THE South African Communist Party (SACP) cannot sustain itself financially and should therefore be allowed to utilise Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) office space free of charge, according to draft resolutions prepared for discussion at the union federation’s national congress.
The resolutions are "sponsored", or put forward, by two of Cosatu’s largest affiliates, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu).
This comes as sections of Cosatu remain put out by the party’s refusal to have its general secretary, Blade Nzimande, serve full-time and abandon his Cabinet post.
The proposal also comes after speculation that Cosatu affiliate the South African Municipal Workers Union, in Gauteng, had moved to kick the SACP out of its office space. There are perceptions among members of Cosatu that the SACP leadership was exerting undue influence over general secretaries in the federation, who sit on its central committee, in a bid to influence the federation’s direction, on the African National Congress (ANC) succession race in particular.
In Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s draft political report to the congress, he writes that the SACP’s endorsement of contentious decisions taken by the state indicated a "conservative" approach to the challenges facing society.
He also wrote that the party was "hamstrung by the absorption of its leading cadre into the movement", referring to Mr Nzimande.
Another problem between the party and the federation described by Mr Vavi is the SACP’s interpretation of the "victory of Cde (ANC president Jacob) Zuma and the appointment of its leaders in Cabinet as a major breakthrough, which must be defended at all costs".
"This threatens to bring the pendulum back to the domination of the SACP by government … who can forget the SACP that was beholden to the state, defending GEAR (the growth, employment and redistribution programme) and driving a host of anti-worker programmes," Mr Vavi said in the draft report.
The general secretary of the NUM, Frans Baleni, and its president, Senzeni Zokwana, both rank among the SACP’s top leadership. The same applies to Sadtu general secretary John Maluleke.
However, the teachers’ union president, Thobile Ntola, failed to make it back on to the SACP’s central committee — he is seen as an ally of Mr Vavi.
In the draft resolutions, the NUM and Sadtu recommend that all Cosatu central executive committee and provincial executive committee members from all affiliates should be members of the party and should pay a levy as prescribed by the SACP.
Another draft resolution sponsored by the two unions states that the SACP and Cosatu should convene a "conference of the left" to develop a "socialist charter for SA".
"The SACP should timely (sic) analyse the material conditions prevalent and determine how best conditions allowed for the party to consider contesting electoral power," the draft resolutions read.
The NUM and Sadtu also recommend that Cosatu resolve to "waive" or "stop charging rent" for the SACP’s occupation of office space at the federation’s plush, multimillion-rand headquarters in Braamfontein, while not charging rent and for Cosatu to "continue with other financial assistance that it used to contribute, or is planning to contribute, to the SACP".
"Cosatu should take the office space of the SACP as part of Cosatu’s internal office space arrangements, as such each time Cosatu changes its building, the SACP should be part of the Cosatu space…" the draft resolution reads.
The two unions also want no conditions or "disclosures" to be attached to any financial assistance provided to the SACP.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA is among the Cosatu affiliates that may oppose the draft resolutions — as irritation with the party leadership boiled over recently due to Mr Nzimande’s public criticism of Numsa over its views on his deployment.
Numsa — the second-largest Cosatu affiliate — sponsored a resolution to review the federation’s position on influencing the ANC leadership contest results.