SACP will campaign for ANC ahead of 2019 elections

Alliance summit affirmed the need for the political relationship to continue, says Solly Mapaila

The SACP says its decision to continue campaigning for the ANC ahead of the 2019 general elections is not a deviation from resolutions adopted at its 174th national congress last year.

The ANC, SACP, trade union federation Cosatu and the South African National Civic Organisation held a media briefing at the ANC's headquarters on Tuesday, following a much-anticipated alliance summit meeting.

The meeting, which was initially meant to take place in 2017, had been postponed as fractured relations between the governing party and its alliance partners prevailed. Some in the ANC had called for an end to its long-established relationship with the three organisations, while members of the SACP considered going at it alone at the polls.

Members of the communist party in Metsimaholo, in the Free State, contested in a by-election on their own. This eventually resulted in a coalition government of the ANC and the SACP.

The ANC's secretary general, Ace Magashule, reading from a statement from all the organisations that participated in the summit, said they had all agreed to work towards one goal.

"We agreed that the 2019 election campaign must now be on the ground to ensure an overwhelming victory for the ANC," read Magashule.

Need for political relationship to continue

Explaining why the communist party still opted to stand behind the ANC, SACP first deputy president Solly Mapaila said the congress had given the political party two options.

"The first was a framework with the alliance, but congress said [this] couldn't happen until the alliance was reconfigured.

"The second was to go ahead and establish a front and participate in the elections through that particular front, but that's on the basis of the failure of the reconfiguration," said Mapaila.

He said the alliance summit affirmed the need for the political relationship to continue.

"We've always affirmed that we are having a discussion for the reconfiguration of the alliance. Simply meaning we are having a discussion to change the way the alliance has been functioning or operating so it can be inclusive and based on a democratic consensus-seeking approach," said Mapaila regarding calls for a need to reconfigure the relationship between the governing party and its allies.

The SACP deputy said a task team from the alliance would come up with a single working document, which would be looked at by all the organisations' structures and then deliberated over at a national alliance summit with the hope of coming up with a framework and modalities that all can agree on.

Condolences to Zuma

Mapaila did not want to articulate the SACP's views on former president Jacob Zuma, but admitted the issue was raised by the communist party at the two-day meeting.

The SACP was one of the first organisations to call on the ANC to recall Zuma, saying he was not fit to continue leading the country as head of state. The SACP has also taken issue with him being present at ANC election campaign events in recent months. It also threatened not to campaign for the ANC if the former president was allowed to continue, but Mapaila refused to share what the SACP told the ANC, instead choosing to send condolences to Zuma, whose son passed away recently.

"As communists we are compelled to always speak the truth, we have raised the matter in the meeting. It is important to appreciate that [former] president Zuma is still mourning the loss of his son and we express our condolences to him and his family on this blow of losing a loved one and we want to respect him in that space, to mourn properly," said Mapaila.

The alliance summit is set to continue from July 15 to 16.