Stalwarts and veterans of the ANC have said it is wrong for the party to expect its members of parliament to vote along party lines when a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma comes up in the National Assembly next month.
The former leaders of the party told delegates at the South African Communist Party's 14th congress, currently underway in Boksburg, that the ANC national executive committee needed to provide leadership.
"The NEC should ensure that when parliamentarians go to Parliament on August 8 to decide on whether or not there is a vote of confidence [against Zuma], in effect, what is being asked of members of parliament is to decide between South Africa and the president, to decide between our NDR [national democratic revolution] and the president," said Trevor Fowler, an ANC veteran and former municipal manager for the City of Johannesburg.
The ANC had issued an ultimatum to its MPs warning them that if they didn't vote against the motion to have Zuma removed, they could face possible disciplinary charges.
MP Makhosi Khoza has come under fire from some and has had both her life and those of family members threatened due to her request for National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete to allow for voting to be done using a secret ballot.
"It can't be correct because we know people who are committed to our democracy will have a difficult choice to make," Fowler said.
He said they knew most of the members of parliament and the governing party were committed to democracy.
Rise in political killings
Fowler also revealed a startling rise in political deaths across the country.
"Three to four years ago the number of political killings in our country had gone down to under 10. In the last 12 months there have been 37 political deaths in the country," he said.
He told delegates that the stalwarts knew there was an investigation but that the infighting at security agencies across the country posed a real danger in the country.
SACP deputy national chairperson Thulas Nxesi echoed these remarks, saying the party would not back down from the resolutions it had made at the Congress but also warned of potential danger ahead.
"We know that from some of the quarters the response to some of these legitimate concerns are going to be threats, intimidation [and] smear campaigns. There are going to be stories in the papers ... even mysterious accidents which can lead to political assassination when people start exposing some of these things," he said.
Nxesi said these should be expected because "that's the life you have chosen as comrades in defence of the country".
The SACP this week said the alliance with the ANC, Cosatu and Sanco was at an all-time low.
The three organisations had made calls for Zuma to step down, with Cosatu also banning the president from speaking at any of its engagements.
SACP still to decide on motion of no confidence
The Communist Party's MPs might be expected to also vote like their peers in the ANC but according to its general secretary Blade Nzimande the party would meet and deliberate on the way forward before the August 8 motion.
He told the SABC that the SACP would have to issue its own instruction to its members.
"All MPS are ANC MPs, so they are bound to be guided by what the ANC says but at the same time we are members of the SACP. We can't just blindly walk into a situation where we are being asked to endorse wrong things," said Nzimande.