Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday urged the SA Communist Party (SACP) to continue being critical of the governing party, a call that could help mend fractured relations in the tripartite alliance.

Relations between the ANC and its allies, the SACP and Cosatu, took a big knock during the last five years of former president Jacob Zuma’s rule. The allies constantly accused Zuma and the ruling party for not consulting them on key decisions and appointments.

The soured relations between the SACP and Zuma came to a head when the former president fired the SACP’s general secretary Blade Nzimande from his cabinet. 

Cosatu and the SACP became the key backers of Ramaphosa’s successful bid to lead the party in 2017. Since then, there has been consistent efforts from both sides to mend relations.

Although it is part of the governing alliance, the SACP has remained a fierce critic of ANC’s capitalist ideology and economic policies.

It is advocating for socialism as means to address the unemployment rate of 29%, deepening inequality and poverty in SA. It has also been very vocal on the erosion of the credibility of key state institutions by state capture.

Addressing party members at the 60th anniversary of SACP publication African Communist at Liliesleaf Farm, Ramaphosa said the publication facilitated important debates about the future of SA.

“Such critical debates are no longer taking place,” he said.

“Thought leadership is absolutely needed right now. The African Communist [AC] made us think out of the box and look forward to new ideas. The SACP must continue giving that leadership ... We know the party for playing a vanguard role [and] putting forward ideas that will be able to take our nation forward,” he said.

“If ever there was a time when those ideas were needed, it is now. The AC has always been a reservoir for great ideas that have taken our struggle forward. The role played by the AC and SACP must continue. I’m looking forward to that role being played."

The president said the publication played an important role in sharpening political activists’ understanding of non-racialism and had always been a platform for sharing and advancing morally compelling critical ideas.

“More importantly, in the second phase of our transition to national democratic society, the African Communist has also served as a platform for progressive voices critical of ANC and its governance,” said Ramaphosa.

“To this extent we view the African Communist as part of our revolutionary conscience [as it talks to issues pertaining to the] slow pace of economic transformation, state capture, dangers of corruption, the erosion of moral credibility, weakening of state organs, and the decline in electoral support.”

The ANC shed 4.65 percentage points from the 2014 national election to achieve 57.50% during the May 8 vote.

“These have been warnings but they also need to be turned into call for action ... The African Communist needs to continue calling us to action, to address all these challenges that our revolution faces. All the efforts we have taken towards renewal of our movement and the state are no small measure.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za