ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe
Johannesburg - The keenly awaited bilateral meeting between the ANC and SACP collapsed at the 11th hour because ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and SACP boss Blade Nzimande could not agree on the agenda.

SACP acting spokesperson Mhlekwa Nxumalo said they wanted to brief the ruling party’s leadership on their resolutions taken at the July elective conference.

These included their repeated call for President Jacob Zuma to step down and that the SACP had resolved to contest elections in 2019 on its own.

This meant that had the meeting gone ahead and had Zuma attended, party bosses such as Zuma’s fierce critic, Solly Mapaila, would have told the president face-to-face that his time was up.

Nxumalo said Nzimande spoke over the phone with Mantashe for about an hour before the meeting was due to take place at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in Joburg on Monday, in an effort to agree on an agenda.

“We wanted to check and satisfy ourselves with the agenda items that would be discussed so that we all agree on them. But during the telephone discussion between the secretariats, we discovered that the ANC had their priority items they wanted to put forward on the agenda, and we also had ours,” Nxumalo said.

SACP boss Blade Nzimande

“It was clear that if we proceeded with that meeting, it wouldn’t be helpful to either of the two organisations.

“Therefore, it was agreed that the secretariat of the ANC and of the SACP must sit down and prioritise all the issues that need to be discussed and schedule another meeting in two weeks’ time,” he said.

Nxumalo would not be drawn on other SACP items that were on the agenda.

“I don’t think it’s fair to share them with the media until we have shared them with the ANC.”

He admitted, however, that some of the issues they would have tabled before the ANC leadership included the party’s call for Zuma to go and that the SACP intended contesting state power on its own.

“Yes, we had those items on the agenda, and a few others that were going to be discussed,” said Nxumalo.

When contacted for comment, Mantashe said neither party wanted the meeting to be a mudslinging match.

“We agreed to develop a comprehensive agenda and be focused and not be all over the place. We also wanted to avoid a bilateral that becomes a mudslinging exercise,” Mantashe said.

The last meeting between the ANC and SACP was in March, before Zuma reshuffled his cabinet. The SACP came out afterwards with guns blazing, saying Zuma had relied on a dubious intelligence report to fire then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.

Mantashe said a date for another meeting between the two parties had not yet been set, “but it will be held soon”.

Political analysts have warned that there won’t be any fruitful meetings between the two parties in the lead-up to the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Wits University political analyst Susan Booysen said the fact that the alliance partners could not agree on the agenda was the “worst kind of indictment on the Zuma presidency”.

“This is seriously bad and is an indication of what the ANC has come to in the time of Jacob Zuma,” she said.

“In fact, for all political purposes there is no alliance anymore,” she added.

Booysen said the SACP’s demands were “reasonable and find widespread resonance in society”.

Another political analyst, Dumisani Hlophe, said the meeting between the two parties was “not going to work”.

“The SACP doesn’t recognise the leadership of President Zuma. Between now and December, there won’t be any fruitful alliance meetings of any sort. The relationship between the two organisations is hostile because of that no-confidence vote on President Zuma by the SACP,” he said.

Political Bureau