If 'gangster premier league' wins, ANC could face split – Cronin

Former SACP deputy general secretary says there is uncertainty over the future of the ruling party

If 'gangster premier league' wins, ANC could face split - Cronin

13 July 2017

Johannesburg - Former SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin has warned of a possible split in the ANC if the "gangster premier league" faction is victorious at the December elective conference.

Cronin was speaking at the party's 14th national congress in Boksburg, where he presented the pros and cons of the SACP going into it alone and contesting elections for the first time in 2019.

He said there was uncertainty over the future of the ANC, deeply divided ahead of its elective conference.

"What happens [I risk being factional] if the premier league slate wins through hook or crook? Is there a massive split in ANC?

"It would be very hard for the majority of us to remain in ANC positions under gangster leadership, and the same will be felt by many within the ANC," Cronin said.

Insiders have said the SACP leadership would rather wait until after the elective conference, before deciding on contesting elections.

They believe the party should not "box" itself into a decision, in case presidential hopeful Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa wins.

Some have proposed a special congress to make a decision in 2018.

Push to go it alone

However, there is a strong push from within the party to part ways with the ANC. The Young Communist League and the North West province have come out in support of the party going in it alone.

Delegates at the back of the hall have repeatedly sung " siyayi funa iState power [We want state power]" throughout the conference, even after Ramaphosa warned them against a "statement with a nice ring to it".

Ramaphosa is pitted against the premier league’s presidential hopeful, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to replace President Jacob Zuma.

#SACP Cronin asking if December 2017 is going to happen, says there people in the ANC willing to collapse gathering if not in their favour— Matshidiso Madia (@tshidi_lee) July 13, 2017

Cronin asked what the SACP's responsibility would be if ANC members failed to push back against the premier league.

"They might want a new national patriotic front, but would they want to vote for a one with strong socialist leanings?" he asked.

The "premier league" is a label used to describe the premiers of Free State, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and North West, who have been staunch supporters of Zuma, and who are lobbying for Dlamini-Zuma to replace him.

The SACP is yet to officially pronounce on their preferred candidate, but it has called for Zuma to step down and barred him from attending its congress.

'Illusion' of 2007

It instead asked the ANC to deploy Ramaphosa, who is pitted against Dlamini-Zuma for the ANC top post.

Cronin admitted that the SACP had taken the decision to contest elections in 2007 already.

In his presentation, he focused on the circumstances that should influence the decision on the 2019 elections - including the entrance of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the "state of paralysis" facing the ANC and state capture.

Cronin: EFF is increasingly demilitarizing, less talk of CIC Malema like Nazis did and now going to courts. @News24— mahlatse gallens (@hlatseentle) July 13, 2017

However, there are those in the SACP who argue that the party should not have the same "illusion" as at the 2007 Polokwane conference, when they supported Zuma to oust Mbeki, believing they would have a greater influence on the ANC and government.

Cronin said the SACP had never pronounced on its preferred leader of the ANC.

"We have never pronounced on who should be leader of ANC. We might have done so in body language," he said, eliciting laughter from some delegates.

The SACP was at the forefront of Zuma's presidential campaign in 2007 and 2012.

However, following the allegations of state capture, the party has since called for Zuma to step down, with general secretary Blade Nzimande saying on Tuesday that they had been betrayed by Zuma.

Cronin: In 2019 ANC will still be the largest party but may well not have 50% plus... SACP if it contest will have to deal with that @News24— mahlatse gallens (@hlatseentle) July 13, 2017