Political Overview delivered by ANC EC Chairperson at the Ordinary PEC meeting

Chairperson of the Session,

NEC members present,

Members of the PEC.

Introduction

The 8th Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape has gathered for the first time in 2018 and for the first time since the historic 54th National Conference.

As the highest organ of the ANC in the Province in between Conferences, we have a responsibility and duty to provide leadership not only to the organisation, but the people of the Eastern Cape in general.

We must continue on the good work displayed during the preparations for the ANC 106th January 8th Celebration that was hosted in the Province. The anniversary rally was a resounding success, a sentiment which was also asserted by the NEC in its meeting preceding the NEC Lekgotla which had applauded the excellent mobilisation for the ANC’s106th anniversary celebrations and further noted how the January 8th Statement itself had generated a great deal of excitement, hope and enthusiasm among our people. We started on time, in line with our plans, and we must congratulate ourselves on that as well.

2018 is the year where we celebrate 100 years of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu , the year of ‘Renewal, Unity, and Jobs’. We have an obligation to meaningfully translate this theme into concrete action that will improve the quality of the lives of the people living in the Eastern Cape. Our popular slogan “zizojikizinto” must begin with us, by us recommitting ourselves to the vision, aims, and objectives of the ANC. We must remind ourselves that we have joined this organisation voluntarily without expectation of material gain, and that we place our energies and skills at the disposal of the organisation. It is when we do this that we will truly honour the memory of President Nelson Mandela, who dedicated his entire life to the struggle for liberation in South Africa.

In our welcoming remarks to the ANC January 8th Anniversary Rally we said “we must Renew the ANC as leader of society, rebuild it as mass organ and place it firmly in the hands of the people as a tool for self-liberation”. This is what zizojika izinto must translate to, a renewed African National Congress that is rooted amongst the people.

In renewing the ANC we must heed the wise counsel of Fanon when he said “the party ought to be organized in such fashion that it is not simply content with having contacts with the masses. The party should be the direct expression of the masses. The party is not an administration responsible for transmitting government orders; it is the energetic spokesman and the incorruptible defender of the masses” There is no better definition of what being a leader of society means “An “energetic spokesman and the incorruptible defender of the masses”, that is what the ANC should be.

The NEC January 8th Statement further said “ At the centre of all our efforts this year must be the fundamental renewal and revitalization of the African National Congress”, In this regard the NEC January 8th Statement identified the following as the ANC priority tasks for the 2018:

We shall undertake a deliberate programme of organizational renewal that decisively addresses problems of division and dysfunction within the organization. This will include concrete steps to empower members of the ANC to determine the direction of the movement and to decide – free from manipulation and coercion – on who should lead the movement. They need to guide its policies, priorities and programmes informed by the needs and concerns of the communities in which they are located. We shall therefore work to get rid of the gate-keeping, vote buying and undue interference that strips ANC members of their rights, responsibilities and influence. We will build a membership system that is transparent, efficient and credible.

We shall work to restore the integrity and credibility of the ANC. We need cadres who are committed to serve no other interest than the interests of the people, who seek no advantage for themselves or their families from the positions they occupy, and who safeguard public resources. We shall strengthen the Integrity Commission to deal with matters of ethics in the organisation and finalize its standing and the status of its decisions by June this year.

We shall undertake measures to bring the ANC closer to the people, building our branches as vibrant, dynamic units that take up the most pressing social and economic challenges in our communities. Our branches need to attract the most active, brightest, most upstanding, and most committed members of our communities – young and old, women and men, black and white – and thus become examples of the best citizens that our society offers.

The ANC will work with renewed determination to unite all South Africans – regardless of race, class or affiliation – around a shared vision of fundamental transformation. We need to restore the unity of purpose and sense of common destiny that was forged under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

We shall mobilise all social partners, in particular government, labour and business, behind an economic recovery plan. The urgency of this task is underlined by low levels of growth and job creation, constrained public finances, ratings downgrades and corruption which undermine efforts to tackle poverty and inequality. It is only through working together, in pursuit of a common objective underpinned by mutual respect and trust, that we shall be able to turn the economy around.

We shall confront corruption and state capture in all the forms and manifestations that these scourges assume. This includes the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture. The investigation and prosecution of those responsible will be given top priority. Mechanisms for the appointment of individuals to senior government positions, state owned entities and law enforcement agencies will be strengthened to improve transparency, prevent undue influence and ensure adequate vetting of candidates.

We must work to restore the credibility of public institutions, including state owned enterprises and law enforcement agencies, by addressing excessive turnover in senior positions, undue political interference, poor coordination and corruption.

As part of the work needed to improve access to relevant quality education, we must urgently develop and implement an affordable and sustainable funding model to ensure that poor, working class and ‘middle class’ students progressively receive free higher education. We must do this not only to promote social justice and redress the inequities of the past, but to ensure that we produce capable graduates on a scale that feeds economic growth and social development.

We shall implement a comprehensive approach to land reform and agricultural development that utilises a range of mechanisms to accelerate the redistribution of land to black South Africans and to provide the necessary support to ensure that this is accompanied by an increase in agricultural production and food security. The NEC will develop proposals with regard to expropriation of land without compensation as part of the mechanisms available to government.

These are the central tasks that must occupy all ANC structures, leaders, cadres and members during the course of 2018. As we work to implement all the resolutions of the ANC 54thNational Conference, we are resolute in our commitment to make this the year in which we rebuild our movement and turn around the South African economy.

Our 8th Provincial Conference gave us a clear mandate to work vigorously towards turning the ANC in the province into a powerful tool of transformation in the hands of our people. We must therefore as this PEC internalise these tasks and work tirelessly and commit our ourselves to this enormous task ahead.

International Balance of forces

The PEC meets at time where there are a number of political developments throughout the world. Just last week, global leaders had met at the World Economic Forum in Davos under the theme: “Creating a shared future in a fractured world”. We must commend the South African delegation led by the ANC President, comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, which did a great job in assuring partner governments, finance institutions, and investors that Africa is politically stable and that there are a number of investment opportunities both in the country and the continent.

South Africa and the ANC must work to rebuild and enhance our standing in the global arena, which had been undermined by own weaknesses, poor performance, and conduct. We must employ our efforts on the task of building and maintaining political stability in the SADC region, which includes playing particular attention to the growing stalemate in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The election of President Mnangagwa in Zimbabwe presents an opportunity for renewal in our neighbouring country and ally. We must commend the leadership of Zanu PF on how they have handled what can be regarded as the transition from the former President Robert Mugabe and President Mnangagwa.

The ANC international relations subcommittee must ensure that the organisation has a coherent and consistent message on the problems facing our continent. We need to have a coherent response on the recently revealed slave trade in Libya, and our position on the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

Global balance of forces are not in our favour, especially if one looks at the emergence of the far and centre right, conservatives, and populists in the recent election outcomes in major parts of Europe. The electoral victory of Mr. Trump in the United States, who thrives on nationalism, protectionism, and border closures, has also impacted on our Province which saw General Motors pulling out of South Africa. Historic forces of the left in the world are fragmented, however the stability in China creates a sense of hope. We must work to strengthen BRICS as part of our efforts of moving away from the unipolar order.

Battle of ideas

We have always maintained that the battle of ideas is a contested terrain, which the ANC must contest, especially in the context of the untransformed media in South Africa. Towards the 54th National Conference of the ANC, we had noted the hegemony of dominant media houses that continue to entrench editorial positions that are adversarial on the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), government programmes and ANC as leader of society. We however admitted that the “challenges and divisions within the ANC and the broader democratic movement have opened up a window of opportunity for local and global opponents of the ANC to attack the organisation.” We must continue to actively engage in the battle of ideas, as this is an instrument to advance our objectives, and defend the gains of the National Democratic Revolution.

ANC PEC Lekgotla

This PEC also precedes our 2018 Provincial Lekgotla which will be expected to make an assessment of the work done over past three years since the commencement of the fifth administration in relation to the commitments and resolutions we had taken, and as well as map out the ANC’s Programme of Action (POA) for the year as we also prepare for the Cabinet Lekgotla and State of the Province Address (SOPA).

It is in this context, that we must use this PEC meeting as platform to express and articulate the aspirations of our people in the Eastern Cape, in our fight for social justice and the struggle to eliminate the vast inequalities created by apartheid and the system of national oppression.

The populace of the province is highly dependent on the social grants. Unemployment in the Province remains high, an unfortunate reality that largely impacts women and youth. The 2017 Quarterly Labour Force Survey revealed that the Eastern Cape recorded the highest unemployment rate in South Africa standing at 35.5%. It further revealed an alarming increase in the Youth (15-35) years who claim for UIF, and about 27,000 retrenchments in the Trade and Industry sector, and that while jobs increased by 5,000 from the 2nd – 3rd quarter in 2017, 38,000 people lost their jobs during the same period.

The picture illustrated above demonstrates how the ANC can no longer afford to delay on its responsibility to lead the struggle for the total liberation of our people from their bondages of poverty, unemployment, and inequality. Our people need a strong and united ANC that is committed to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and the development of the Eastern Cape. The ANC was elected by an overwhelming majority of the people of the Eastern Cape in 2014, and as such, we need to work closely with our deployees in Government in order to implement our resolutions and commitments, and ensure that we use the state as a tool to transform the lives and conditions of our people.

On Governance: “Two Centres of Power”

Comrades, since the 54th National Conference of the ANC, the debate on the concept of “two centres of power” has once more arisen. On one hand, you have those that genuinely raise the question of the state being used to undermine the authority of the ANC, while on the other hand you have those that wish to use the debate to further their own individual interests for access to state positions and resources.

It is important that we reiterate that the ANC is the strategic centre of power and decision making, this is a point which we should always understand and emphasise. The state is a contested terrain of struggle, which the ANC working with the Alliance contests, for the sole purpose of using it to transform society and drive the National Democratic Revolution.

It is for this reason that we hold our Makgotla before the Cabinet Lekgotla, SOPA, and policy speeches, in that the ANC must inform the program of government as directed by our various Conference resolutions and Manifesto commitments. All deployees have a responsibility to drive the work of the ANC in government and implement ANC decisions with the aim of changing the lives and conditions of our people. This PEC is tasked by the 8th Provincial Conference and effectively the ANC constitution to oversee this work, especially as it relates to the Provincial Government, as such there should always be coherence between the work of the ANC and that of our government.

Coherence between the work of the ANC and government is not and should not be about individuals or positions. It is about a concrete program of action meant to overcome the structural legacies of apartheid. In this light, we must boldly repeat our sentiments that ANC conferences elect leadership of the ANC, and not of government but the government is ANC led, this is a dialectic that we must all understand. Being elected in the leadership of the ANC is a call to serve the organisation and not a direct route to government positions or parliament. Put differently, when the ANC takes a decision to make changes in government, that should not be the case merely because there was a Conference or a new PEC elected. Such a decision should be based on our efforts to improve the work of the ANC in government and ensure coherent implementation of our decisions, resolutions, and commitments to our people.

We must however not be resistant to act when there is a need, just because there was a contested conference and because we fear how we might be perceived in light of the various divisions and preferences that had had existed before our conferences. Yes, there were varying leadership perspectives towards the 8th Provincial Conference (and indeed the National Conference), but that should not stop the ANC from carrying out its mandate given to it by Conference and by our people through their overwhelming support expressed through the ballot. Our people should not suffer because of our divisions, trust deficits, and anxieties. We must provide leadership even when it is painful to do so.

We must not as Chairman Mao warned, “let things slide for the sake of peace and friendship when a person has clearly gone wrong, and refrain from principled argument because he is an old acquaintance, a fellow townsman, a schoolmate, a close friend, a loved one, an old colleague or old subordinate. Or to touch on the matter lightly instead of going into it thoroughly, so as to keep on good terms. The result is that both the organization and the individual are harmed.”

Stability of governance both Provincial and Local is extremely important, and we should ensure that we act in instances where our structures contribute to instability which we have witnessed especially in municipalities.

Unity

The ANC is a democratic national liberation movement whose strategic objective is to achieve a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, and prosperous society. We have kept this country united under very difficult conditions. Unity is the bedrock on which the ANC was formed, which was to unite all oppressed African peoples behind the vision of a democratic South Africa. We now have the task of uniting South Africans behind the struggle for radical socio-economic transformation. We cannot unite South Africans if we are divided.

The NEC has taken a decision that all conferences should be held before the month of June. In the Eastern Cape we have five regional conferences that are due, as well as two Regional General Councils that should be held to fill vacancies. We have a duty to ensure that we demonstrate absolute unity as we prepare for these conferences. We can no longer afford to create an impression and send a picture to society of an ANC that is unable to hold its conferences without tearing each other apart. Conferences were deliberately designed to strengthen the internal democracy of the organisation, while we might have differing views, such should not be elevated to divisions. If we all adhere to the processes outlined in the constitution and the guidelines (which the NEC agreed to have standard guidelines for all conferences taking place this year), we should not be encountering the problems we witnessed last year. As we did at the 5th National Conference of the ANC, let us once again prove the doomsayers wrong, and deliver peaceful, credible, and legitimate Regional Conferences of the organisation.

Leagues

As we mentioned earlier, 2018 is the year of Nelson Mandela, the year of Renewal, Unity and Jobs. The renewal of the ANC cannot be outside the renewal of the leagues of the ANC. The PEC has a constitutional obligation to oversee the work of the ANC Veterans’ League, the ANC Women’s League and the ANC Youth League in the Province. We must carry out this duty without reservation, fear, or favour. The weaknesses of our leagues, particularly the ANC YL and Women’s League, have a direct impact on the ANC itself.

We have seen how useful having a strong Women’s League and Youth League strengthens the hegemony of the ANC in society. It is therefore important that the ANC works with the leadership of the ANC Women’s League and ANC Youth League as both structures prepare for their Conferences.

Alliance

Part of the renewal of the ANC must be to renew our alliance in terms of its functioning and political coordination, we must strive to build a vibrant alliance from branch level upwards. The discussion on the reconfiguration of the Alliance needs to be pursued and ultimately concluded, in this regard we must ask ourselves what lessons can we learn from the recent Metsimaholo elections. Practically Alliance Summits, Political Councils and the Alliance Secretariat must be a regular and standing feature of our programme of action at all levels.

Fight against corruption

The ANC must intensify its fight against corruption, both in the public and private sector. We must welcome the establishment of the commission on state capture, which has been a standing resolution of the ANC. We should also welcome and repeat the sentiments expressed by the ANC president comrade Cyril Ramaphosa, who stated that where there are clear incidents of wrong-doing, state institutions meant to fight corruption should act and not wait for the conclusion of the work of the commission. We must welcome the actions taken by the Hawks in Free State in relation to the Estina Dairy Project investigation, as well as the arrests of some officials in Alfred Nzo District Municipality. The work of these state institutions must be reinforced by our own mechanisms, such as the integrity commission and disciplinary committees.

Water crisis in the Eastern Cape

The recent reports on the water crisis in some parts of the Eastern Cape are a cause for concern. Drought remains the source of the fiscal risks facing the province impacting on the different sectors of the economy especially agriculture which is a target for radical economic transformation in the Province. We should therefore use available research and devise strategies to address this growing problem, which not only threatens the livelihood of households, but our economy as well.

Conclusion

The ANC in the Province has a huge responsibility to overcome the overwhelming challenges confronting the Eastern Cape. We must work to improve the lives of our people and take the Eastern Cape to greater heights. As Amilcar Cabral explained: “national liberation, the struggle against colonialism, the construction of peace, progress and independence are hollow words devoid of any significance unless they can be translated into a real improvement of living conditions”. Let us work together with renewed energy and commitment to serve our people. In so doing we should remind ourselves of the words of President Nelson Mandela who stated that: “a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination.” Our people look onto the ANC as their hope for a better life, we dare not fail them.

Amandla!

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