SACP member faces charges

Green Left Parramatta glparramatta at SPAMgreenleft.org.au
Fri Aug 11 16:56:17 MDT 2000


Johannesburg. August 11, 2000

SACP to grill outspoken McKinley

The South African Communist Party has launched disciplinary
proceedings against one of its senior members

KHADIJA MAGARDIE reports.

 Freelance journalist Dale McKinley, has been accused of bringing
the party and its alliance partners into disrepute.

McKinley is set to be grilled for more than two hours by a panel
made up of the top hierarchy of the party, including deputy SACP
general secretary Jeremy Cronin and Minister of Water Affairs and
Forestry Ronnie Kasrils.

The hearing could be postponed because of procedural issues
relating to McKinley's right to external legal representation.
Given the severity of the charges, he faces suspension, even
expulsion, from the party.

The last time the party hauled one of its members before a
disciplinary tribunal was in 1993, which led to the suspension of
the late Harry Gwala.

The charges stem from a series of articles written by McKinley in
his personal capacity that were published in several newspapers,
including the Mail & Guardian [and Australia's Green Left
Weekly].

All indications are that the party's major grievances are related
to an article penned by McKinley for the M&G ("The evolution of
the ANC", February 25 to March 2 2000).

The article broached whether the African National Congress
alliance had betrayed its core socialist values - in particular a
commitment to redistribute wealth - by becoming a slave to
capitalism.

What appears to have been the main point of contention with the
SACP leadership is McKinley's implication that former
revolutionaries and trade unionists have now themselves joined
the ranks of the "capitalism-with-a-human-face club".

Although the charge sheet was drawn up by the SACP, of which
McKinley is a member, it is understood the disciplinary inquiry
stems more from the writer's criticism of the ruling ANC than the
SACP itself. McKinley's article was an extrapolation of ideas he
advanced in a book he authored, entitled The ANC and the
Liberation Struggle. The book was given wide press coverage,
including in the M&G, following its release in 1997. Insiders
have questioned why the sentiments expressed in the book three
years ago were not subjected to a similar lashing by the SACP.
"One can draw the conclusion that this entire hearing is related
to the changed balance of power - and one can clearly see the
direction from which these comments have come," said one SACP
member, who did not wish to be named.

According to the lengthy charge sheet the article "calls into
question the credibility of the ANC and its leadership in a
manner not befitting a member of the SACP". It goes on to say
that the article also undermines the party's alliance with the
ANC.

The charge sheet criticises McKinley's thesis that the ANC is not
a revolutionary party, saying such talk represents "a violation
of one of the party's policies of not questioning the bona fides
of our allies, no matter how strongly we can disagree on a
matter". McKinley also stands accused of "insulting" the Congress
of South African Trade Unions leadership in an article published
in the Australian journal Green Left Weekly by implying that they
were becoming capitalists.

In a section entitled "Publicly and Consistently Promoting
Positions that Undermine the SACP", the charge sheet describes as
"a serious offence" McKinley's apparent contradiction, in public,
of the party's own publicly stated positions - citing McKinley's
critique of Budget 2000 in a London-based communist journal as an
example.

The case raises serious questions about the right of the
individual to freedom of speech, while at the same time being
subject to the rules and regulations relating to membership of a
voluntary organisation, political or otherwise. The Freedom of
Expression Institute has taken up McKinley's case because, it
says, it goes beyond a personal issue and has wider implications
for the constitutional right to free speech. McKinley declined to
comment, saying it may be premature and prejudice his case. He
confirmed that he refutes all the charges. The SACP has confirmed
that disciplinary proceedings are being instituted against
McKinley, but refused to elaborate.

"We will treat this as an internal matter between the party and
its members," said Mazibuko Jara, national SACP spokesperson. He
added:"We will not conduct our internal affairs through the M&G
or any paper."



-- The Mail&Guardian, August 11,
2000.





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