Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day

The ANC and its allies have patched up their differences and agreed to work together to ensure an ANC victory in the 2019 election.

The allies also agreed to hold an economic summit to discuss the country’s "economic policy direction".

The long-awaited political council between the ANC and its allies, the South African Communist Party (SACP), Cosatu and the South African National Civics Organisation, commonly referred to as the tripartite alliance, took place over the weekend after years of fraught relations, which included calls by the allies for the removal of former president Jacob Zuma as president.

In 2017 the SACP contested elections on its own in Metsimaholo in Free State.

The tripartite alliance agreed to jointly look at ways to cushion the poor from the "economic crisis" as unemployment remained high and the cost of living was being pushed to unacceptable levels courtesy of rising fuel costs and an increase in VAT. The state of the economy is set to feature prominently on all parties’ manifestos in the 2019 general election campaign.

Sharp differences

Politically, sharp differences between the partners remain as they embark on a process to "reconfigure" the alliance.

Business Day understands that this would include a process towards tighter political regulation over alliance processes, regularised instead of ad hoc or informal meetings, and more representative list processes.

But the allies appear to have now ceased hostilities and are back on talking terms, a move bolstered by Zuma’s recall in February and the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president in December.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said an alliance summit in October will discuss the economic policy trajectory of SA. It will tackle contested sections of the National Development Plan, including its economic and labour market chapters. At the summit the allies will also discuss the structure and size of the government, the financial sector, taxation, the health system, fuel prices, the energy mix for the country, mining and land redistribution.

The weekend meeting was described as "comradely, frank and honest" by Magashule. While the allies agreed to continue to back the ANC in the upcoming election, much depended on whether the alliance was "reconfigured" to function more inclusively.

"The alliance agreed that all of us must be on the ground to ensure victory for the ANC in the 2019 election … and in this regard all alliance partners shall participate in the national and provincial list committees," Magashule said.

The SACP was the first in the alliance to warn the ANC about state capture under Zuma and partners agreed to "a programme to tackle corruption and to dismantle the parasitic networks which have captured some sections of the state."

Magashule has been implicated in state capture, but the partners said the principle of innocent until proven guilty should apply and cautioned against a "witch-hunt".

The SACP presented a document to the meeting on the reconfiguring of the alliance. It will be used as the basis for further consultation on the reconfiguration of the alliance, a process culminating in an alliance summit later in 2018.

SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said his party was not deviating from its congress resolutions. He said the SACP would still go it alone if the process to reconfigure the alliance failed. He said for now, the SACP was participating in all ANC elections programmes.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said the labour federation had not changed its position to support the ANC. The federation is also heading to a national elective congress in the coming months, which will guide its approach towards its allies.