BUSINESS DAY TV: ‘The party will not fall into the trap of false unity’
SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila on the party’s plan of action after the Cabinet reshuffle and why SACP Cabinet ministers have not quit in solidarity
Solly Mapaila is second deputy general secretary at the South African Communist Party (SACP).
BUSINESS DAY TV: The South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) central committee met today to discuss its call for President Jacob Zuma to resign. Joining us for some detail on what came out of the meeting is Solly Mapaila, he is the second deputy general secretary at the SACP.
Solly ... so ahead of today’s meeting the SACP actually put out a statement at the weekend saying that the country was in deep crisis and that President Jacob Zuma’s actions were reckless. And I suppose we’ve seen the outcome of that today with that very quick credit rating downgrade by Standard & Poor’s. Do you stand by Saturday’s comments that you want the president to resign?
SOLLY MAPAILA: Yes the PB (press briefing) which was extended decided to turn itself into a special central committee because there was overwhelming attendance of members of the central committee and they unanimously took a decision endorsing the PB decision that indeed President Zuma must resign because of his irrational decisions, recklessness in the manner in which he has taken decisions that has plunged our economy into a deeper crisis and now with the downgrade.
And, of course, the real issue is that the downgrade, the impact of it is going to affect the workers, the ordinary people and he is not going to be directly affected by that. he will still continue to live a lavish lifestyle and so are his business associates that have corrupted the way he conducts himself, through the Guptas, that are looting state resources.
BDTV: Of course, the call is getting louder and louder for change at the top. Speaking to an international analyst earlier today, though, he is rating a 20% chance that a move to unseat President Jacob Zuma would be successful. Do you think there’s a better chance than that and what clout does the SACP have within the alliance?
SM: We can’t make this call and not fulfil it. There’s no doubt about it, we understand what we are up against. We are up against a man who is supported by a network of highly influential people, who have enriched themselves from the national purse and they will use every single resource available to make sure that he stays in power because it benefits them. But equally we have a commitment to protect the poor.
The mission of our struggle which is about creating a better life for all South Africans and we feel that if there’s any possibility, we will do anything possible in our power to make sure that he leaves office, he resigns and if not the ANC must recall him and if not the ANC not recalling, therefore the people of SA must find a mechanism to recall him. The people are in charge. In fact the key principle of the Freedom Charter is that "the people shall govern" and that no government, unless it’s based on the will of authority, can claim legitimacy over the people.
BDTV: If the ANC doesn’t recall him, is the SACP willing to leave the alliance?
SM: It’s not about leaving the alliance, that is why part of the issues we raised was that we’re not asking our comrades to leave government, even Cabinet, because it’s not his Cabinet. We participate in the elections through the ANC. In our participation, we campaign for the ANC, we vote for the ANC, we are part and parcel of the alliance and therefore it’s not about ...
BDTV: Will you continue to vote for the ANC?
SM: Yes, we will continue to vote for them ...
BDTV: ... even with Zuma?
SM: Of course, yes, but we have to remove him, that’s why if there is a problem, he must be removed because he contaminates the struggle credentials of the ANC and now the ANC is associated with wrong things which are not part of its policy. The ANC is a movement of self-serving individuals, the majority of whom died for the liberation of South Africans and therefore we can’t allow that kind of sacrifice to go in vain just because we can’t contain one single individual. That is why the ANC has to come up and make sure that it does the right thing and gets him to resign from the position of being president of the republic.
BDTV: Of course, where he stands as a liability where many have called this a decisive moment for the country, how much of a divisive moment is it for the ANC?
SM: It is the task of leadership to appreciate the damage that he is causing to our country that false unity to protect him while we lose the authority to lead and transform South African society, because we possess at the moment at least, the most thoroughly going transformative programme that no other political party possesses. And if we denounce that just because we want to protect him it will be hugely unfair to the people of SA who have sacrificed so much and have given confidence to the movement.
So we will not fall into the trap of false unity. Unity is important in the movement but unity is based on principles, on moral discipline, on accountability and ethical leadership of the people that we deploy into specific positions, including the position of being president of the republic. And in any case the position of the president must embody the collective value of South African people and it is now quite evident that Comrade Zuma has deviated from that posture.
BDTV: Talking about values, we had all the opposition parties meeting today to work together potentially to get rid of Zuma, to get Zuma out of office. Could you have worked with the DA on this and with other parties that you don’t perhaps have the same ideological views as, would you be able to work with them to that end result?
SM: Our first thing is that the ANC must do the correct thing. They don’t have to have the opposition parties determining that what President Zuma is doing that is incorrect. The ANC must accept leadership of society and do the correct thing by making sure that they actually initiate a process to remove him. They are the only ones that have the power to remove him at the moment, because we know that the DA and even the EFF have put several motions of no confidence and all those have failed because the ANC refused to take action.
“We are up against a man who is supported by a network of highly influential people, who have enriched themselves from the national purse and they will use every single resource available to make sure that he stays in power... ”
But this time, we are saying to the ANC it has been proven to us openly now that the Guptas have captured the authority and the national sovereignty of SA, which we had entrusted in him through constitutional means, as a privilege from us. But he has taken that and abused that special privilege and therefore the ANC in Parliament can’t keep quiet when this matter comes up. The national executive committee of the ANC itself must rise up to the occasion or otherwise when the people ultimately remove him the ANC will not be a party to have fought against corruption and a person who took away the national sovereignty of the republic.
BDTV: Having said all of this, is there a clear strategy, a plan in place to actually get things in motion because all of this does not amount to bluster, that risks fizzing out?
SM: We as ... part of the main reason today of our special central committee was to talk to our provinces because the implementation of our programmes take place in provinces and we have outlined a comprehensive mobilisation programme to make sure that this objective is realised, and that was fully endorsed and reached by the meeting taking the cue from the politburo and we are quite confident that that programme will be hugely supported by all progressive and social forces in our republic to make sure that the dream of our movement, of our forefathers who created this great movement, of building a united democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and prosperous SA is realised.
BDTV: If this does get down to the motion of no confidence in Parliament, will the SACP members of Parliament stand up and be counted?
SM: We have said initially, and I want to repeat it, that the SACP doesn’t necessarily have members of Parliament per se, we have ANC members of Parliament because we participate ...
BDTV: Will the ANC, SACP members of Parliament stand up and be counted?
SM: Yes, of course, they will definitely stand up to be counted, in fact, the central committee has mandated them to raise the issue as ANC members in their own right, in the ANC caucus to raise this question about his removal.