[DEBATE] : Presidents' joint statement flies in face of SACP, Cosatu hopes of break with neo-liberal governance
grinker at mweb.co.za
Wed Jun 11 14:03:53 BST 2008
This story will run and run...
Presidents' joint statement flies in face of SACP, Cosatu hopes of break
with neo-liberal governance
Sithembiso Msomi, The Times, 11 June 2008
Thabo Mbeki might be a lame-duck president, but recently he showed he is not
about to be prematurely forced out of office without a fight.
Nor will he surrender executive authority to the "new political masters" who
defeated him at the ANC's national conference in December, where he
unsuccessfully attempted to be re- elected as party president.
Since Polokwane, Mbeki has found himself on the back foot, with growing
sections of society calling for his axing as head of state.
These calls gained momentum in recent months when the SA Communist Party
publicly tried to convince the ANC to recall him.
In post- Polokwane ruling-party politics, the SACP has become the most
powerful lobby group - having played a critical role in installing Jacob
Zuma as the new ANC president.
These days, what the SACP says is no longer dismissed as the rantings of a
They have used the recall threat, supported by a number of ANC National
Executive Committee members, to force Mbeki to implement decisions of the
Frustrated by his apparent refusal to take ANC instructions on contentious
issues such as the appointment of ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe
into cabinet, and the dissolution of the current SABC board, the SACP and
its allies must have thought the threat of a recall would force Mbeki to
But Mbeki had one trick up his sleeve: Zuma.
Last month, a Sunday newspaper wrote a front- page story claiming "the Mbeki
camp" was involved in a "fight-back campaign" to win the control of key ANC
structures ahead of next year's elections.
Mbeki was seemingly so incensed by the article that he instructed his
director- general, Frank Chikane, to talk to Zuma about the possibility of
the two presidents writing a joint letter distancing themselves from the so-
called "Mbeki and Zuma camps".
The deal sounded good to Zuma - the two needed to embark on a public
show-of- unity campaign.
But what eventually hit the headlines last weekend goes far beyond just
responding to a speculative news story.
The letter has effectively disarmed the SACP and other Mbeki critics by
removing a recall as one of the options open to the ANC leadership.
In the joint letter, Zuma and Mbeki stress that the ANC has no plans to
"destabilise our system of governance" by removing the president from
This means that those NEC members who were planning to force the matter back
onto the party's agenda at their next meeting have been defeated.
But perhaps more worrying for the SACP and other- left-leaning groups , is
the statement by Mbeki and Zuma that policy positions adopted at Polokwane
"do not represent a qualitative break" with past party positions.
This flies in the face of the left's claim that Polokwane represented a
break with the Mbeki-led neo-liberal "1996 class project" with the objective
of turning the ANC into a party for the rich.
In the letter, Zuma also agrees with Mbeki that, since the ANC came into
office in 1994, it has "not implemented any government programme that was
hidden from the people".
This seems to be a dismissal, by both leaders, of the SACP and Cosatu
statements that the government's macroeconomic policy was adopted without
consultation. If Zuma agrees with Mbeki that there was nothing wrong with
party policies in the past, is there any chance the left would realise any
of the economic changes they hoped to achieve under a Zuma government?
More information about the Debate-list