Sunday, March 27, 2011
SACP boss in pre-election friction
Blade Nzimande accused of backing communist candidate to stand against ANC in Pietermaritzburg ward
Mar 26, 2011 11:41 PM | By SIBUSISO NGALWA
South African Communist Party (SACP) boss Blade Nzimande is embroiled in a feud over the selection of a councillor amid allegations that he backed an SACP member in his home town to stand as an independent against the ANC.
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In a fight which could further polarise the already fragile ANC-led alliance, an SACP and ANC member, Sandile Ngcobo, allegedly favoured by Nzimande, was rejected by the ANC's list committee as a candidate in KwaDambuza's ward 21 despite his backing by the community.
This resulted in a community meeting to announce the ANC's candidate, which ended in violence last Sunday when ANC and SACP supporters clashed over the list process.
A case of attempted murder and the pointing of a firearm has been opened against an ANC councillor and the ruling party's preferred candidate, Mtuza Mkhize, who is alleged to have attacked an SACP leader with a panga. Mkhize has laid a charge of public violence against his accuser.
KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo fled the meeting as comrades attacked each other with pangas and sticks.
The fight in Pietermaritzburg is over control and influence between Nzimande and senior ANC leaders like premier Zweli Mkhize, who all hail from the same area. This battle has trickled down to the branches, resulting in divisions along party lines.
Nzimande is from KwaDambuza, outside Pietermaritzburg.
On Friday, Ngcobo registered as an independent candidate and will face the ANC's candidate in the local government elections on May 18. His candidature has been endorsed by the local SACP ward, which argued that his decision represented the community's will.
The storm comes amid revelations that Nzimande left early on the last day of the ANC's national executive committee lekgotla in Pretoria on March 13 and travelled to KwaDambuza, where he met with Ngcobo and other sympathisers.
It has also been alleged that the plan for Ngcobo to stand as an independent candidate was hatched at that meeting.
The SACP's national office has denied that Nzimande held a meeting with supporters in KwaDambuza on that day.
But this was contradicted by SACP provincial secretary Themba Mthembu and Ngcobo, who confirmed that the meeting had taken place, but claimed that its purpose was to discuss problems with a development project in the area.
Nzimande is despised by local ANC leaders, who accuse him of meddling in their branch's affairs, a claim the communists dismiss as "total rubbish".
A local ANC leader blamed Nzimande for strained relations between the ANC and communists in the area.
"In all these problems, (Nzimande) is implicated. He raised (Ngcobo's) name at a function in December to give the elderly food parcels and said he should be the councillor. He has a hand in all this chaos," said the leader, who wanted to remain anonymous.
The allegation against Nzimande is serious, given his seniority in the ruling party as an NEC and national working committee member.
The ANC has warned members who stand as independents that they face expulsion.
SACP spokesman Malesela Maleka said Nzimande never held a meeting with sympathisers.
But when he was told that the Kwa-Zulu-Natal SACP had confirmed the meeting, he said: "(Nzimande), in his capacity as general secretary of the SACP, did not have any meeting ... to do with (the allegation that he backed Ngcobo)."
He said Nzimande had never endorsed Ngcobo, adding: "We will defeat the agenda of those ... who have sought to blame Blade for genuine problems which we are aware of ... that engulfed the nomination process around Pietermaritzburg and the rest of the country."
ANC spokesman Makhosi Khoza played down the tensions, while admitting there had been complaints about Nzimande.
"We have complaints about others leaders, like (health MEC) Dlomo, also complaints about Blade. Where there are areas of contestation, there will always be views about (leaders) ... such challenges are to be expected," said Khoza.
Comments by Sonny
The fall of the ANC alliance!
Traitor waiting at the gates to take over power!!