A new era: SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says the party would not be able to contest elections without the support of workers. Speaking at the NUM’s 16th national congress, he said workers and the party had a special relationship, and neither could exist without the other. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
A new era: SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says the party would not be able to contest elections without the support of workers. Speaking at the NUM’s 16th national congress, he said workers and the party had a special relationship, and neither could exist without the other. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

It would be useless for the South African Communist Party (SACP) to contest elections without the support of Cosatu and its unions, said the party’s general secretary, Blade Nzimande. Pleading with National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members to back the party if it breaks away from the ANC-led alliance, he said it would be suicidal if the party broke away without workers’ support.

Nzimande was speaking at the NUM’s 16th national congress, where delegates are expected to debate whether to support the SACP’s resolution to contest elections on its own or under a reconfigured alliance.

He said the NUM could not exist without the party and neither could the party without workers. "We are not going to throw the SACP as a vanguard alone into an electoral contest if the working class does not support us on this," he said.

The SACP resolved at its congress in July 2017 that it would explore whether to contest elections on its own or within a reconfigured alliance.

The party, along with labour federation Cosatu, is part of the ANC-led tripartite alliance.

The alliance has, however, proved ineffective for more than a decade, with the SACP and Cosatu complaining of being sidelined by the governing party, with resolutions made by the grouping ignored. The alliance has failed to convene proposed meetings, with divisions deepening under former president Jacob Zuma’s leadership as Cosatu and the SACP called for his removal from office.

Nzimande also called on workers to interrogate the notion of a "new dawn", as championed by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration.

The term has become a catchphrase to refer to purported positive changes in SA’s governance and politics.

Nzimande said workers had to question how this change would benefit them as well as the poor.

"What is the class content of the new dawn? It must primarily benefit the workers and the poor in order to be effective. Not for other class forces. We must claim it," he said.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini supported the sentiments in his address to the congress, saying optimism about the new dawn was devoid of radical content.

"It’s us who will put in the radical content of the new dawn. We are at the coal-face production point, where the iron is the hottest," said Dlamini.

"That’s where it is most painful to be a worker. We are the ones to better explain how we need to propel this second radical phase of our democratic revolution," he said.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za

Please sign in or register to comment.