Knives out as SACP moves to ‘cut Mantashe to size’ over ANC reform jibe

The SACP top brass is seeing red over ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe’s recent attacks that the left’s push for the reconfiguration of the tripartite alliance is part of an agenda to “liquidate the ANC”.

Mantashe and SACP general-secretary Solly Mapaila have been at each other’s throats in the past fortnight after the latter said the ANC NEC had “agreed” that the alliance must drop all talk about the so-called reconfiguration of the alliance.

SACP leaders this week told Sunday World that Mantashe was speaking for himself and not the ANC. The communists have vowed to push the governing party into a corner to distance itself from its national chair’s views when they meet bilaterally to discuss the thorny issue in due course.

Mantashe ruffled feathers when, after the conclusion of the recent ANC NEC meeting, he accused the SACP of pushing for the reconfiguration of the
alliance for sinister reasons.

This was during a speech at the OR Tambo Memorial Lecture. “The confusion in the alliance today worries me. This is the alliance of Tambo. How do you reconfigure something you don’t know? You cannot,” Mantashe charged.

At the NEC, he said, “we had a chance to discuss it in detail, the whole day without a limit on time. I opened it up for everyone to say what they wanted to say. And all of us agreed that this reconfiguration is actually a concept to liquidate the ANC and create something new.”

According to Mantashe, who is also a central committee (CC) member of the SACP, the proponents of the reconfiguration of the alliance are also motivated by their interest in forcing the governing party to “develop quotas of allocating seats (in government among alliance partners) and it cannot be correct”.

But SACP leaders insist that Mantashe was “merely stating his opinion”, which is not the official position of the ANC.

Said a CC member of the party: “Gwede has always been like that, bulldozing his views through and playing big, as if he is the alpha and omega of the alliance. Unfortunately for him he will only succeed doing those things within the ANC, where there is no decorum. The hypocrisy in his views now is the fact that he chaired the talks about the alliance reconfiguration and never said what he is saying now.

“So, we view his latest offensive as nothing short of political opportunism, which we will defeat at an appropriate platform,” the member added.

Mantashe lit the fire at the lecture when he said the ANC was not willing to be part of the non-ending reconfiguration talk championed by the SACP, while another alliance partner, Cosatu, assumed a fence-sitting position during the scuffle.

Another SACP national leader said the ANC had to distance itself from Mantashe’s views if it did not want to meet the wrath of the party closer to the general elections next year.

“We are in an alliance with the ANC, not Gwede, so we will not make the mistake of elevating his opinion to an ANC position,” said the leader.

“At the bilateral meeting, we will cut him to size since he behaves like his views are superior to those of the collective.”

Mapaila has been trying hard to douse the fire started by Mantashe. At his two public appearances since Mantashe’s remarks, Mapaila insisted on “SACP calls for the reconfiguration of the alliance” and accused Mantashe of “misconstruing the Communist Party’s position”.

Said Mapaila at the funeral of late SACP leader Chris Mathlako last weekend: “The question of the reconfiguration of the alliance today is being made an issue of the SACP. It is an issue of the alliance, not the SACP alone. We are shocked to hear, particularly the national chair of the ANC, whom I have not had the opportunity to speak to on this matter and perhaps there is no need to do so.

“We should reject with the disdain it deserves any inference that we are the junior partner in the relationship of the alliance. Our views cannot be just
dismissed just because a particular leader believes he has  sway  over us.”

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