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Vol. 8 No. 5: 5th - 12th October 2012

Ronald Lamola

Without an iota of fear, let democracy reign supreme!

"By affirming the ANC branch, we are re-affirming the notion that democracy shall forever reign supreme in the ANC and in our country. Democracy is what people want, if we are to align our definition to the early propositions by the ancient Greeks."

As we move closer to Mangaung, some have called this an elective conference due to the hype around the leadership issues. Parallel to our preparations for National Conference in December, is the heated electioneering in the United States of America, between the leading candidates from the Democrats, the incumbent Barack Obama, and the Conservatives represented by Romney.

The ancient Greeks would be proud in their graves, that indeed their thesis of democracy, a government of the people by the people for the people thrives on, centuries after they first famously coined it. Would the giants that contributed to our illustrious 100 years of ANC led struggle be proud too?

Would John Langalibalele Dube, Anton Muziwakhe Lembede, OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, Chris Hani, Ruth First, Lillian Ngoyi and many more be proud too?

Would Anton Lembede be proud that the ANC Youth League has lived up to its historical role of being an autonomous body wrestling with leadership and policy issues without fear? Similarly, would Lillian Ngoyi and Ruth First be happy that the ANC Women League is a body that affirms women and gender issues and not used as a platform for careerism in the name of women empowerment?

As we move to Mangaung, we do so on the foothills of history, which admonishes us to act rightly, in the interest of the masses for whom so long has been the receiving end of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.

We are fully aware of the various concerns that have been raised, pointing to the suggestion that the air in which we live and express our political choices has been poisoned. Some have even gone to the extent of doubting the validity of the credentials presented by the ANC Officials, suggesting that we have reason to worry.

Indeed if the allegation be true, we would have reason to worry because in Mangaung must be a proxy of our people's democratic expression on the choice of leadership and policies, and not the alleged cooked list of delegates.

It is important to vigilantly guard against any possibility that the results of delegates may have been distorted to suit the ANC incumbents at Luthuli House. We had similar worries towards Polokwane and we duly intervened as the ANC Youth League and demanded that counting of leadership votes must not be done electronically as that may give rise to the suspicions that something is amiss.

It was then our contention that democracy must reign supreme, whether the President was comrade Jacob Zuma or comrade Thabo Mbeki as well as all the other officials and members contesting positions into the ANC National Executive Committee.

In hindsight, we must be proud because we believe democracy indeed won the day in Polokwane and that our objections and effort at correcting what would probably have led to a disaster was averted without allegations of ill discipline on our part. That is the essence of democracy, the knowledge that one's choices would not result in undue punishment as that is preserve for dictatorships.

It was, as it were, an expression of our democratic right on righting what we believed was wrong. Even now, when we say to the ANC National Working Committee and the entire NEC that the air within which Mangaung is to be convened must not be polluted with reasons to believe that something amiss is lurking underneath the supposedly murky polluted waters, that would be treated objectively as a democratic expression to right any possible wrong.

It is part of democracy to ensure the authenticity of the systems of democracy to arbitrate on all differences on leadership and policy issues in a just and fair ways so that the outcomes of such processes enjoys legitimacy across the spectrum.

Also, it is common cause that many who were expelled in the ANC in the past re-applied and were re-admitted, and also raising the same issue towards and during Mangaung is not inconsistent with the history and traditions of the ANC.

The late James Khambule of Mpumalanga province is one such example. Similarly, to argue in National Conference that the actions taken under the ANC NEC watch were improper and probably factionalist, that is itself in line with the provisions of the ANC Constitution to make criticism that will build the organisation and combat and negative tendency irrespective of the persons involved.

The ANC Constitution determines that the NEC is the highest decision making body between National Conferences, but the ANC National Conference is still the ultimate structure to resolve of differences on policy, leadership and any other decision that may have been taken by the NEC.

It is against this background that we will definitely raise the issue of how the National Officials and subsequently backed by the NEC have treated the ANC Youth League leadership, including of course the matter of the expulsion of its President and the suspension of the Secretary General and the Youth League Spokesperson.

We will do that vigorously without fear or favour because in that we are empowered by the ANC Constitution. ANC branches must therefore not be afraid that they are doing anything amiss when they suggest decisions to be considered by National Conference that are not necessarily liked or approved by the NEC because the National Conference is essentially the Conference of the Branch!

It is for this reason that branches can nominate leaders who are not necessarily liked by the incumbents at any level of the organisation.

By affirming the ANC branch, we are re-affirming the notion that democracy shall forever reign supreme in the ANC and in our country. Democracy is what people want, if we are to align our definition to the early propositions by the ancient Greeks.

In the US, democracy has been polluted by money. Those who have money rule in the America's as campaigning is very expensive and naturally dissuades the poor to contest elections, unlike say in Venezuela where Chavez can rise into power.

By comparison, our model and tradition is revolutionary and closer to the Venezuelan practice that allows the poor to become democratic representative even at the highest levels of Presidency.

We want leaders who will speak the language of the poor and embody their aspirations to be extricated from poverty. We do not want a leadership that will ascend to power on the basis of reinforcement by a system of patronage and capital accumulation to the exclusion of the poor majority.

Our revolution is not about creating a priviledged class. There is always the danger that the nomination process may be polluted by the new tendencies of capital accumulation and patronage. If one is an MEC, he or she would support the person who appointed him or her, that being the Premier and by extension the ultimate perceived dispenser of patronage, that being the President. This chain link is problematic to the cause of democracy.

In Mangaung we must debate the issue of deployment, because it has the potential to undermine the reasons why certain preferences are made at National Conference and also in other lower structures. We must consider moving away from the culture wherein one person, the President, has the powers to appoint and dismiss not only Ministers, but also Mayors and Premiers, and by extension the respective collectives at Mayoral Committees and Members of the Provincial Executives or MEC's in the provinces.

We must establish a governance appointment system that will ensure that democracy reigns supreme and not patronage. Experience teaches us to review certain decisions, because from it we have learnt that there is always the possibility that there could be abuse of power if all power is vested in the hands of a single individual.

In short, the President's powers must be limited to his Cabinet or Executive with regards to both appointment and dismissals. We must consider the possibility that the Premier must be a subject of the ANC Provincial Executive Committees as there are dialectical contradictions between the national leadership and provincial leadership, since provinces determine the election of the NEC. Our leadership system in government must recognise this flow of dialectical contradictions, lest the President have undue influence in the provinces through patronage, perceived or real, towards his or her election.

It is important that we attend to these dynamics even before we exercise elections in Mangaung, so that provinces must know they do not owe the President or any other person any favours. This will help ensure that a candidate is voted purely on the basis of own capabilities and appeal of leadership qualities to the delegates to National Conference and by extension to the entire organisation.

We say this because already there are views propagated in the public domain, that suggest that for instance the Premier of Limpopo may be relieved of his duties immediately after Mangaung and there has been nothing from the ANC National Office dismissing these very serious allegations or re-assuring us that this factionalist tendency will not find expression post Mangaung or any time into the future.

This scenario then sends shivers to many in the provinces and regions, persuading them to advance the cause of certain incumbents as basis to protect their own income post Mangaung and surely this is cultivating a culture of patronage.

As for the ANC Youth League, we have been advantaged by the fact that most of us have no direct interest in the outcome of National Conference hence we have historically been a reliable ally of the truth in the analysis of leadership nomination. This is why we must defend our historical autonomy, as failure to do so will give more space to wanton patronage.

It is for that reason that we bravely campaigned for former ANC Deputy President to be elected in Polokwane because we deemed that to have been in the interest of the movement. We had previously done the same when President Thabo Mbeki was elected ANC Deputy President and later ANC President. Therefore, when we say we no longer deem comrade Zuma as appropriate candidate to lead our movement, that is purely based on the evidence of track record and there is absolutely nothing personal.

Our choice of Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe to lead our movement is again based on the evidence of track record and capability. Democracy requires that we renew mandate, as opposed to monarchies, because it is a recognised fact that we could make errors in appointing certain individuals or that they could simply degenerate to become the opposite of what we thought they were.

That is the beauty of democracy hence it must always reign supreme! Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe helped inculcate the integrity of the ANC in his tenure as ANC Secretary General and the organisation grew in bounds under his watch. That is why we must now be worried that the organisation has dwindled in the past five years in many provinces such as the eastern Cape save for KwaZulu-Natal.

Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe is well known for his disciplined behaviour, which he exudes to positively influence those around him and society at large, so as to lead by example. There is no iota of doubt that during these troubled waters, we need his beyond-reproach leadership to restore the people's confidence in our movement.

Many things have happened in our country, and if we are not careful, Moeletsi Mbeki's predictions that we might lose elections to the political opposition within the next decade may become true. These are suggestions of which comrade Vavi of COSATU has also intimated on, and we better not take such warnings as anti-ANC as these individuals no doubt have interest of the people and that of our movement at heart in warning us against such pitfalls.

Our choice also of comrade Fikile Mbalula is based on nothing else but the evidence of track record. During his tenure as Secretary General of the ANC Youth League, comrade Fikile Mbalula demonstrated without doubt that he understands the essentials of leading a mass based organisation and is steeped in the traditions of our movement. He literally built the ANC Youth League so that when it spoke, society had good reason to believe that was serious matter to be implemented as it represented substantial number of our youth.

Later when he became ANC Youth League President and later yet again became President of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) for two terms, a youth wing of the Socialist International the latter that had meeting recently in Cape Town, in all those instances he demonstrated impeccable leadership qualities.

We are confident that the two comrades must become part of a leadership core that will steer us towards the goals of the National Democratic Revolution characterised by economic freedom in our lifetime!

We must elect a leadership collective that will not be seen as a faction in its own right that depends on dispensing patronage to survive, pursuing inconsistently what it purports to be disciplinary measures. Discipline must show no favour for it to be seen as legitimate and sacrosanct action.

For instance, we must debate in National Conference how come certain regions or provinces were allowed to nominate ahead of the date set by the NEC, leading to the opening of the floodgates of similar nominations, ultimately resulting in the inconsistent application of discipline in the movement as they were not even cautioned. We must abort such practices from the ANC because they will lead to divisions and ultimately the demise of our glorious movement, and that we must fight against without fear or favour!

Onwards to Mangaung, and let no fear stop any ANC member from critical analysis as in the revolution we do not need forever nodding heads!

As we do the right thing, our forebears will smile in their graves!

Meanwhile, we must express our sincere condolences to the Sisulu family, having lost one of their own, and I dare say also of our own, in Zwelakhe Sisulu. May his soul rest in peace and his contribution to our struggle will forever be indelibly engraved in our hearts and minds!

Amandla!!

Ronald Lamola
Deputy President: ANCYL

 
POLITICAL REFLECTIONS: *Thabo Mbeki

Thabo Mbeki

Tell no lies, claim no easy victories!

"I am certain that the delegates will understand why I have said Conference must pose certain pointed questions to itself. As we all know, the reason is that during the years since our liberation in 1994, certain negative and completely unacceptable tendencies have emerged within our movement, which threaten the very survival of the ANC as the trusted servant of the people..."

None of the tasks we have set ourselves can be achieved unless the ANC remains strong and united, determined to maintain its character as a servant of the people. These tasks include an appropriate response to the all-important challenge posed by our 2nd National General Council that we must use the new phase of the National Democratic Revolution to "overcome the challenge of persisting under-development, of a deeply polarised society and economy", as the NGC said.

Correctly, the NGC emphasised that the central strategic task of our movement during the current phase of the National Democratic Revolution is to eradicate the deeply entrenched legacy of centuries of colonialism and apartheid, which continues to condemn millions of our people to poverty and underdevelopment and the perpetuation of the racial and gender inequalities that still characterise our society.

The 52nd National Conference will have to ask itself a very direct question and answer this question honestly and frankly - is the ANC capable of discharging its responsibilities to the masses of our people, the peoples of Africa and the rest of the world during this critical phase of our National Democratic Revolution!

The 52nd National Conference will have to ask itself a very direct question and answer this question honestly and frankly - will our movement increase its popular support during the 2009 General Elections, as we increased our support in each General Election since our first democratic elections in 1994!

Again, the 52nd National Conference will have to ask itself a very direct question and answer this question honestly and frankly - does the ANC have the will and capacity to lead our country and people over the next five years in a manner that will enable the nation to celebrate our Centenary in 2012 together, paying heartfelt tribute to our movement:

  • for what it has and would have done to sacrifice everything for our liberation; and,
  • using that freedom to lead the national offensive to accelerate the advance towards the creation of a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it!

I have the greatest confidence in this Conference and all the delegates that this is the right place and moment to place before our movement the serious challenge I have posed, confident that the delegates have the will and the capacity honestly and frankly to answer the questions I have listed.

I am certain that the delegates will understand why I have said Conference must pose certain pointed questions to itself. As we all know, the reason is that during the years since our liberation in 1994, certain negative and completely unacceptable tendencies have emerged within our movement, which threaten the very survival of the ANC as the trusted servant of the people it has been for 96 years.

The Organisational Report of our Secretary General will indicate some of these negative and unacceptable tendencies, which stand in direct opposition to everything the ANC represents, including:

  • its value system;
  • its revolutionary morality;
  • its selflessness;
  • the comradeship among its members;
  • its deep-seated respect for the truth and honesty;
  • its determined opposition to deceit and double-dealing; and,
  • its readiness openly to account to the masses of our people for everything it says and does.

The Constitution of the ANC says "the President is the head and chief directing officer of the ANC", who "shall make pronouncements for and on behalf of the NEC, outlining and explaining the policy and attitude of the ANC on any question."

Exactly the very same words feature in successive Constitutions of our movement, including, for instance, the 1958, 1991 and 1994 Constitutions, all of which were, like our current Constitution, adopted at our National Conferences.

I refer to these Constitutional imperatives, which have a binding effect on the President of the ANC, to explain to the delegates that as President of the ANC, I have an obligation openly to convey the President`s views to National Conference, especially on matters that are of vital importance to the defence of the character and historic tasks of our movement, and its reputation and esteem in the hearts and minds of the masses of our people.

Yet another reality from which many of us cannot free ourselves is that the African National Congress is the one and only object of true value that we own. This includes the delegates who are present in this place of assembly, as well as countless others who are not here, many of whom have never even carried an ANC membership card.

If we have any ambition of real worth and meaning, it is that our country and people should always remember us as having been exemplary members of the African National Congress.

Directly to confront the virus at the core of the disease that has produced and is producing this repulsive outcome, I would like to cite a vitally important observation our Secretary General made in his Organisational Report to our 51st National Conference, five years ago.

He said: "We have also reported to the NGC (held in 2000), on the challenges being in power has on the structures of the movement. We found that the issues dividing the leadership of some of our provinces are not of a political nature, but have mainly revolved around access to resources, positioning themselves or others to access resources, dispensing patronage and in the process using organisational structures to further these goals.

"This often lies at the heart of conflicts between (ANC) constitutional and governance structures, especially at local level and is reflected in contestations around lists, deployment and the internal elections process of the movement. These practices tarnish the image and effectiveness of the movement.

"The limited political consciousness (among some of our members) has impacted negatively on our capacity to root out corrupt and divisive elements among ourselves. For the movement to renew itself as a revolutionary movement, we have to develop specific political, organisational and administrative measures to deal with such destructive elements."

Nelson Mandela also drew our attention to this challenge when he opened our 50th National Conference in 1997. Among other things he said: "One of these negative features is the emergence of careerism within our ranks. Many among our members see their membership of the ANC as a means to advance their personal ambitions to attain positions of power and access to resources for their own individual gratification.

"Accordingly, they work to manipulate the movement to create the conditions for their success.

During the last three years, this has created such problems as division within the movement, conflicts based on differences among individuals, the encouragement of rank indiscipline leading to the undermining of our organisational integrity, conflict within communities and the demoralization of some of the best cadres of our organisation.

"Inevitably, this has also created the possibility for the opponents of our movement and our revolutionary perspectives to intensify their own offensive to promote their objectives which are opposed to our goal of creating a better life for all.

"In reality, during the last three years, we have found it difficult to deal with such careerists in a decisive manner. We, ourselves, have therefore allowed the space to emerge for these opportunists to pursue their counter-revolutionary goals, to the detriment of our movement and struggle."

As the delegates know, the document "Through the eye of a needle" also addresses some of the issues raised by the Secretary General. It says:

"Because leadership in structures of the ANC affords opportunities to assume positions of authority in government, some individuals then compete for ANC leadership positions in order to get into government. Many such members view positions in government as a source of material riches for themselves. Thus resources, prestige and authority of government positions become the driving force in competition for leadership positions in the ANC.

"Government positions also go hand-in-hand with the possibility to issue contracts to commercial companies. Some of these companies identify ANC members that they can promote in ANC structures and into government, so that they can get contracts by hook or by crook. This is done through media networks to discredit other leaders, or even by buying membership cards to set up branches that are ANC only in name.

"Positions in government also mean the possibility to appoint individuals in all kinds of capacities. As such, some members make promises to friends, that once elected and ensconced in government, they would return the favour. Cliques and factions then emerge within the movement, around personal loyalties driven by corrupt intentions. Members become voting fodder to serve individuals` self-interest."

As a consequence of the disease to which our Secretary General drew our attention, all of us, cadres of our movement and the ANC itself, have been exposed to the shame and humiliation of people who are our members, who come to meetings of our structures carrying weapons, with the intention to terrorise members of the ANC to bow to their will.

We have been exposed to the pernicious practice of people buying others membership cards of the ANC to guarantee themselves a captive group of voting cattle, whose members had and have absolutely no desire to join the ANC.

All of us are aware of the poisonous phenomenon foreign to our movement, which many of us have characterised as the ownership of some members by other members. These are people who, while holding ANC membership cards, do not belong to the ANC but belong to those who paid their subscriptions.

This includes unqualified people who get appointed to such positions as Municipal Managers, placemen and women who serve as the pliable tools of their political masters, and who are used to advance the commercial and political interests of their handlers and patrons.

We are aware of members of the ANC whom our Secretary General characterised as destructive elements which tarnish the image and effectiveness of our movement. These are people who abuse their positions in government consciously, purposefully and systematically to engage in corrupt practices aimed at self-enrichment.

These engage in criminal and amoral activities driven by the hunger for personal gain, acquired at the expense of the poor of our country, who constitute the millions-strong constituency which regularly votes for the ANC, and which we proudly claim to represent.

We have been horrified to hear reports of ANC members who occupy positions in government, who have murdered one another as they competed about who would emerge as the victor in the process of awarding government tenders to private sector companies in return for financial and material kickbacks paid by the winning bidders.

All of us, delegates to the 52nd National Conference of the ANC, are perfectly conscious of the ferocious and unprincipled battles that took place last year as our structures selected our candidate local government councillors for the 2006 municipal elections.

All of know this very well that this was driven by the objective to remove sitting councillors on the basis that these had to move way to give other people, card-carrying members of the ANC, an opportunity also to serve as councillors, and thus to gain an opportunity for self-enrichment.

We know this too, that some of those who lost in this immoral battle promptly resurfaced as members of formations of the broad democratic movement, or as leaders of groups of so-called "concerned citizens" to organise and lead public demonstrations intended to discredit members of our movement who had been legitimately nominated by our structures and elected democratically to serve in our system of governance for the prescribed periods.

What I have said, to give flesh to what our Secretary General said in 2002, might suggest, wrongly, that the destructive disease his comments sought to address relates mainly or only to the sphere of local government.

The fact of the matter, whether this is correct or false, is that members of the ANC and others among our citizens, have informed me that even the unprecedented fight for positions in the leadership that will be elected at this National Conference is informed by exactly the same imperatives identified by our Secretary General.

The allegation that has been made is that at least some of the contending groups in this regard have acted as they have, with an eye to who would serve in positions of authority in our system of governance after the 2009 General Elections.

In the paragraphs I have quoted the Secretary General pointed correctly to the impact that low levels of political education among some of our members has on our capacity to fight corruption in our ranks, as well as other negative tendencies.

Repeatedly over the years, our leadership has drawn attention to the critical importance of political education and cadre development. Again the Secretary General will reflect on this matter. The reality is that we have not attended to this matter with the seriousness and consistency it demands. As a result of this failure we must therefore expect that we will have members who, among other things, will have very little familiarity with the history and traditions of the ANC, its policies, its value system and its organisational practices.

One other negative consequence of this, in addition to what the Secretary General said, is that this makes it easy for people with bad intentions to mislead such members. Over the years we have seen the persistent propagation of outright falsehoods intended to discredit our leadership.

These have included entirely false claims about a shift of the policy making function from the constitutional structures of the movement to government, intolerance of different views and therefore the suppression of open discussion especially in the NEC, centralisation of power in the Government Presidency, and abuse of state power, thus further reducing the capacity of our movement to play its proper role as our country`s ruling party.

All these are complete fabrications. However, it is easy for members who, as I have said, have scant familiarity with the policies and procedures of the ANC. This is particularly so if those who spread these falsehoods are people whose word our members would have no reason to doubt.

In this regard I must mention yet another challenge that has assumed a higher profile during the years since our last National Conference. This is the practice that again is entirely foreign to our movement - the practice of using untruths, of resort to dishonest means and deceit to achieve particular goals.

Throughout the most difficult years of our struggle, our movement always refused to resort to these means to hide our reverses and difficulties and present a more optimistic picture than the circumstances justified. It was for this reason that what the late Amilcar Cabral once said gained great popularity in our ranks - tell no lies: claim no easy victories!

We must add to all this that during the period since our 51st National Conference initiatives by people who are obviously hostile to our movement who have sought to divide the leadership and weaken our movement. Specifically, I refer here to two instances.

One of these was the production and circulation of fake e-mails intended to create the impression that our leadership was divided into factions which were busy plotting against one another to advance their personal interests.

As the Conference is aware, our National Executive Committee denounced these e-mails as outright forgeries. This conclusion was confirmed by the independent Task Team that was appointed by the National Working Committee, at the request of the NEC, to investigate the whole issue of the e-mails.

More recently, we have also had to deal with what has come to be known as the "browse" document. Once again it was confirmed that this document was produced with the specific intention to divide and weaken our movement.

I mention these two instances, the e-mails and the "browse" document both to draw the attention of Conference to the fact that the forces that opposed our movement in the past have not abandoned their objective to defeat us and to emphasise the importance of empowering our members with the necessary political maturity to enable them to see through such manoeuvres as the production of the e-mails and the "browse" document.

More broadly, our experience has shown that the more our National Democratic Revolution advances, the more complex the issues we have to solve. The phenomenon exemplified by the e-mail and "browse" documents incidents also strongly suggests that the greater the progress we make, the harder will our opponents try to secure our defeat.

One of our continuing and important tasks is further to strive to promote the campaign for moral regeneration, based on doing everything we can to develop a value system in our country inspired by the concepts that are integral to the ubuntu/botho world outlook. This is central to our pursuit of the objective of building a caring and people-centred society.

What this emphasises is the need for our movement to distinguish itself by its exemplary behaviour, setting an unquestionable example of what Nelson Mandela meant when he spoke about the RDP of the soul!

Yet another important challenge that faces us is the need for us continuously to engage the political and ideological struggle in defence of the strategy and policies of our movement. The battle of ideas rages in our country on a daily basis in many instances focused on the objective to change the policy positions we have adopted and move our country in directions to which we are opposed. Much of this daily barrage comes from people who represent the neo-liberal perspectives.

Another ideological challenge has arisen from within the ranks of the revolutionary movement. I refer here to the proposition that has been advanced that the National Democratic Revolution should now be replaced by the Socialist Revolution. This is an important issue, especially since it originates from within the ranks of our broad movement, and will undoubtedly arise as we discuss the Draft Strategy and Tactics document.

In this regard I am certain that I speak for all the delegates when I say that none of us can be happy with the manner in which relations within the Alliance have evolved in the last five years. Our movement will have to continue addressing this issue, especially given the fact we also have the historic responsibility to lead the Alliance.

Our movement remains firmly convinced of the need for us to sustain the alliance between the ANC, the SACP and COSATU because of the shared strategic interest in the victory of the National Democratic Revolution. We remain convinced that the objective situation in our country still demands the united action of the broad masses of our people, led by the ANC, the democratic trade union movement, led by COSATU, and the class conscious proletariat, led by the SACP. This is the historic basis for the birth of the Alliance many decades ago. It remains highly relevant and necessary even today.

The delegates will also be aware of the fact of the increasing role that our country has been playing to honour our pledge to extend our solidarity to the sister peoples of our Continent. In this regard, in many instances responding to regional and continental requests, we have been and will continue to be involved in the search for solutions to some of the most complex and challenging problems on our continent.

Accordingly, we have been and are engaged in processes aimed to address problems confronting challenges in such countries as the DRC, Burundi, Côte d`Ivoire, Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Comoros, working with the leaders of these countries. Needless to say not everybody in the world, and in our country, has been happy with the interventions we have made. These have therefore opposed us.

However, reflecting the most fundamental positions of our movement, we have insisted on the right of the peoples of Africa, including ourselves, to determine our own destiny without any dictation from anybody. Again not everybody agrees with us on this matter, driven by the pursuit of what they perceive as their national interest.

All the challenges I have mentioned, including the matter raised by the 2nd NGC of the need and possibility to accelerate the process of socio-economic transformation, once again emphasise the need for us decisively to strengthen the ANC. As our experience during the last five years has shown, this is not just a matter of numbers. Critically it is a matter of the quality of our membership.

Without such a membership, which is steeped in the policies, the value system and the traditions of the ANC, our movement will fail in its effort both to respond to the challenges we have mentioned as well as act in an effective manner to advance the National Democratic Revolution, in the interests of the masses of our people.

By the time we close this National Conference we must have discussed this matter and taken decisions that will be implemented, literally to save both the ANC and our revolution. I am certain that all those of us who have followed the evolution of the political situation in our country and movement over the last five years will have no hesitation in agreeing that the single and most strategic task we face is to strengthen the ANC both quantitatively and qualitatively to the point of understanding and accepting the proposition - better fewer, but better!

In this regard I must also make the point that Conference should examine very carefully the assertion that has been made insistently for some time, that our movement is divided. We must ask the question and discuss it frankly - if we are divided, what divides us! If we are divided, what should we do to address this challenge, given the naked truth that a divided ANC can never discharge its historic responsibilities to the masses of our people!

All of us make the statement genuinely that we will emerge from this National Conference more united than ever before. We must ensure that this is not an empty slogan. We cannot afford to make merely rhetorical statements about the issue of our principled unity, with the purpose only to comfort our troubled hearts and minds. Conference must therefore confront this issue frontally, so that we do indeed emerge from this 52nd National Conference more united than ever before.

I believe that the various matters I have raised, relating to the serious political challenges facing our movement and revolution deserve the most serious attention of this important Conference. Undoubtedly, other and related matters will feature in the Report of the Secretary General.

I would like formally to propose to the delegates that this National Conference should give itself time to discuss these matters that are of central importance to the very nature and survival of our movement as truly a people`s movement.

Fortunately, the entirety of our leadership at various levels is present in this hall. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of our branches also have their representatives in this same hall.

These representatives now have the possibility to ask our leadership, including the President, any and all questions they may seek to pose, which would clarify any and all issues that have troubled them during the last five years, affecting the functioning of our movement.

They have the possibility openly to contest any and all the assertions I have made, as I sought to identify some of the problems that have confronted our movement in the last five years.

Given the importance of this Conference and the tasks ahead of us, and given that this is our highest decision-making body, it seems obvious to me that Conference must take the necessary steps to establish what the truth is about the many matters that have suggested that our movement is divided, and that especially the national leadership we elected in Stellenbosch in 2002 rather than implement the decisions we took then, has been involved destructive struggles among themselves, which have threatened the very survival of our movement.

If I may, I would like to reiterate the suggestion I have made - I formally propose to the delegates that this National Conference should give itself time to discuss these matters that are of central importance to the very nature and survival of our movement as truly a people`s movement.

Needless to say, one of the most difficult and painful challenges we have faced over the last five years have arisen around out of matters affecting our Deputy President. Part of the difficulty we faced in this regard, which has resulted in many of our members criticising the NEC for failing to provide leadership, was that here we were dealing with an unprecedented situation, and therefore had no body of experience that would help our leadership and movement to deal with this situation adequately. All of us hope that we will and can put these matters behind us sooner rather than later.

Despite everything I have said, we are all aware of the fact that the masses of our people, especially the poor, have the greatest confidence in our movement. In the period since the 51st National Conference, two elections have taken place in our country.

In both of these, the 2004 General Elections and the 2006 Local Government Elections, our people demonstrated once more that they continue to place their hopes in the ANC to lead our country to achieve the objective of a better life for all, again especially the poor.

This constitutes a heavy and sacred responsibility we cannot betray. All of us as genuine members of the African National Congress must make this solemn pledge and honour it in word and deed. It is our conduct and practical deeds as true agents of progressive change, and not what we say that identifies us as true revolutionaries, loyal servants of the masses of our people.

As I have said and as the National Conference knows, we are only five years away from celebrating the Centenary of our movement. This will be a moment of immense pride and great inspiration not only to our members and people, but also to the peoples of Africa, all black people everywhere, and all those in the world who are striving and dream of their all-round emancipation.

And therefore I pose the question once again - does the ANC have the will and capacity to lead our country and people over the next five years in a manner that will enable the nation to celebrate our Centenary in 2012 together, paying heartfelt tribute to our movement:

  • for what it has and would have done to sacrifice everything for our liberation; and,
  • using that freedom to lead the national offensive to accelerate the advance towards the creation of a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it!

This 52nd National Conference of our movement must answer this question through all the decisions it will take. All of us must continue to march together as true comrades, to implement the decisions we will take at this last Ordinary National Conference before we celebrate on January 8th, 2012, the Centenary of this great movement of the people, the African National Congress.

On that day, we must be able to stand together as a united movement for revolutionary change, confident that the heroes and heroines who perished for our liberation and placed in our hands this irreplaceable repository of the hopes and aspirations of the masses of our people, the African National Congress.

While we live and have even an ounce of strength in our bones, all of us, genuine and loyal members of the African National Congress, must act in a manner that truly confirms that the ANC lives: the ANC leads!

Amandla! Matla! Matimba

*President Thabo Mbeki is the former President of the African National Congress and also former President of the Republic of South Africa. Amongst his passionate work has been the reconstruction of Africa through spearheading the African Renaissance and other international works such as the negotiations leading to the formation of South Sudan and the agreements of cooperation recently adopted under his watch. This is an excerpt from his Opening Political Report to the ANC 52nd National Conference in Polokwane whose message remains relevant today.

VIEWPOINT: *Thando Ntlemeza

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On Leaders, sins of incumbency and leadership beyond Mangaung!

"While patriotic leaders would not want to use organizational and government offices to further their personal ambitions, certain incumbent leaders deviate from this noble principle. They act in a manner which causes tensions and divisions among members of the organization and within the government; something which compromises the ability of the ANC and government to address the political and socio-economic challenges facing the country and its citizens."

Various scholars on leaders and leadership have made invaluable contributions on the subject. In particular, they developed models on leaders for the organizations and society. Even organizations framed attributes required for their members to become fit and proper to provide proper leadership to the organizations and society. Hence; discussion herein is necessarily confined to the leadership-related challenges in the ANC and the leadership necessary at this juncture.

Leaders of organizations, especially dominant movements in society, are supposed to embody unity of the members and citizens. Hence, the process of choosing leaders of these organizations should be geared towards constituting leadership collectives behind whom members and citizens alike can unite. In other words, these collectives should be filled with women and men who will act as role models to ANC members and non-members alike. Some decide not to support and choose leaders who are above reproach in their political and social conduct. In fact, they deliberately impose inappropriate leaders because they stand to benefit if such leaders are at the helm of the organizations or institutions of the state. In choosing people who are not appropriate to lead, they even use clandestine and dubious methods which include abuse of positions of authority in the organizations and government to ensure that inappropriate people are chosen to lead; thereby compromising credibility of the organizations themselves and institutions of governance.

Incumbent leaders become obvious targets of those advocating for leadership change, especially when incumbents failed to take the organization and the country forward – whether out of exhaustion, incapability to lead or lack of ideas. However, calls for leadership change do not always emanate from failures on the part of the incumbent leaders, but may also be activated by ambitions of those who feel that it is their turn to lead the organization and government.

Under normal circumstances, patriotic leaders who fail in positions of authority would voluntarily vacate offices in the interest of the organization and the country. Despite this, most of those:

…who fail in positions of authority can use all kinds of excuses to cling to power, when the time for change has come.

In many instances, those who fail in positions of authority cling to power despite their failures merely because of self-interest, which takes various forms whereas leadership of a party for fundamental change in society is not supposed to be about self-interest. For instance, certain people, sometimes, defend leaders who have failed the organization and society because having such leaders at the helm would serve their subjective interests. In this regard, we should always remind people that the ANC: 

… was established … to serve interests of the suffering masses of our people …[and] was not formed to be, and has never been an instrument to advance the personal interests of its members, regardless of the positions within the organisation that any of its members might occupy.

This means that ours exists for no other reason than to serve the masses. Unless those wishing to be considered for positions of leadership in the organization [or government for that matter] can demonstrate their commitment to realizing this mission, justifying their case would be difficult as members of the organization and citizens would view them as merely hell-bent on attaining power to advance interests which have nothing to do with interests of the masses.  

Leaders who want to retain political power are often accused of being often preoccupied with their ambition and determination to retain political power. In other words, their actions or inactions are perceived to be informed by cost-benefit calculations related to their retention of political power; hence their offices of authority in the organization and government are also believed to be used in the process.

While patriotic leaders would not want to use organizational and government offices to further their personal ambitions, certain incumbent leaders deviate from this noble principle. They act in a manner which causes tensions and divisions among members of the organization and within the government; something which compromises the ability of the ANC and government to address the political and socio-economic challenges facing the country and its citizens.

Some within and beyond the movement accuse the incumbent leaders of defending some of their potential supporters who bring the movement into disrepute, while they are very harsh to those who are destined to thwart their ambitions. Once these perceptions permeate the movement and spread in society, incumbent leaders may become exposed to resistance of unprecedented proportion during their term of leadership.

However, when it comes to eligibility for election into positions of leadership and authority, the test for everybody, including incumbent leaders, is always whether a person passes ‘through the eye of the needle’. Properly understood, the needle is inelastic. However, some members ignore the needle when they want to choose inappropriate people to lead, given the challenges of the time.

Through the Eye of the Needle document provides guidelines for choosing best cadres to lead implementation of the vision and programme of the ANC. It guides identification of appropriate leaders and management of individual ambition, lobbying, promotion of friends and cronies, pursuit of selfish interests or use of the organization for self-enrichment. Among other things, this document states that leaders should be above reproach in political and social conduct and “should act as role models to the ANC members and non-members alike”.

If the guidelines enunciated in Through the Eye of the Needle document are correctly applied or followed when we choose leaders, it should not be difficult to choose appropriate leadership for the ANC and society. Appropriate leadership cannot be a matter of those we love or associate with easily for whatever reason. Relationship between members and leaders of a revolutionary organization cannot be reduced into a love and hate affair. It must be the desire, determination and commitment to resolve contradictions in society which must guide identification of leaders required at the current juncture.

Through the Eye of the Needle document which must always guide the movement in electing and deploying members of the movement into positions of responsibility and authority within the movement and in government states that:

Those in leadership positions should unite and guide the movement to be at the head of the process of change. They should lead the movement in its mission to organize and inspire the masses to be their own liberators…

Unifying members of the organization, and organizing and inspiring the majority of the people should be an ongoing task that must remain a focus area for leaders and members alike, as the ANC must be a microcosm of a united society envisaged in the Freedom Charter. Therefore, women and men who should be elected into positions of leadership must be members who will lead the organization and society in a manner, which does not divide members of the organization and people of South Africa. In other words, leaders required at this juncture are those who will unite the movement into a vehicle that will be able to carryout its historical task of mobilizing and uniting all the people of South Africa behind the programme of building a nonracial, nonsexist, united, democratic and prosperous society.

An organization pursuing unity of its members and society cannot afford to have leaders who recruit, mobilize or organize people using divisive tools such as race, ethnicity, tribalism and regionalism. Neither must it encourage mobilization of people behind individuals instead of the organization as the support of such people to the organization may not be sustainable going forward. However, this does not mean that there are no iconic individuals in society who embody virtuous values behind whom all members and the society can be mobilized.

After Mangaung Conference, South Africa will need leaders who do not prioritize those close to them as leaders who channel strategic resources of the country to their own families and friends are not worthy of being leaders of the ANC which defines itself as a representative of all the people. Leaders for the period after Mangaung must be women and men who are committed to ensuring that country’s resources are distributed and redistributed in a manner which benefits all the people. The ANC needs leaders with integrity and honesty, who can win trust and confidence of the people as Saleem Badat states that:

…at the heart of leadership is integrity and honesty.
Without integrity there can be no principled conduct, no prospect of winning trust and inspiring and uniting people around a vision…

To win trust and confidence of the majority of the people, leaders must have personal and political integrity for the movement to have credibility in society. Expected after Mangaung are leaders who will ensure that they are not influenced by the forces whose interests have nothing to do with addressing plight of the suffering masses; failing which the masses will view them with suspicion. Once this happens, decisions and actions of the leaders will be questioned and even ignored; something that may not only undermine unity and cohesion of the ANC and society, but may also undermine the very principle of leadership.

Required beyond Mangaung Conference are“…individuals with the understanding and the ability to unify and guide the movement in the face of new problems.” We cannot afford to have leaders like those described by Frantz Fanon as -

… incapable of urging on the people to a concrete task, unable really to open the future to them or of flinging them into the path of national reconstruction…

Since our country faces an uncertain future with negative spillovers from global and Eurozone financial crisis, it needs what William Gumede refers to as intellectual leaders who are able to deal with these and other challenges presented by the emerging economic situation in the country and beyond. Only this kind of leadership will win confidence of the people and appeal to all sectors of society. However, Micheal Velli states that unless the leading movement in society manages to elevate the political consciousness of its members and supporters as well as general citizenry it might face the danger of the withering away of the support base when the moral basis of the struggle society is undermined. Members and citizens should be conscientized of the contradictions in society and the necessity for them to join the struggle to resolve these contradictions. However, to succeed on this our methods of wok and forms of action should be adjusted and adapted with a view to capture imagination of the majority of the citizens. This must include connecting immediate local issues of the people with major political issues for the people to have something worth fighting for.

While the material aspect of the struggle remains critically important, Micheal Velli cautions that:

Strategy can longer be based on material demands alone. Rather, it must be based on a more encompassing projection of the social and economic alternatives to the status quo.

In addressing immediate material needs of the masses of South African people, those tasked with leadership of the movement and society are supposed to ensure that discourse on transformation of society is not circumvented and thrown into the dustbins of history as circumventing transformation discourse will be tantamount to selling out a revolutionary cause for which the liberation struggle has been fought for many decades.

*Thando Ntlemeza is a member of the ANC and ANCYL in the Western Cape.

VIEWPOINT: *Sandile Fuku

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ANCYL must reject reformist tendencies!

"Towards Mangaung, the ANCYL should stand firm and reject the stand point of the proponents of reform tendency. It is important that we do not let ourselves to be taken in by the old catch-phrase that in unity there is strength."

In Umrabulo volume 13, Michael Sachs shares with us the battle of ideas in the African National Congress (ANC). He begins by quoting the inaugural address as ANC President in 1927, Josiah Tshangana Gumede when he said, "I know there are two wings to the Bantu movement of political and economic emancipation... the conservative and the radical". Indeed, the dialectical relationship between different tendencies in the ANC has contributed to its longevity.

Historical accounts of the at the ANC's Annual Conference in 1930 are to effect that Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme was nominated for the position of President of the ANC by the conservative wing of the organisation, and was duly elected. Effectively, replacing the radical Josiah Gumede. So, began the most divided, disorganised and insular period in our proud history, Michael Sachs Says.

Even today, the contradicting tendencies i.e. reforms versus change continue to be at play. I evoke this part of the history of the ANC, because it remains instructive today. Particularly about the expression of a force that does not work out univocally, but rather contradictory "Tendency".

The point I am trying to bring home is that - it is difficult to hold a different point of view, based on principle without being perceived as being on the offensive. There are challenges amongst the revolutionary forces for change. There is a fundamental tension between the professed vocation of the tripartite alliance - a working class biased society - and the manner in which the ANC government is pursuing that objective.

Take for example the introduction of user fee policy in Gauteng and Western Cape roads. In whose interest is the e-tolling system? We can all agree that the working class and the poor will be the hardest hit by the user fee policy. The ANC in government is adamant on guaranteeing space of labour brokers by maintaining Section 198 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) in its current form. This happens despite the call to repeal this section by South African Communist Party, Cosatu and ANCYL.

Though progressive, the current form of the LRA demonstrates that its character is an outgrowth of the conditions of capitalist production. Appreciating that we are firm in dealing with our own domestic capital, as evidenced by decision of the ANC to nationalise mining rights.

The extent to which the mining charter can deliver fundamental change is compromised. That is due to lack of articulation of the content of our political economy today. Without elaboration, proponents of the reformist tendency in the ANC continue to say -nationalisation of mines is not a policy of the ANC. This seesaw in fundamental questions of policy has led some to believe that the authority of the ANC is being called in question. As a result, the ANC has treated with suspicion if not indifference the many voices of revolts that we have come to witness in the past few months e.g. the current mining strikes.

This is despite the anti-capitalist character of such revolts that resides in the reality that they are revolts against actually existing capitalist development, which the working class finds intolerable. The African majority stagnates deplorably in unbearable poverty, while the president of the republic (Cde Jacob Zuma) and Minister of Mineral Resources (Cde Susan Shabangu) guarantee the foreign investors of stability.

Stability should not be seen as counter-posed to transformation. If genuine transformation is to take place, not from above but from and with the people, it has to proceed in a pace and rhythm that is not very far from them (Langa Zitha, 2002).

Towards Mangaung the ANCYL should stand firm and reject the standpoint of the proponents of reform tendency. It is important that we do not let ourselves to be taken in by the old catch phrase that in unity there is strength.

Yes indeed there is strength in unity, but in a unity of firm, inner conviction, not of an external, mechanistic coupling of elements which are inwardly gravitating away from each other (Rosa Luxemberg, 1916).

*Sandile Fuku is a Former Branch Secretary of the ANCYL at the University of the Free State branch, and is currently an ANCYL Member in ward 19, Bloemfontein, Free State

EDITORIAL

Economic Freedom Fighters, Unite!

Hlomelang is published every Friday. Comrades can send opinion articles to the editorial team by Tuesday every week for publication the same week on Friday. Articles published do not represent the official viewpoint of the ANCYL but are important as part of the conversation that must thrive amongst ourselves in order to share the various perspectives that abound within our movement and further give meaning to our democratic character.

Views expressed must be within the confines of the ANC and ANCYL policy and constitutional parameters. However, that does not mean perspectives expressed cannot argue for changes of such constitutional and policy parameters as part of public conversation on all social, economic and political matters affecting the ANC, the ANCYL, our country, the SADC region, the continent and the entire world.

Emails must be addressed to the ANCYL Head of Communications at ksangoni@anc.org.za