South Africa's reds might soon decide to ditch the African National Congress (ANC) and contest elections on its own.
Adrian Williams, who serves as an ANC MP, but is also a member of the South African Communist Party's (SACP) central committee (CC), argues in the latest edition of the party's internal publication, Umsebenzi (PDF), the SACP should contest elections "as soon as it is ready to do so".
This follows the statement at the weekend by the SACP's CC that it would officially table the issue at the organisation's congress, which would be held in July 2017. According to the statement, the struggle and liberation consensus within the governing alliance "has eroded" due to the emergence of a "reckless, conservative populism" in the movement.
Williams says if the SACP does indeed decide to go its own way, it will effectively challenge the ANC's capacity to lead. He calls such a step "inevitable" and "radical" and adds a fear of failure at the ballot box is not a legitimate argument.
"There is a perception the SACP might get only 3 percent at the poll. A legitimate argument for not contesting the elections independently at the current time would be: what if the SACP won with 67 percent? This would be a two-thirds majority and would allow for constitutional amendments."
This decision however shouldn't be taken lightly and the party needs to ask itself whether it has the skills and resources to govern.
Williams proposes that amendment to the SACP's constitution be considered, which would prevent any member of the CC serving in an executive position unless he is elected as a member of the SACP. He also bemoans the lack of influence the SACP's ANC deployees have in state affairs — this despite the fact that both the ANC and SACP fought in the trenches during the struggle.
In its statement over the weekend, the CC said if the SACP enters the next election on its own questions needs to be asked whether the governing alliance — which consists of the ANC, SACP and Cosatu — is still viable.