PUBLIC spats between leaders of the alliance occurred recently in relation to what economic policy direction the Jacob Zuma government should take.
Billy Masetlha in a recent Mail & Guardian interview bemoaned the dominance of communists in government and Parliament, saying "the ANC was never a socialist organisation" and that there is a need to "protect it from being taken over by communists".
A spirited rejoinder followed from the Young Communist League, saying Masetlha wanted to take the alliance back to the pre-Polokwane era. Julius Malema recently said on SABC TV that "the ANC Youth League would never allow communists to take it over". Many alliance leaders have since 1994 spoken about how the alliance was more important now than ever before.
Historical reasons for the formation of the alliance between the ANC, SACP and the then South African Congress of Trade Unions, now Cosatu, and South African National Civic Organisation, are no longer relevant after the transition from apartheid to democracy.
An 1989 SACP document, titled The Communist Party fight for Freedom, quotes the African Communist (No 87, fourth quarter 1991: Two Pillars of our struggle) as saying: "The ANC is a mass movement fighting for national liberation. The SACP is a Marxist-Leninist party fighting for socialism.
"There can be democracy without socialism, but there can be no socialism without democracy. When South African people opt for socialism they will do so on their own free will, not because they were ordered to do so by the SACP."
Clearly parties in the alliance had different ideologies. The common enemy was the apartheid government that subjugated the majority and denied them their democratic rights. The common goal was the defeat of apartheid and creation of a democratic state.
So the SACP, not the ANC, pursued socialism and communism, but it had to join forces with allies to attain democracy first and socialism later.
An SACP seminal document: The Path To Power, adopted in 1989, says under the heading The National Democratic Revolution and the Transition to Socialism that "victory in the national democratic revolution is, for our working class, the most direct route to socialism and ultimately communism.
The existence in South Africa of the material conditions for socialism, the relatively advanced technical level and a strong working class and the achievement of the national democratic revolution, will not in themselves guarantee an advance to socialism.
To create conditions for such an advance, the working class will have to ensure that the national democratic tasks are carried out. The working class must win for itself a dominant role in the new government and see to it that the character of the democratic state accords with the genuine interests of the people."
No wonder we have a dominance of unionists and communists in the leadership of the ANC and Parliament, which rubs non-communists like Masetlha up the wrong way. This is part of the programme of the SACP as envisaged at their seventh congress in 1989.
The question becomes: Does the SACP want the ANC to help it build socialism and communism? Is it not now the time, post the national democratic revolution, that the SACP independently promotes socialism and communism to the electorate and not impose it on the ANC and the nation in the name of the alliance?
The alliance at its inception was a tactical one, not meant to last beyond the attainment of the democratic state.
l The writer is a businessman and an independent commentator on media and politics