The SACP leadership has denied snubbing Kgalema Motlanthe after senior party leaders pulled a no-show at a gala dinner addressed by the deputy president on Saturday.
Motlanthe addressed the poorly attended event at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli ICC in Durban on Saturday night, with the SACP’s most senior leaders – general secretary Blade Nzimande and his deputy, Jeremy Cronin – nowhere to be seen.
Only the newly elected chairman, Senzeni Zokwana, and his deputy, Thulas Nxesi, attended the dinner, sparking rumours of a snub of Motlanthe by Nzimande, a known backer of President Jacob Zuma.
Motlanthe has enjoyed a rocky relationship with the communist party leader in the recent past.
But Nzimande was angered by the suggestion that he had snubbed Motlanthe, saying that he had been booked off for the day owing to exhaustion.
Cronin, on the other hand, had to continue at the conference held at the University of Zululand outside Richards Bay.
The second deputy general secretary of the SACP, Solly Mapaila, said the party’s secretariat had asked Nzimande to take time off on Saturday from conference work as he was feeling exhausted, and so as to allow him time to work on his closing address, delivered at the conference yesterday.
“Luckily, he listened to us this time,” Cronin quipped.
Nzimande said not everything should be viewed in the context of the pending contest for leadership at the ANC conference in Mangaung.
“I was exhausted, that’s all. Call me a Zuma cheerleader if you like. Anyway, when you turn right, people say but you can tell by the way he walks that he supports Zuma. And… they would say the way you cough shows that you support Zuma,” Nzimande said.
He stressed that the SACP had gone to the conference united, and emerged even more united.
But he said there were attempts to divert the attention of the conference to “trivial matters”, in reference to reports that Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim had been followed by unknown people while driving from the conference venue on Thursday night.
But Nzimande stressed that the incident had been sparked by an honest mistake by bodyguards attached to eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo.
Leaders close to Jim, including Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi – who tweeted about the incident – interpreted it as an attempt on Jim’s life, or to threaten him.
Jim, who has been campaigning for total nationalisation, is seen among those at the forefront of the campaign to unseat Zuma.
Jim and Nzimande have crossed paths on a number of issues, including the type of nationalisation programme that should be adopted by the country.
The bodyguards – who were metro policemen, according to Nzimande – had followed the wrong car from the conference.
“These people are metro police. In any matter, they have gone to the SAPS to report the matter… We cannot have manufactured martyrs – we have enough martyrs,” said Nzimande.
But those close to Jim have not accepted the explanation.
Yesterday, Vavi tweeted: “Won’t comment further on ‘honest mistake’ of police car with false registration numbers.”
Nzimande refused to comment on this, saying that “it would be like it’s our word against that of our comrade”.
Taking a swipe at the media, he said: “If Twitter is going to be the basis on which you get headlines, then heaven help us all.” - Daily News