Johannesburg - South African Communist Party's (SACP) first deputy general secretary, Jeremy Cronin, on Monday announced that he was unavailable for re-election to the party's leadership, saying that he had served his time in the party.
This comes as the SACP is holding its 14th National Congress this week where it will elect new leadership to take the party forward for the next five years.
Cronin told the media that he had made a "difficult choice" to step down in a bid to strike a balance between injecting fresh blood into the movement and to see its continued stability.
He said that he was proud to be leaving the party when its leadership was "easily unified and most stable", unlike its alliance partners.
"The election of the officials of the SACP leadership and indeed of the incoming Central Committee is in the hands of the delegates. But there is a question of availability, let me state upfront that I am not going to be available to return into my current position. So we can categorically say that whatever is the fate of other comrades, there's at ;east one non-availability. It's been a very difficult choice for me and for everyone of us," Cronin said.
"All of us recognise at least three different imperatives. It's important for any political party to have renewal and that we bring in fresh blood, and what is encouraging having been a member of the communist Party since 1968, is that if very important to have a degree of continuity. Secondly, stability is very important."
Other SACP national office bearers, including second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, did not openly indicate whether they would stand for re-election or step down, only indicating that any change to leadership must be necessary. It is expected that the SACP leadership will remain intact after election.
General secretary Blade Nzimande said he wished he was joining Cronin to step down, but "do you change leadership when the truck is going downhill at a speed?".
"We are in a very difficult political situation in this country. The next six months are extremely unpredictable. We do not know who will be left standing after all these Gupta leaks. If I had my personal preference, I would be joining comrade Cronin and retire," Nzimande said.
The SACP Congress begins in earnest on Tuesday and will end on Saturday.