South African Parliament fire, ConCourt attack linked to ANC infighting

This photo supplied by the City of Cape Town shows smoke rising from the Houses of Parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. Firefighters are still working at the Parliament complex Monday after a major blaze tore through the precinct Sunday. (Bruce Sutherland/City of Cape Town via AP)

THE SACP believes the fire that burnt down parts of the parliamentary precinct and the attack on the Constitutional Court building are connected to last July’s violent unrest.

SACP boss Blade Nzimande called on South Africans to defend the gains the ANC government has made since 1994.

“You see what’s happening, Cde Lechesa,” he said to Lechesa Tsenoli, deputy speaker of the National Assembly. “Today I am sitting next to you saying, ‘Oh shame, my deputy speaker is homeless today.’ There is no parliament. It’s a very serious matter.”

Nzimande said while they wanted to give the law-enforcement agencies an opportunity to investigate the fire, the SACP had its “very own suspicions” that it was “not unconnected to the counterrevolution that was waged in July last year”.

“It is not unconnected to that,” said Nzimande.

That someone was vandalising the Constitutional Court on the day acting chief justice Raymond Zondo was handing over the state capture commission report to President Cyril Ramaphosa was also an indication of deliberate intent, he said.

“It is not an accident. We are suspicious this thing is planned. We can’t relax when we can see the counterrevolution coming. It’s like an oncoming train.”

Nzimande was addressing the SACP’s 27th annual commemoration of the death of former national chairperson Joe Slovo.

He called on all “progressive forces” and the widest possible sections of SA society, in honour of Slovo, to unite and align to “defend the revolution”.

Nzimande warned that if the ANC did not deal with factionalism, it was at a risk of not only losing support among the urban working class, small businesses and professionals but that it would, like Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe, become a rural movement that does not have an urban base.

While the ANC government can still do more, mistakes have been made, terrible mistakes, he said.

The fact that it does not control a single metro in Gauteng is something it should seriously reflect upon.

Nzimande said the organised working class and organised communities in Joburg and in Gauteng were at the forefront of the struggle against apartheid but today, the ANC was losing metros.

“Does it mean there is something wrong happening with our working class in the major urban areas? Is there tension now between the ANC and the urban working class?”

Nzimande said public-sector workers were unhappy that the government didn’t honour the 2018 wage agreement and this could have upset the urban working class and contributed to the ANC losing the metros.

He had also, having been home in Pietermaritzburg over the festive season, found that some of the ANC comrades were not learning the lessons.

“They are still continuing to impose candidates as mayors. They are still continuing to act factionally. If we can’t reflect and accept then there is something wrong, then we are on a downward spiral.

“Some of our comrades, if they are comrades, they are refusing to hear the voice of the people crying that this is no longer the ANC we know,” he said.

He said that in the 2000 local government elections, the ANC received 40% of all the registered voters’ votes, and in 2021 it got 14.5% of the votes from registered voters. This  meant “we have huge and serious challenges that we have to confront”.

“There is this thing we are all complaining about — factionalism. Let’s analyse it a bit deeper. The struggle against factionalism can’t be a moralistic struggle,” he said.

Factionalism is closely linked to control over resources, said Nzimande.

“You’ve got a faction in a region that controls the ANC, and then controls the municipal budget in a particular municipality which they chow and what unites them as a faction is to chow that municipal budget. Factionalism is deeply interlinked to corruption.

“We cannot fight factionalism without at the same time waging a struggle against corruption both inside and outside our movement,” he said.

Nzimande warned that just pleading against factionalism is not going to help as in places like Mamelodi, it now involved gangsters — and izinkabi (hitmen) in KwaZulu-Natal.

“We see an overlap between factional conflicts in our movement and gangsters and criminality. If we allow this to continue, then our revolution is gone,” he said.


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