THE African National Congress has described the decision by the South African Communist Party (SACP) to contest by-elections in Metsimaholo in the Free State as regrettable.
Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said the party’s NEC which set in Irene last week discussed the move.
“The NEC noted the South African Communist Party’s intention to contest the by-elections in the Metsimaholo Municipality, Free State province later on this month. The NEC views this decision as regrettable, particularly in a marginal municipality such as Metsimaholo,” he said.
The SACP has been toying with the idea of contesting the 2019 general elections as a standalone entity and the by-elections were seen as a litmus test on how the party would do. Despite the outcry by the ANC, the organisation’s Solly Mapaila at the time of the decision said by contesting, they were not breaking away from the alliance but just wanted to ensure the alliance retains the municipality.
“We have said our comrades must register in the name of the SACP to contest that election. In doing so, we are not breaking away from the alliance. We are saying to the leadership of our movement if we do not contest there, we will lose that municipality as a whole,” he said.
Mapaila added that the decision was to send a message to the entire alliance that the organisation would not sit back while wrong things happen. The African National Congress lost the municipality after the 2016 municipal elections. It was governed by a coalition consisting of the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, Freedom Front Plus and the Metsimaholo Community Association, but relations broke down. It was dissolved in July when relations soured.
“This action is a clear signal that if there is a rot and we do nothing about it, things will remain the same,” he said.
Spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the decision came after a politburo meeting held earlier in October. He said they received a report from the Free State branch, making a special request for approval to contest elections in Metsimaholo.
“The purpose of the request was to give practical expression to a standing SACP resolution not to support candidates from irregular processes or impose candidates, as their candidature undermines the letter and spirit of our alliance and its ANC-led electoral process. The politburo considered the request in the context of the 14th Party Congress’ mandate to its central committee to develop a roadmap for the SACP to actively contest elections, either within the umbrella of a reconfigured alliance or on its own – or through broad popular fronts if the alliance is not reconfigured,” said Mashilo.
Mantashe further added that alliance partners would have to meet urgently to iron out differences to ensure such things don’t happen going forward. The alliance members have not been seeing eye to eye since the revelations of state capture and calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down. The recent sacking of SACP leader Blade Nzimande further strained relations.
“In line with the decision of the Alliance Political Council held last month, the NEC has called for the follow-up meeting to be held without delay. The ANC must further interrogate and engage the resolution of the SACP on State Power and its implications for the Alliance. The ANC remains committed to engaging the Party on this matter and ensuring that the Alliance, united and strong, continues to provide the leadership society requires from the Alliance,” said Mantashe.