State of ANC Govt in South Africa

Nitya Chakraborty

The South Africa’s ruling African National Congress(ANC) Government led by President Jacob Zuma is facing a major political crisis as the powerful South African Communist Party(SACP), after being fed up with rampant corruption of its senior leaders including the President, has decided to dissociate from the ANC and forge new  popular front of progressive forces to fight the general elections in 2019.The present  government is fighting a fierce battle  against the opposition groups on the issue of the corruption  against the President Zuma and its reflection was evident in the recent elections to the states in which the ruling combination fared miserably.
The SACP which has been a part of the alliance including ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions(COSATU) since 1994   when the first government was formed under the Presidentship of Nelson Mandela after the democratic elections in  South Africa, has been consistently warning the ANC leadership that it is deviating from the accepted programmes of the National Democratic Revolution(NDR) on the basis of which the Communist Party was a part of the alliance and the government, but the dominant sections of the ANC leadership did not change and got themselves enmeshed in  series of corruption. This had its impact on the ANC supporters also and the Party lost many of its grassroots support during the tenure of the present president Jacob Zuma.
The SACP which played a glorious role in the anti-Apartheid movement along with Nelson Mandela and other prominent ANC leaders, faced strong protests from its traditional bases due to many of the anti trade union positions of the ANC government and the deviation of the government policies from the socialist orientation which was accepted as a part of the NDR programme. There was big pressure from the ranks for dissociating from the ANC before the next elections. At the recent 14th national congress of the South African Communist Party held on July 11 to 15 at Johannesburg, the issue was discussed by the 2500 delegates representing 2.84 lakh party members and it was decided that the SACP will be fighting the next general elections on its own in the name of the Party but it would form a popular front of progressive forces in the country so that there is no breach in the unity of the progressive forces,
The SACP and the top leaders of ANC have always been cooperating and the former President Nelson Mandela always addressed the party congress of the Communist Party. The present president Jacon Zuma also earlier addressed the party congress but it was for the first time that at the 14th party congress, the SACP did not invite the president Zuma despite his willingness and even a good section of the party members expressed the view that President Zuma should step down on the issue of corruption. This was the first time since Zuma came to power in 2009 that he did not speak at the Communist Party congress.
The 30 page document discussed at the party congress by the delegates focused on the SACP’s concerns over the state capture of the Zuma’s government by the billionaire Gupta family belonging to India. SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said “We never fought the struggle to liberate the country to hand over the economy to billionaires. The CP general secretary warned that the ANC was threatened with serious decline due to its factionalism, corporate capture and rampant corrupt practices. He said that the plummeting support of the ruling ANC was due to the almost daily revelations of scandals involving highly placed ANC politicians in the media. The delegates said in one voice that the communists have to dissociate themselves from these corrupt people and fight for the ideals on the basis of which the NDR programme was formulated.
The South African communists have been persuading the ANC leadership for the last so many years to change their policies and performance to suit the interests of the common people. Though the Zuma government agreed some years ago to pursue a second phase of the NDR based on greater attention to transforming the economy away from the capitalist monopoly control, no follow up was domne and to the frustration of the SACP leaders, the ANC leaders opted for corrupt practices in a big way.
However, the issue of going alone in the next elections was not endorsed. The party congress adopted the approach of building a broad popular front to carry forward the NDR programme in an advanced form in association with COSATU and also the progressive elements of the ANC. Significantly, the SACP said in its adopted document that the party remains committed to strengthening and consolidating the ANC alliance but this would require a significant reconfiguration. Now the testion is whether the ANC has still the capacity of this process of renewal. That way the option has been kept open for a section of the ANC to be a part of the popular front.
The SACP announced that it would set out a road map to help develop this popular front and this will involve active engagement with its alliance partners and a wide range of workers and progressive formations. The Party will take concrete actions after consulting the participants of the broad front. Before the 2019 general elections, ANC has its 54th national conference in December this year at which it will select a new leader. Much depends on the new leader about how he wants to lead the ANC into the next general elections. SACP will be waiting for the outcome of the ANC session before finalizing its blueprint of the action programme for the 2019 polls. (IPA)

Sunday, 23 July, 2017