South African Communist Party's Jeremy Cronin. Picture: Siphelele Dludla/ANA
Johannesburg - The SA Communist Party (SACP) on Thursday treaded carefully on the subject of challenging for State power and contesting elections as a stand-alone political party. 

This comes as former SACP first deputy general secretary, Jeremy Cronin, bravely and politely brushed off ambitions of some of the party's members for it to contest elections, saying that a breakaway from the tripartite alliance would reverse the gains of the workers and further damage the tripartite alliance. 

"The SACP is not, nor will it become, a narrowly electoralist formation [which is] exactly one of the current problems of the ANC. "We need to understand the dangers we are facing as an alliance and as the ANC. Let us ensure that we help the ANC get in good order,"  Cronin said. 

"Our commitment to elections is guided by our overarching strategic commitment to advance, deepen and defend a radical NDR [National Democratic Revolution], the South African road to socialism." 

"Our strategic objective in regard to state power is to secure, not party political, but working class hegemony over the state, as part of our wider medium-term vision to build working class hegemony in all sites of power."

The SACP is in alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Union Federation (Cosatu), and has never contested elections on its own.  ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday warned the SACP against going it alone and contesting the elections in 2019. 

At its  14th National Congress , the SACP has been actively calling for the reconfiguration of the alliance where it would have a louder voice and bigger decision-making influence, while also toying with the idea of contesting elections.

Presenting the party's report on State power at the congress, Cronin decried the current state of the alliance, saying that the alliance was "actively reconfiguring by de-composing" as a result of ANC's leadership paralysis and parasitic capture. 

Cronin tabled two scenarios in which the SACP seizes the moment electorally and another in which it pauses and waits for the outcome of the African National Congress (ANC) elective conference in December. 

In one scenario, Cronin said that the Communist Party must lead a new front for socialism, a Left front, a unit of Left and all progressive formations. In another scenario, Cronin asked if it was the right moment to make a decision, bearing in mind that the  ANC would hold an elective conference in December.

"The outcomes of the December conference are extremely uncertain. What happens if the Premier League slate wins? Some of us won't remain.  We agree that a major reconfiguration is needed and that we need to infuse a greater socialist, anti-capitalist inflexion into the NDR platform," Cronin said. 

"But what will be the impact on Cosatu of a radical break with the ANC? Will its resources and and campaigning muscle be available, and will this unite Cosatu and the wider working class or cause more divisions?"

So what are electoral estimations in an SACP-led Left or popular front electoral platform?

"We don't know, and it's difficult to know until or unless the SACP actually launches a party-led campaign," Cronin said. 

"In early 2000s at the height of SACP/Cosatu Left axis campaigning against the 1996 Class Project, a Cosatu funded shop-steward survey found that SACP's ideological and campaigns were highly appreciated but only six percent expressed support for independent SACP electoral ticket. But things have changed since then."  

African News Agency