The South African Communist Party (SACP) hit Johannesburg's streets on Sunday to rally against fascism in the form of Julius Malema and his overalled fighters. It reeked of desperation. By GREG NICOLSON.
The SACP gathered on Sunday a party under threat. The conversations, the placards, and the language in the speeches all suggested that the communists were under pressure, as President Jacob Zuma continues to face criticism over Nkandla and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) use Parliament and the legislatures to publicly embarrass the ANC.
Almost 500 members from Gauteng met on Sunday morning at Johannesburg’s Constitutional Hill, summoned to demonstrate against fascism. Essentially, the SACP is outraged at the attention the EFF has garnered since arriving in Parliament and minting phrases like “pay back the money” and “blood on his hands”. The communist press release explained its counter attack: “Whilst [the] SACP condemns the fact that these fascists and violence-prone fanatics are hell-bent on undermining the ‘decorum’ of Parliament, the launch of a programme and front against fascism is not about the ‘decorum’ of Parliament. It is essentially about pushing back the frontiers of Boko Haram and Nazi-inspired counter-revolution.”
As marches go, the number of people who turned out to fight those frontiers were rather small, and in comparison to EFF events it was an older crowd. The group marched over Constitutional Hill and into the CBD to the Library Gardens, near where an EFF protest in July turned into a battle with police. The EFF was protesting against its eight MPLs being forcefully removed by police because they were wearing the party overalls.
The SACP continued the alliance attack on Julius Malema and the EFF by warning that they are fascists using populist rhetoric to mislead the people. “Phantsi with Hitler! Phantsi with fascism!” yelled SACP provincial chairman and Gauteng MEC of Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance Jacob Mamabolo. “We defeated Apartheid fascism in South Africa led by the white minority government. We must not allow the rise of fascism in our democracy led by black or white fascists.” Mamabolo went on to describe the rise of the Nazi Party, suggesting comparisons with the EFF.
“It will be the end of our democracy once we allow people in Parliament to use violence. We must know these people will never respect the laws of democracy,” Mamabolo continued. “We can’t allow fascists to burn our democracy.” The SACP provincial chairman said the party was calling on the Speaker to investigate how security was breached, referring to when EFF members stormed the Legislature, a national key point.
“SACP believes that failure to take decisive action and hold those responsible criminally liable may be perceived as ratification of, and tantamount to, collusion, and that such failure will be equal to betrayal of our National Democratic Revolution and everything our constitutional democracy stands for,” reads a party statement.
Photo: Gauteng SACP members marching in Johannesburg during the party’s anti-fascist march. (Greg Nicolson)
The rally received messages of support from Cosatu, the ANC, and other alliance structures. Thembinkosi Pulu from the Young Communist League (YCL) said, “Malema will never be a demigod of this country. Malema will never lead this country.” He said if National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and other MPs could not handle the EFF “they can send us in Parliament for one day and we’ll sort them out”. He continued, “You must address anarchy with anarchy.” Pulu then turned to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and said the organisation supports the comments from Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association leader Kebby Maphatsoe who claimed she is handled by the CIA. The YCL isn’t scared to ask who her handlers are because the organisation is not in Parliament, said Pulu (however, YCL leader Buti Manamela is deputy minister in the presidency).
“Who is her handler?” yelled a crowd member.
Congress of South African Students (Cosas) member Thabo Mkoana continued the attack, claiming the organisation isn’t scared of Malema. “President Jacob Zuma is the president of the Republic and will lead until Jesus comes,” he said. “He’s a sell-out, Malema. He’s a sell-out, an anarchist. He’s a cruel parent… Even though he can sing his song ‘pay back the money’ Jacob Zuma is president.”
The SACP has been criticised for blindly defending Zuma and the ANC. Recenlty, National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa) president Andrew Chirwa said, “Every time there is an attempt to throw sand in the eyes of the public, there you find a leading member of the SACP”. Explaining the attacks, he continued, “What was meant to be the political party of the working class has become embedded in the state; its leaders have become megaphones of the ANC’s neoliberal policies. The SACP has had to formulate a theory for its rotten political practices. In a political programme adopted at its national congress in July 2012, it identified two ‘opponents’ that had to be defeated: first, the ‘new tendency’, which it described as ‘a populist, bourgeois nationalist ideological tendency with deeply worrying demagogic, proto-fascist features’, and, second, what the party calls ‘liberal constitutionalism’. The ‘new tendency’ referred to the ANC Youth League rump led by Julius Malema. ‘Liberal constitutionalism’ included those who insist on good governance, the rule of law and action against corruption.”
In sum, said the president of the country’s largest union said, “Watch out before you raise issues to do with corruption or the rule of law – you could be placing yourself in the ‘liberal constitutionalist’ camp and thus in the firing line of the SACP’s bloodthirsty commissars.”
SACP Mpumalanga Secretary Bonakele Majuba responded to the allegations last week. The response was convoluted, but essentially he claimed Chirwa and others were riding the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla to attack Zuma after the ANC were re-elected with despite Zuma being at the helm.
On Sunday, the SACP continued their assault in defence of the president. They asked their members to return to the townships and informal settlements and tell the people about the EFF’s misleading, Hitler-like, ways. But their arguments and willing to compare Malema, the former ANC darling, to one of the most vile leaders in human history because the party have big mouths in Parliament, exposes the SACP’s desperation.
If anyone cared much about the communists, it could even be scary. DM
- Blade to Dalai Lama: The heavenly authority of the SACP says ‘Don’t Come’ in Daily Maverick
- Rebels with a cause: Why Mantashe is seeing red over the EFF in Daily Maverick.
Main photo: Thabo Mkoana, a Cosas member, sings with the SACP crowd at Johannesburg’s Library Gardens on Sunday. (Greg Nicolson)