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THE South African Communist Party does not see anything wrong in having some of its national leaders holding key positions in the ANC-led government.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says it is the responsibility of communists to have a presence in all sectors of society - "including the state".
Nzimande in justifying his position - of being both the general secretary of the SACP and minister of higher education - says he was not the only one within the alliance holding two such key positions.
"Many individuals in the alliance hold several positions," he said. "Some premiers are also chairpersons of the ANC. I 'm not so sure what the issue is.
"As far as this matter applies to me personally it is actually naughty (to make an issue of it). Communists are everywhere - as well as in government - since 1994."
Addressing the media before the start of the SACP's four-day special congress in Limpopo yesterday, Nzimande said: "There are improved relations within the alliance and there is space to deal with our differences - unlike before when we were suffocated."
Relations between the SACP and ANC have indeed improved post-Polokwane - with President Jacob Zuma now in charge.
But some critics , including some members of the SACP, have argued that the SACP has become too comfortable with the situation and was failing in its mandate to pursue a socialist agenda.
One such critic is SACP member and Amandla editor-at-large Mazibuko Jara, who argues that the SACP was happy with the relationship it has with the Zuma-led ANC - but not to the exclusion of other possible allies outside the alliance. This, Jara argues, undermines the socialist agenda.
Nzimande said the SACP was not apologetic about its relations with the ANC.
"We are not an opposition to the ANC and we take co-responsibility in governing the country."
The congress comes at a time when there is increasing debate within the SACP about the deployment of its members within government.
Some have even questioned Nzimande's position, saying that having a general secretary of the party holding a ministerial position could weaken the party.
Yesterday central committee members, who addressed the media with Nzimande, said that political shifts after Polokwane necessitated different strategies when it came to the deployment of SACP members to various sectors of society, including the state.
In one of the discussion documents the SACP alludes to the current debate, saying it is important but it should not be allowed to divide the party.