Deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, left, and general secretary Blade Nzimande at the SACP special congress in Soweto on Tuesday. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, left, and general secretary Blade Nzimande at the SACP special congress in Soweto in July last year. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

SOUTH African Communist Party (SACP) deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila says it was big mistake for the ANC to use the face of President Jacob Zuma on its posters during the recent local government elections because his approval ratings had reached an all-time low.

Mapaila was speaking in an exclusive interview with Ukhozi FM’s current affairs show on Monday evening. He said voters had rejected the ANC for, among other reasons, its failure to take drastic action after the Constitutional Court made findings that Zuma violated the constitution in the Nkadla saga and that the Guptas were ordering civil servants around and amassing tenders with almost all the state-owned enterprises.

"It was clear that President Jacob Zuma’s ratings had plummeted so low because of several scandals associated with him. It was therefore not a wise decision to use him as the face of the campaign. By using him as the face of the campaign the electorate assumed that the ANC and the alliance approves of everything that he is doing and they punished us," he said.

Mapaila said the SACP came to the decision during its central committee meeting, which was held a few days ago to assess the ANC’s disastrous performance during the recent election, which resulted in it losing the major metros of Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg to a coalition led by the DA. The ANC obtained 54% of the vote, losing mostly in urban areas where middle-class black people reside.

"The voters had punished us because people associated with us, like the Guptas, are exercising their will in government departments and picking and choosing lucrative tenders in state-owned companies like Eskom, Transnet, South African Airways, Denel and others. They punished us because arrogance has taken centre stage in the organisation. People saw that the movement is factionalised and divided, there are groups known as premier league who want to capture the organisation for their own factional ends, which have nothing to do with delivering services to the people," he said.

He added that some factionalist leaders in the ANC were driving a wedge between the ANC and SACP, strongly lobbying for the communist party’s Cabinet members to be purged.

Mapaila said that although the SACP felt the ANC could not carry on in its current state, it was sceptical of bringing forward the elective conference, scheduled for December 2017. "Instead, we feel that there should be a consultative conference of all the alliance partners, the progressive churches, the elders, the civic organisations, all the formations with whom we waged the struggle against apartheid. In this consultative conference all provinces should be given an equal number of delegates because there would be no voting. This consultative conference would discuss everything and anything and be able to take drastic decisions to revive the fortunes of the ANC. This would enable the ANC to heal itself and come up with programmes that would take us forward," Mapaila said.

Pressed on whether the SACP still had confidence in Zuma’s leadership, Mapaila that was "a matter for the ANC to decide on".