Members of the newly elected PEC : Congratulations to you all cdes
Let’s start by congratulating Cde Phil Norushe on his election as Deputy President of our Veterans league .
We are here today in our first meeting as the new Provincial Executive Committee, indeed we remain humbled by the confidence shown by the collective branches of the ANC in the Province.
We have indeed been given a great responsibility, okwethu ke kukukhulela uxanduva, sithunyiwe! zesingahambi sidlala. Whenever the ANC has a new leadership society awaits with bated breath to hear how this new leadership collective will advance their everyday struggle for a better life, these expectations of our people express the importance of the task before us and why we must use this meeting to develop a clear programme to deliver on these expectations.
It is a striking coincidence that we are meeting here during this month that the movement of our people, the ANC is leading the nation in remembrance of this giant that strode the globe like a colossus President Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo.
On the occasion of another momentous event in the life of this organization, President Oliver Tambo in opening the Kabwe Consultative Conference, had this to say, “This day, the opening of the National Consultative Conference of the ANC, is a great and moving moment in the history of our struggle for national liberation.
The days we will spend here will live forever in the records of that struggle as marking a turning point in the history of all the people of South Africa. Our Conference itself will be remembered by our people as a council-of-war that planned the seizure of power by these masses, the penultimate convention that gave the order for us to take our country through the terrible but cleansing fires of revolutionary war to a condition of peace, democracy and the fulfilment of our people who have already suffered far too much and far too long”.
History has therefore placed on the shoulders of this collective here, a responsibility and a challenge which we must all discharge with all due seriousness. In closing the 8th Provincial Conference we said “ The Africa National Congress is our collective inheritance, a guarantee and a promise of our collective future. President O.R Tambo and many of our other forebears have built a resilient movement, a movement with an ability to adapt to changing conditions, a movement with a strong ability to self-correct.
We are asked today to stand firm and confront the challenges facing this movement of Reverend James Calata. The ANC is our inheritance and our future lets today standing here all commit to helping heal the ANC, let us commit to building the ANC, let us confront and renew the ANC to place it again at the hands of the people as an instrument to deliver the promise of a better life for all”
We further said “it is imperative that we emerge from this conference fully committed to unite this province, there must be no winners or losers, now there is one PEC which must lead all ANC members. Unity is the bedrock on which our movement was founded and therefore in the ANC can be no substitute for unity”. We must out of this meeting come out with a practical plan of how we are going to unite our province, how are we going to reach out to comrades who had a different leadership preference and extend an olive branch to all those who may aggrieved by the outcomes of the 8th Provincial Conference.
Comrade former Deputy President Cde Kgalema Motlante asks, “is unity in the ANC a means to an end or an end in itself? He answers this question by saying it is both a means to an end and an end in itself”, that unity is the vehicle that must take us to a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa, the ANC cannot unite South Africans if it is divided itself. A united South Africa is the ultimate objective of the ANC, because a united South Africa means that there will be no divisions on the basis of race, gender, rich and poor(class if you like) but a united ANC is a prerequisite for a united South Africa if the ANC is to be true to its role as leader of society.
Therefore, in the ANC unity is not a nice to have or just a desirable trait but a strategic objective of the ANC since its formation re: “To unite the people of South Africa”
Therefore our task is to unite the province primarily but even towards the upcoming 54th National Conference, as a province we must lead the efforts aimed at uniting the ANC because amongst the key solutions to the problems facing our movement is the question of unity of common purpose.
Considering the nature of challenges facing the ANC, we have no other alternative but to unite the movement in pursuance of our primary political objectives. As this collective therefore, we must make the task of building of unity in the Province and the ANC at large our primary focus throughout our term of office. We must commit to do all in our power, and through our actions, to ensure that we go down in history as the generation that placed the ANC on a higher level of unity and accelerated the tempo of the struggle. This is the great task that on our election we committed to, today we are gathered here to give a practical meaning to this commitment.”
We are acutely aware of the challenges that are facing the organisation, and we must view this point as marking and signalling the beginning of the renewal and reclaiming of the historic role of the province in national body politics. As a response we must develop a political, socio-economic transformation and renewal programme for the province which will serve as a common objective for all of us to unite behind its pursuance.
Franz Fanon on Pitfall of National Consciousness writes “After a few years, the break-up of the party becomes obvious, and any observer, even the most superficial, can notice that the party, today is the skeleton of its former self, only serves to immobilize the people. The party, which during the battle had drawn to itself the whole nation, is falling to pieces.
The intellectuals who on the eve of independence rallied to the party, now make it clear by their attitude that they gave their support to no other end in view than to secure their slices of the cake of independence. The party is becoming a means of private advancement’’.
It is in this context that it cannot be business as usual and we as the organisation must be deliberate about the path we should take going forward. We must work to renew the ANC as an organisation, renew the ANC in terms of its moral standing, renew the organisational and leadership integrity of the ANC and renewal of the structures of the ANC. We must build the moral standing of the ANC by fully playing our role as a leader of the society and living up to the moral standards of society.
We must seek ways to ensure that the leadership of the ANC at all levels is exemplary and beyond reproach in its conduct. We must take urgent and practical steps to restore the core values, stem out factionalism and promote political discipline. In this regard, we shall combine political education with effective organisational measures and mechanism to promote integrity, political discipline and ethical conduct and defeat the demon of factionalism in the ranks of the ANC, Alliance and broad mass democratic movement.
Building a stronger ANC also means building its leagues to be much stronger. It is needless to say that over the last two years, except the Veterans League, both the Women’s League and the Youth League have been in disarray. These leagues are in a rebuilding phase having been disbanded and taken to their conferences. Unfortunately the phenomenon of factions have impacted negatively in this rebuilding phase. Moving forward in consolidating our leagues we must work consciously to defeat these tendencies.
The ANC needs a highly mobile and vibrant Ancyl. The majority of our population is youthful, we can therefore ill afford a weak and confused ANCYL. This is evident in the elections for the student representative councils in our tertiary institutions. We must work even harder to restore our leadership and reverse the losses we have suffered some of the universities.
All movements across the world place a strategic importance to youth because young people could have been considered as “a white sheet of paper” on which anything could be printed. This anything means youth could be the catalyst of great revolutions and as yet could be the seed of most reactionary and destructive tendencies, it all depends on what gets ‘’printed on the white sheet’’, which in this context is their values, ethos, attitudes, ideologies, philosophies etc.
Youth with specific reference to South African youth in all times of developments have always been on the cutting edge or in the forefront of societal evolution and that youth in this country have earned its rightful reference as ‘Young Lions’, ‘uFasimba’, ‘young intelligentsia’ etc. What makes youth to be that important is its vigour, energy, impatience for change, solid convictions, this coupled with its bravery, dynamism, foresight, stamina, courage and hope becomes hallmarks of strata in transition in defining the future and society they are to inherit. Therefore, what we do with youth and its organisations today it’s a will define of what becomes of our tomorrow.
From this point onwards, we vow to lead our people in their struggle for a better life, to create decent work for our young people, address the challenges of unemployed graduates and make education and development opportunities accessible to all, including the millions who do not have higher education.
In the Eastern Cape today, fifty-seven percent (57%) of households depend on social grants. This is neither acceptable nor is it sustainable, our economy remains insufficiently transformed and dominated by finance, government services, retail trade and an ageing automotive sector. What does radical economic transformation mean to us as province given this reality? Agriculture and the oceans economy remain the main sectors that have potential to unlock the economic development of the province, radical economic transformation to us therefore should amongst other things mean a radical approach to unlocking the potential of these sectors.
We must drive the the investment of massive capital, the maximum use of our productive land, natural resources and a radical agro-processing capability targeting a full integration of this province’s economy with the rest of the country. Our task is therefore to develop a new growth strategy that will result in inclusive growth and the Eastern Cape’s development potential being practicalised. The question of Education and Health remains amongst the key challenges confronting us as a province and as this collective we must come up with innovative ideas on how to resolve these challenges.
In concluding I stand before you with a heavy heart as a result of the unfortunate incidents of violence that took place in the Conference, I never ever imagined as the African National Congress that a Conference would be tarnished in such a manner, where members of the ANC would direct violence towards each other. As a matter of principle, as this leadership we must strongly condemn the acts of violence in ANC gatherings– no matter who is right and who is wrong. We also would like to wish all those who were injured, a speedy recovery.
We again also extend our sincere apologies to them and their families, no one should ever sustain any injury as a result of attending an ANC meeting or conference.
As this collective, we must, therefore, see to it that we learn from these incidents so as to ensure that going forward we make it our collective programme to root out the underlying issues which manifest themselves through acts of violence. In this regard, we should heed the wise counsel of Chairman Mao when he says “learn from past mistakes to avoid future ones and cure the sickness to save the patient” in the end our responsibility is to cure the sicknesses engulfing the party to save the party ultimately.”
Comrades our focus must remain clearly on our goal of emerging with a united organisation that will serve the interests of all the people of this Province, especially the poor and marginalised whose only voice is the vote they give to the ANC. Comrades all the signs before us, are calling upon us to chart a new path, it is in moments like these which provide opportunity for renewal and self correction. Let us not dare miss this opportunity. As former President Tambo aptly observed, the eyes of our people on and beyond both friend and foe are upon us, we can’t fail our people!