Another round of fisticuffs has ensued in the alliance: SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande lashed the ANC Youth League for being opportunist marchers, the League retorted that he won’t stop them and Cosatu seemed a little bit confused about it all (the ANC proper is strategically and quietly sitting on the fence). CARIEN DU PLESSIS reports.
Don’t touch the ANC Youth League on its economic freedom mass action, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande has discovered.
The communist leader had harsh words for the young guns over the weekend, telling SACP members at a congress near Richard’s Bay that they should not join any march “whose intention is malicious and to undermine the authority of the ANC and the government” (sic). This was in reference to the League’s planned marches next week, 27 and 28 October, to the Chamber of Mines, the JSE and the Union Buildings – where Blade’s best buddy and one of his few remaining friends, President Jacob Zuma, resides.
Nzimande also warned that young people should not be misled by politicians. “Do not allow yourselves to be used by people with agendas that are not in your interest,” he said.
Of course Red October is traditionally the SACP’s month, but has now neatly been hijacked by the League, so Nzimande was entitled to cry if he wanted to.
But the Youth League wasn’t going to let the attack pass without grabbing some more free publicity from it, and, from a dizzy height, they shot back on Monday, predictably condemning Nzimande (whose title, for the purposes of this press release was demoted from “Dr” to “Mr”).
“It is sad that time and again, Mr Nzimande raises false alarms, and throw(s) labels such as ‘demagogues’, ‘tenderpreneurs’, ‘new-tendency’ and all sorts of names and no one calls him to order for such conduct. Mr Nzimande has replaced politics with labels and blind loyalty to capital in the name of defending the ANC,” the League said.
Sore lately about the disciplinary action against its top five officials, the League has tried to portray itself as a moral guardian of sorts, helpfully pointing out inconsistencies in discipline where it can.
The League said it has organised marches before – nay, in fact, they’re obliged to do so. “It is only those who wish for the liquidation of the ANC Youth League, who would wish the mass action should not go ahead,” the kids sulked.
But it gets worse. “Opposing the ANC Youth League mass action for economic freedom is tantamount to defending the interests of white monopoly capital, most represented in the Chamber of Mines and the JSE. It is indeed shocking for a general secretary of a COMMUNIST (it’s the youngsters’ caps) party to defend the interests of white monopoly capital.”
Of course the League makes no mention of the fact that Cosatu’s members own much of the JSE through their investment in provident funds. Perhaps this is because the labour federation – well, some parts of this greatly confused body – has expressed its broad support for the idea of next week’s march, although the workers might or might not actually turn up. Not officially, anyway.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi last week told a press conference that workers supported the League’s planned march, but he was slightly vague on whether this meant that warm, marching workers’ bodies would be at the jamboree.
Of course Cosatu is not a homogenous body, and some insiders say it’s possible that the National Union of Mineworkers (which is not particularly enthusiastic about the League’s nationalisation campaign) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union – two of the biggest unions in Gauteng and surrounds – have threatened to boycott any call by Cosatu to support the League. This could be embarrassing, which is why the labour federation would prefer a broader, laissez faire approach.
As for the ANC, its spokesman Keith Khoza on Monday wisely said the party had no official position on the march, as there had been no discussions among its leaders about it – or at least, not that he was aware of.
The Young Communist League has already declared that it supported the League’s aims, but true to their intellectual nature, they’d all be sitting in their seminar talking about poverty next week rather than marching.
Meanwhile ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s mobilisation campaign (and economic freedom lecture series, as it is known for purposes of sounding clever) for the march is set to continue on Tuesday at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape, where the League is a tad divided about its support for Malema.
His lecture at the Witwatersrand University last week (the League is also not 100% Malema in Gauteng) was a resounding success, as he managed to defy a halfhearted attempt by university authorities to stop him – he filled two lecture halls (capacity around 300 to 400 seats each) late on a Friday afternoon. DM
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