Oliver Tambo
Johannesburg - Today the ANC is celebrating what would have been the 100th birthday of its longest-serving leader, Oliver Tambo, as desperate efforts intensify to stop the real prospect of a split in the party and the end of its alliance with the SACP and Cosatu.

On Thursday, leaders of the ruling party and the SACP met behind closed doors in Joburg to try to save their historical ties in the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle, during which he dumped SACP boss Blade Nzimande.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa authored a stinging letter to Tambo, in which he decried the lack of leadership in his party and apologised for erring and letting the movement falter on their watch.

The ANC was in a desperate situation, Kodwa told Tambo, who served the ANC’s external mission for 30 years.

Kodwa, a former spokesperson of the ANC Youth League and the Presidency, is also the party’s national executive committee deployee to the Eastern Cape.

He was one of the senior leaders of the organisation who presided over the recent conference of the province that was dubbed “the festival of chairs” after the meeting degenerated into chaos.

“The challenge confronting the movement today is not a vicious apartheid state, but vultures within, who have no qualms about obliterating your legacy and sacrificing the values our glorious movement has embodied at the altar of greed and personality cult,” he said.

Seen to be a close ally of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Kodwa said the most dangerous and “devastating” development was the people's loss of trust in the ANC, which had led to the party losing several metros in the local polls last year.

“We have lost our way and have become arrogant in power. Your movement, comrade president, is crying for leadership. Your country is crying for leadership that can restore confidence and inspire hope,” he said.

“Sadly, whenever we speak of unity, we make reference to you. Unity needs a figurehead to champion it in action, words and conduct."

Kodwa also warned that the tripartite alliance was teetering on the brink of collapse, which would have dire consequences for the ANC.

“I am saddened to report to you that your glorious movement is more divided than ever before, with some among us elevating personality cults above the unity and cohesion of the ANC.

"It saddens me to report that our revolutionary alliance relations are at an all-time low, with the SACP contemplating to go it alone in the future election,” he said.

On Thursday, Zuma and Nzimande faced each other for the first time since the president fired the Communist Party leader as the minister of higher education.

The two led their respective party delegations to the long-awaited alliance political council, which also comprised Cosatu and the South African National Civic Organisation.

Cosatu was led by its president, S'dumo Dlamini, a long-time ally of Zuma.

The seating arrangement in the boardroom on the 11th floor of Luthuli House reflected the tension between the ANC and its alliance partners.

Dlamini sat alongside Zuma and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, while Nzimande sat on the same row with his fellow SACP leaders and Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshali- ntshali, who have been vociferous in their appeals for Zuma to step down.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte tried to play down the tension inside Luthuli House but conceded that their political council was long overdue due to their political differences on various issues.

Duarte did not want to apportion any blame but said their meeting was intended to deal with their party differences, which included the calls by Cosatu and the SACP for Zuma to go.

On Thursday, both Cosatu and SACP officials told The Star, on condition of anonymity, that at the meeting they would call for Zuma to step down.

On October 20, the axe fell on Nzimande. Three days later, Zuma issued a proclamation to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) authorising the investigation of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of the Public Service Sector Education and Training (PSETA).

PSETA fell under Nzimande while he was minister.

In his proclamation, Zuma ordered the SIU to investigate the allegations of serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the organisation and improper and unlawful conduct by employees or officials of PSETA.

Earlier in the week, Nzimande confirmed that he was aware of the probe. He told Eyewitness News he was informed by the Justice Department ahead of Zuma making the proclamation.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo was not available to respond to the allegations.

Political Bureau