Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS
Blade Nzimande. Picture: GCIS

The ANC is in distress, divided and crippled by infighting amid a “huge attempt” to displace President Cyril Ramaphosa, SA Communist Party (SACP) general secretary Blade Nzimande said on Sunday.

The SACP is a member of the tripartite alliance together with the ANC and union federation Cosatu. Its support is crucial for Ramaphosa as he seeks to clean out the widespread corruption and rot that has crept into the government and the ruling party, mostly in the past 10 years.

Speaking during the SACP’s 98th anniversary celebrations in Ermelo in Mpumalanga, Nzimande said there are those within and outside the alliance pushing for the removal of Ramaphosa and public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan because of their drive to clean up parastatals and root out corruption in government.

“The ANC is under distress, divided and fighting among itself.  There is a huge attempt to displace Cyril Ramaphosa because he is pursuing all the wrong things that have actually been done, and as communists we cannot celebrate an ANC that is in distress,” said Nzimande, who serves in Ramaphosa's cabinet as minister of higher education, science & technology.  

“If the ANC is in distress, it means our revolution is in danger. Let’s go out and swell the ranks of the ANC to ensure that we save our organisation. If it means saving the ANC from itself, let’s go and do that … not because we are superior but because we care about the ANC.”

In his address,  Nzimande suggested that the EFF was going after Gordhan because he had looked into party leader Julius Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust, “which had not been paying tax”.

Nzimande also said Gordhan had been targeted because he had gone after illicit cigarette smugglers, some of whom support the EFF financially. “Gordhan managed to nail those people selling illicit cigarettes and not paying their taxes … When we say we are defending comrade Pravin, we are not defending him as an individual, we are defending a principle,” said Nzimande.

Ramaphosa and Gordhan have been under growing pressure following the release of controversial reports by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

In June, ANC chair Gwede Mantashe accused Mkhwebane of fighting petty ANC factional battles. He was reacting to Mkhwebane’s investigation into Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign donation from corruption-accused facilities management firm Bosasa.

The public protector released her report on the matter in July, finding that the president deliberately misled parliament on the donation to his campaign. She ordered that the national director of public prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, investigate “prima facie evidence” of money laundering linked to Ramaphosa’s campaign.

Ramaphosa is seeking an urgent legal review of Mkhwebane’s report.

Meanwhile, the EFF has been calling for Gordhan to be removed from his position following another controversial report by Mkhwebane that found the minister violated the constitution by establishing the SA Revenue Service (Sars) “rogue unit”. Mkhwebane directed Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gordhan within 30 days.

In July, a court interdicted Mkhwebane from enforcing the action recommended in her report on the unit. The court found that the public protector’s office would not suffer any harm if the interdict was granted, but that Gordhan would.

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