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The only notable decision to come out of the SA Communist Party’s conference last week was the open-ended one to contest elections on its own (maybe). The rest was rhetoric.

Don’t be fooled: the threat to break away from its alliance partner, the ANC, is no more than a gambit to sway the race to succeed Jacob Zuma as president.

Blade Nzimande’s organisation knows that if the ANC picked Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its candidate, rather than Cyril Ramaphosa, it would be a disaster — in which case, it may as well go it alone.

It’s remarkable that after 96 years of flying the red flag, the SACP is still hedging its bets. But then, it must know that if it did venture forth on its own steam, it would be consigned to history’s dustbin faster than the ideology it claims to hold dear. Certainly, for an "intellectual vanguard", the party under Nzimande and Jeremy Cronin got it horribly wrong in leading the charge a decade ago for Zuma to replace Thabo Mbeki.

Far from laying the groundwork for workers to "control the means of production", leading to the attainment of Marx’s dictum "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs", Zuma has emerged as a petit bourgeois state plunderer. The SACP should have the courage of its convictions rather than seek to play kingmaker out of all proportion to its strength in the political marketplace.

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