JOHANNESBURG, October 17 – The South African Communist Party (SACP) on Tuesday said its members in Cabinet will remain in Parliament despite the unilateral axing of its secretary general, Blade Nzimande, as Higher Education and Training Minister.
This comes after President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet and took Hlengiwe Mkhize from the home affairs portfolio to replace Nzimande as higher education minister. This ministry also has a new deputy minister in Buti Manamela, a former SACP youth leader.
In a hastily convened media briefing, SACP deputy secretary general Solly Mapaila said that the communist party would not allow itself to be “cajoled” by Zuma into accepting Nzimande’s axing, but also saying that the party would not allow the tripartite alliance to collapse because of their differences.
“This is a clear declaration of war on the SACP by President Zuma because it is quite clear that the decision has nothing to do with strengthening the State or Cabinet. In any case, he has retained deadwood in that Cabinet, people who are laced with corruption and scandals yet he is not removing them,” Mapaila said.
“This reshuffle was actually a decoy. There was no reshuffle actually. The intention was just to remove comrade Blade, essentially that is what Zuma has done. That is why we are reading it clear, it’s an attack on the SACP and we are going to effectively respond back to him as the SACP.”
Asked whether Nzimande and other SACP members would resign as MPs, Mapaila said the party has, for now, decided that they should remain in Parliament, pending a directive from a higher structure of the party.
“The issue of SACP ministers resigning or staying has been discussed before in the politburo and the special central committee of the SACP about the fact that Cabinet does not belong to Zuma. We participate in the elections through the alliance as the SACP. We fight together in the trenches with the ANC, we give a mandate to a president through a party political system. President Zuma did not stand as an individual and win elections. Therefore Cabinet does not belong to him,” Mapaila said.
“We will give an effective response to that effect when a bigger forum of the SACP meets. We will also decide in that particular meeting whether comrade Blade remains in Parliament or he comes back to the party headquarters because even when we sent him to Parliament, it was a decision of the SACP.”
Mapaila said Zuma has “detached himself” from the masses that support the liberation movement and that some of the ANC leaders cannot defend some of the decision he makes.
The briefing was attended by SACP leaders except for Nzimande “because this affected him directly”. Mapaila said that Nzimande needed at least two days “to reflect” on the decision to remove him before speaking to the media.