The Star, Johannesburg, October 17, 2006 Edition 1

SACP backs Blade but warns him to focus on building unity

Moshoeshoe Monare

SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande was told by his colleagues yesterday to stop sowing division and to start showing leadership - the same criticism he had aimed at President Thabo Mbeki recently.

This emerged during an extended SACP politburo meeting in Johannesburg yesterday, described by a provincial secretary, who did not wish to be named, as "tense but frank".

In what sounded like a dressing-down, Nzimande was told to act as a symbol of unity and not represent views of a faction supporting ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma. One of the SACP leaders apparently warned against the "Zumafication of the SACP".

The Star has learnt that Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils came down hard on Nzimande, saying he must own up to the decisions of the party's "collective", especially regarding the Zuma issue.

Nzimande was also told to "refrain from muddying the office of the president" after he responded harshly to Mbeki's attack by saying the president must show leadership.

Recently, Mbeki called Nzimande “extraordinarily arrogant”. Prior to that, the SACP - in its discussion documents - had consistently said Mbeki's presidency was too dominant and that it centralised power.

However, an SACP official said that, contrary to individuals' views, the meeting also agreed that Mbeki could not use the status of his office to attack Nzimande without "the SACP responding".

"Your sources must represent what was agreed, and not just their (individual) views," the official said.

In a statement yesterday, the SACP defended Nzimande: "Nothing that our general secretary (said) … is by any stretch of the imagination at variance with the programme, policies, constitution and perspectives of the SACP.

"To this end, the SACP politburo regards as very unfortunate and disturbing the personalised attacks directed at its general secretary."

Nzimande had the support of six provinces in the meeting, but not Gauteng, Limpopo and North West. But, according to a second provincial secretary, who also did not wish to be named, he was not able to use his majority in the meeting.

Party chairperson and Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula - who convened the urgent meeting following the public spat between Nzimande and Mbeki - was commended for "his good intervention".

He had halted provinces from issuing statements supporting Nzimande.

The meeting welcomed the decision to register the SACP as a political party with the Independent Electoral Commission, ostensibly for the purpose of benefiting from tax breaks.


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Paragraphs in bold abovewere included in the Internet version but no in the hard-copy edition