17/07/2017 11:49 BST | Updated 17/07/2017 12:00 BST

The SACP's 'Flip-Flopping' About Contesting 2019 Elections Alone Shows It's Torn Up About Opposing ANC

It seems the party is waiting to see who the next ANC leader will be before making any clear plans.

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South African President Jacob Zuma (C) holds hands with Blade Nzimande (L) and President of Cosatu Sdumo Dlamini (R).


Although the South African Communist Party has opted to contest future elections independently, it seems the party is not sure on exactly when and how it will detach itself from the ruling party.

It appears the communists are waiting for the outcome of the ANC's national conference in December, where a new president for the party will be elected, to determine the way forward.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said the lack of clarity and "flip-flopping" of the SACP on their decision to contest elections independently is an indication of how difficult the choice is for them.

"They are saying to the ANC, if you stuff up in December, we are out. Now the SACP have stated their intentions and have put the ball back into the ANC's court. Pulling away from the ANC will take various steps, this is the first of those steps," Mathekga said.

He said he does not believe that if the ANC chooses "the right leader", the SACP will still choose to step out of the alliance.

"The SACP is upping their stakes in bargaining with the ANC. I don't think this is a conspiracy to save the ANC. In a cross-benefit analysis, the SACP will see their relationship with the ANC as the best way to influence policy," Mathekga said.

"If the ANC is no longer in power, there is no point in the SACP being in the alliance."

Political scientist Keith Gottschalk, from the University of Western Cape, said the SACP would have less members of parliament if they were to stand alone, but they will seemingly wait for the outcomes of the ANC's December conference to then discuss their way forward.

"The SACP is also talking about linking up with other organisations like faith-based structures and unions to create a pro-poor campaign. Whether they can do more good by lobbying inside the ANC or outside it remains to be seen," Gottschalk said.

Following a week of deliberations at their national congress, the SACP resolved to contest elections independently of the ANC. However, the party has not stipulated which year it plans to contest and still has to decide on the 2019 elections.

Party leader, Blade Nzimande, also said they have not consulted COSATU on their decision as yet. And at the same time, the party said it still has faith in the ANC-led alliance and is still committed to restoring its function.

Nzimande also said that his party's MPs will take their cue from the ANC on their fate.