It came as no surprise that the axe finally fell on Blade Nzimande. He has made factionalism the culture of the SACP and infected both the ANC and Cosatu with the same, destroying the lives, livelihoods and families of many loyal SACP, Cosatu and ANC members. It was inevitable that he would fall by the same means.
Reacting to the recall of former President Thabo Mbeki in October 2008 (a week after the recall), Blade Nzimande had this to say: “The skies have not fallen. These things happen in a democracy…”
As fate would have it, exactly nine years after his comment, today in October 2017 Cde Blade should know that these things happen in a democracy. (Source unkown.)?
Of course, the fact that it has come to this does not bode well for the ANC-led Alliance. This action by Jacob Zuma demonstrates the moribund state of the SACP. It has been reduced to being nothing more than a toothless NGO. While it once served as the brain in the national democratic revolution, Nzimande and his handlangers have reduced it to being nothing more than a conveyor belt for their political and financial ambitions. They did this in return for running a protection racket for Jacob Zuma.
True to form, Zuma has ditched his assets (for that is what they are to him as his intelligence style of operating shows) one by one – Vavi, Malema, Mantashe and now Nzimande. As Julius Malema once put it, a political condom is only useful when it’s needed. When used, it gets discarded along with the trash. Sadly, when the SACP is needed most of all, it has been found to be wanting in every respect. It is now powerless to act against Jacob Zuma.
At the last Congress of the SACP, despite all the evidence that he had outlived his usefulness and reached his sell-by date, Blade Nzimande again stood for re-election as the General Secretary of the SACP. His erstwhile successor, Solly Mapaile, was either too timid or too loyal to take him on. The upshot of this is that an unlikeable man sits at the head of a once proud party, not that being a nice person is a prerequisite for leading a party, but it does help.
It is fitting however that he should preside over the SACP at this point, for it is his factionalism, pettiness, petulance and limited intellect that have made the party what it is today. Once the strategic centre of the revolution, the home of intellectuals, brave activists and worker leaders, the party today is a lumpen mass organisation. Claiming 250,000 members, it is doubtful that 25,000 of these have ever read Marx, Lenin, Engels and the like, that 2,500 of these can actually operate as communists giving leadership to the working class and the mass movement, or that 250 of them are of the calibre of Joe Slovo, Chris Hani, Dora Tamana, Ray Alexander, Moses Kotane and other great communists who led our movement. No leader of the ANC would have dared to or even have wanted to axe the previous General Secretaries of the SACP.
As a victim of Nzimande’s relentless efforts to destroy me, by spreading lies, making fake reports, slandering, libelling, gossiping and childishly blocking any efforts to deploy me or utilise me in the movement, I can attest to the fact that Nzimande is a malevolent borderline personality.
Many others have had it as bad or even worse. It was Nzimande who led the charge to get Jacob Zuma elected, stating on one occasion that if I was not “with him” on this mission, I was the enemy. This type of language when I served as the National Treasurer of the party. It was over this political difference that many members of the SACP were forced out of or left the party.
Nzimande insisted that Jacob Zuma was a left, progressive, working-class leader and that his election would lead to a dramatic leftward shift in the ANC. At Polokwane Nzimande successfully purged anyone left in the ANC leadership that he described as being part of the “1996 class project”, a ridiculous unMarxist category he created to label all of those he had a grievance against. He had already flushed many of the intellectuals and vibrant young leaders in particular out of the SACP by then. His next target was Thabo Mbeki, whom he hated for having not appointed him as a Cabinet minister before. The move to oust Mbeki as President was driven by Nzimande.
These things have to be said, not because of schadenfreude, although it is nice to see a bully get his due, but because as Raymond Suttner put it in his Op-Ed on 10 October 2017 in Daily Maverick, “Those who colluded in the many crimes of this period need to ‘come clean’ about their own responsibility and not hide under the claim that they did not know what was entailed or did not – actually – endorse Jacob Zuma or know that he had a propensity towards corruption. The public needs the truth, not only from those who ought to face criminal charges but those who have held public office and been complicit in what has been inflicted on the South African public.”
The SACP is now supporting Cyril Ramaphosa for president. I happen to agree that he is the best choice for president of the ANC and the country at this point in our history. But as with his support for Jacob Zuma, Nzimande’s support for Ramaphosa is not about what is best for the country. It’s about what is best for him. Like a parasite, he will cling on to CR17 for all he is worth, in the hope that he can once again emerge as a minister.
Instead of attending to the needs of students, to the interests of the working class and to building a strong, vibrant, radical party that can lead our country out of the post-apartheid capitalist hell that it is in, the SACP is now akin to the trade union movement in former communist countries, where the members participate in structures that do absolutely nothing for them as workers. In many cases, these structures are there to discipline the working class on behalf of state capitalism. So too with the party that was once a powerful force in our country and arguably the only potential force for socialism.
The Cabinet reshuffle that Zuma has effected is petty. It’s about him hitting back at Nzimande for his stance on his leadership. But it is also a distraction so that he can get on with what he wants to do in energy, which is see through the energy deals with the Russians, including the nuclear deal. As we lurch towards the ANC elective conference, we are once again engaged in a battle that is not about electing the best leaders, promoting a unifying vision or mobilising the working class behind a radical, progressive programme. Despite CR17’s best efforts at raising the level of the debate, it is the association of elements such as Nzimande with the campaign that threaten to derail it.
The irony of the situation as of now is that Zuma has fired the SACP version of himself. For the working class, the poor, the vulnerable, it makes not one iota of difference whether Nzimande is a minister or not, since he is ineffectual and focused on his own personal interests anyway. Karma it is for Nzimande.
Let’s hope that it is not a karma that will be visited upon the masses of our people who loyally followed Nzimande and others to save Jacob Zuma by sacrificing the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu. DM
Dr Phillip Dexter is a member of the ANC. He writes in his personal capacity.
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