Members of the PEC.
Good afternoon comrades and welcome to the first day of our Ordinary Provincial Executive Committee meeting.
Before we begin, let us convey our heartfelt condolences to the family of Mama Mandisa Makwetu, a revolutionary par excellence, and former member of APLA, whom we laid to rest yesterday at the Special Provincial Official Funeral Category 2 in Cofimvaba as declared by the President. We also take this moment to express our condolences to the Zulu Kingdom on the passing of their King, Goodwill Zwelithini. Indeed, the past week has been heavy on our nation as we also lost two talented and outstanding artists in Noxolo Maqashalala and Menzi Ngubane who both respectively played a remarkable role and left an indelible mark in social cohesion and nation building.
We are indeed left with heavy hearts and share the pain these families are going through as these are people who contributed immensely to the development of our country. Let us therefore observe a moment of silence in their honour and all those we have lost to Covid-19 and other causes since our last PEC meeting.
This is the first Ordinary PEC meeting in the year 2021 and is held six months before the term of this 8th PEC comes to an end. We therefore should begin to use this PEC meeting to have honest and objective reflections on the work we have done since our election at the 08th Provincial Conference at ICC in East London.
We must begin to assess the progress we have made in carrying out the mandate and directives of the 8th Provincial Conference which amongst others included:
· Working vigorously towards turning the ANC in the province into a powerful tool of transformation in the hands of our people;
· Breaking the cycle of weak political cohesion, factions and divisions in the province;
· Reinvigorating the values and political practices of the movement, and
· Leading our people in their daily struggles for a better life.
Emerging out of the 8th Provincial Conference, we understood that we cannot achieve these tasks if we did not work tirelessly and without fear or favour for the unity of the ANC and that of the Alliance in the Province. We appreciated the fact that we could not achieve these objectives without a strong and coherent organisation.
Our understanding as this collective was based on the reality that the challenges confronting our province that inherited a deeply bimodal structure from the apartheid era of impoverished and undeveloped homelands in the East of the Province, and more developed and affluent areas in the West; could not be transformed if we didn’t pull together all our strengths and capabilities to achieve our common objective.
We appreciated that:
“Just as the combat strength of a cavalry unit or the resistance of an infantry battalion differs in substance from the sum total of the individual strength of each cavalryman or each separate combatant, the sum total of the mechanical strength of each separate worker also differs from the mechanical strength created when they work in co-ordination and at the same time in the same indivisible work…” as explained by Karl Marx.
We understood the reality that Pixley Ka Seme eloquently articulated when he argued that: “we are one people. These divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today.”
This has been the history behind the formation of the ANC, a history of African people who recognised the need to combine their individual efforts against land dispossession into one concerted coordinated action, and a history of placing aside all differences and divisions to form one national organisation. A history that appreciated that we are stronger as an organisation than as individuals, no matter how individually talented or gifted we may be. In pursuit of the NDR, as members and leaders of the ANC, we must be grounded on the organisational literature and internalise Rule 2 of the ANC constitution. We must avoid creating confusion on matters of national interest such as the national question, social cohesion, nation building redressing the injustices of colonialism and apartheid system.
And so, this collective had to work untiringly for the unity and renewal of our movement as the urgent and most pressing task. We did so knowing that there will be resistance and efforts to undermine this work. We understood that there would be sections within our ranks and indeed within the leadership structures that would do everything possible to prevent the work of reinvigorating the values, integrity and practises of the movement. What we did not imagine, was the extent and the low levels to which comrades would be prepared to go, to fight back against the unity and renewal of the movement, as seen in the recent times.
We never imagined that some amongst us would be prepared to undermine the authority of structures that they serve in, and to rather have the organisation in paralysis than to allow the wisdom of the collective and of branches to prevail.
In the final analysis, we can conclude that comrade Joel Netshitenzhe was correct in saying that:
“The beneficiaries of corruption and state capture will not give up without a fight.”
And that we should internalize this reality because attached to it, is the question; what should we do?
It is without a doubt that we should intensify the fight to restore the values, practises and integrity of our movement. We should relentlessly wage a war on liquidators, disruptors, factional snipers and those that undermine and defy the will of the majority. We must deepen our fight against corruption and corporate capture of our movement and our country. We must double our efforts in ensuring that we close the gap between the movement and our people and work to regain their trust and confidence in areas where these have declined.
We cannot, and we will not give in. For as long as the anguishes we face today as a collective and individuals will lead to a renewed ANC in the hands of the people, and to a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa, we cannot and we will not be deterred.
We have done relatively well in carrying our tasks and mandate given to us, despite all the challenges that this collective faced since its election. This assessment however will be done by the members of the ANC when we return their organisation to them at our upcoming Provincial Conference.
Comrades, our meeting takes place on the day where the nation is commemorating 61 years since the Sharpeville Massacre. Today we remember all those who sacrificed and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. The images of the 69 people who were shot and killed by the apartheid police in Sharpeville, as well as others across the country, are a painful reminder that our freedom was not free. It is sharp reminder of the pain and suffering that was experienced for us to live peacefully and in harmony in the country of our birth and origin.
This day exposed apartheid lies to the world and the brutality of the illegitimate regime on a people who were fighting for their rights and dignity. It has thus continued to be a day where we remember the tragedy that befell our people who were challenging the senseless draconian laws of the white minority government and a moment to reflect on the progress we have made in promoting and protecting human rights.
As we reflect on this, we must appreciate the great strides we have made but also the immense work that we still have to do, to ensure that human rights are enjoyed by everyone, despite their race, gender, age or creed.
We still have a lot of work to do, to restore the dignity of all our people, especially here in our province where the majority depends on social grants and a huge number of people are without employment or formal training. A lot of work still needs to be done, for as long as women and children live in fear mainly because of men, and that gender-based violence and femicide remain a second pandemic in our society. Human rights will only be truly celebrated when women enjoy full rights as equal human beings with their male counterparts.
As a province that saw nine wars of resistance which were fought over a 100-year period, we are proud to have hosted this year’s National Human Rights Day which was held under the theme:
“The year of Charlotte Maxeke, Promoting Human Rights in the Age of Covid-19”
Let us therefore continue to defend the sacrifices that our people made in fighting for the rights of all South Africans. We meet here today after the ANC Makgotlas directed us to focus on two priorities for this year which are: defeating the covid-19 pandemic and economic reconstruction and recovery. We have carried out these instructions in government both in the State of the Province Address and in the Provincial Budget Speech.
The Covid-19 pandemic has ravaged our lives and livelihoods and has reversed much of the progress we had made in promoting the rights and dignity of all our people. Though our interventions helped us overcome the first and second surges of the Covid-19 virus, we are still faced with the possibility of a third wave. As this leadership collective we must be worried about the imminent threat that is posed by a third wave, as we have seen the impact of the virus on the socio-economic conditions of our people. Our plans in government were severely disrupted and several changes had to be made on our priorities, to direct more resources in the fight to save lives and preserve livelihoods.
What is clear though, is that we can no longer sustain the interventions we have continued to make and that were made possible through the declaration of the National State of Disaster. Our resources are running thin, and we continue to suffer huge revenue shortfalls as highlighted by our Finance MEC, comrade Mlungisi Mvoko when presented the Provincial Budget Speech.
That is the reality of our situation and all this points out to the need to reconstruct and rebuild our economy so that we may be in a position to continue intervening in the problems faced by society. Comrades, economic reconstruction and recovery will however be difficult in the context of a high burden of disease due to Covid-19.
This is why we must ensure that we increase the speed of rolling out vaccines to our people. As things stand, we have administered 16 808 Johnson and Johnson vaccines in the province. An enormous task lies ahead of us, considering our target to vaccinate 3.7 million people for us to reach population immunity in the province.
We will not achieve this target if we don’t work together and pull all our resources towards getting our people vaccinated. We need society to rally behind the call for all to be vaccinated. At the same time, we must ensure that we make more vaccines available at an increasing rate.
The vaccine rollout will only be successful if we all focus on the task at hand and ensure the equitable distribution of the vaccines. We must also join the voices that are calling against the practise of vaccine nationalism because none of us are safe from the virus until all of us are safe from it.
As we rollout vaccines, we must continue to stress the importance of continuing with the preventative measures that have helped us to manage the spread of the virus in our communities. We must continue to observe the non-pharmaceutical interventions by wearing our masks in public spaces, avoiding large gatherings and super-spreader events, washing our hands regularly and maintaining physical distance.
Throughout this pandemic, we have repeatedly conveyed our appreciation for the efforts of our healthcare workers to the cause of saving the lives of our people. We are going to support the Department of Health by expanding the human resources available in anticipation of the third wave and for the rapid roll-out of the vaccination program by repurposing the current contract workers contracted for Covid 19, whose contracts were coming to an end this month. I must hasten to add though that we are constrained by financial resources to make their employment permanent at the moment.
Deputy Chairperson, our meeting will consider the report of the ANC PEC Lekgotla, which gave clear instructions on the principles that must guide economic reconstruction and recovery as well as PWC report that will give details of organisational work since the last ordinary PEC meeting.
We agreed that Covid-19 demonstrated the importance of the centrality of the democratic state to drive growth and development. Even the rollout of vaccines will be distributed equitably because of the centrality of the state. Those that are calling for the decentralisation of vaccine rollout, including the DA, are doing so because they want to see vaccines accessed on the basis of affordability than on need.
Interestingly though, none of them opposed the centrality of the state during the management of the pandemic, and when medical aid schemes could not help people to get a bed in private hospitals. What we saw was the implementation of universal health care coverage where access to healthcare was made available to all despite one’s socio-economic conditions, and this was possible through the centrality of the state. These are lessons we must take out of the Covid-19 experience and that must guide our economic reconstruction and recovery so that growth and development is not in the interest of a few (with the hope that this will trickle down), but to the benefit of the majority.
Our Lekgotla directed us to ensure that our economic reconstructions and recovery is also based on increased public sector investment in the economy. This is why we established the provincial economic stimulus fund through top slicing our provincial departmental budgets to invest in the economy. We cannot complain about the private sector investment strike, when we are not using public funds and resources to invest in the economy. We are therefore aligning our public spending to contribute to the growth and development of our province. This is why we are promoting buying local for the goods and services that we use in the provincial and local spheres of government. We have many businesses in our communities that are producing goods and offering services that we procure every day from established businesses. This is a picture we need to change even if it means making changes to procurement regimes for this purpose. This is why our Lekgotla directed us to introduce progressive and preferential public procurement policies targeting cooperatives, SMMEs, and local businesses that are owned by designated groups.
Our interventions must include the creation, capacitation and support for the cooperative sector to increase productive levels and ensure more participation in the economy. We cannot do this if we wait for requests for assistance in our offices, we need to be proactive and innovative to ensure that we find and assist all those that wake up and try to fend for themselves in this difficult economic climate.
Rural development and development of resilient and sustainable township economies should be at the centre of our economic reconstruction and recovery efforts. That is the only way we can protect and grow our economy to defend our sovereignty from the rating agencies and imposed conditions from international financial institutions.
But of course, comrades, we can only make progress in this regard if we have a capable and developmental state. The state of governance in our province is telling and shows that we have not yet reached a stage where we have capable and developmental state institutions that can deliver on their mandate. A lot still needs to be done to improve the state of our municipalities and we will continue providing the required support in that regard.
We will also have to fulfil our commitment to the people of ensuring that we deploy only the best amongst us to political and administrative positions in government. We must deploy only the cadres who have a thorough grasp of the tasks at hand, who have the requisite skills and capabilities needed to advance the national democratic revolution in the state and more importantly whose hearts and minds are in serving the people our province diligently than their own personal interests. We have a dilemma where our cadre deployment policy is constantly being called into question because of the conduct of our deployees in positions of responsibility.
This is why all our candidates for the upcoming local government elections will have to complete the four online compulsory OR Tambo School of Leadership courses as a requirement for selection. The same will be the case for the provincial and national government elections, including election into senior structures of the organisation. As this PEC we must ensure that this is implemented and not create excuses for why it cannot be carried out.
Unity of the Alliance in the province and at all levels of the organisation is crucial, and this PEC must develop a programme that will work to strengthen the relations of the alliance and those of the MDM formations. What is undoubtedly true, is that we cannot go to the upcoming local government elections with a fragmented alliance and MDM formations that are not cohesive on the work of advancing our shared NDR. It is quite clear that we need to work on the unity and cohesion of the Alliance, and as the ANC we must play our leadership role in that regard. This includes, finding solutions to the problems that are creating tensions within the Alliance. We cannot have courts arbitrate matters that we can resolve as the Alliance, especially those that relate to hard-won victories such as collective bargaining. We must find each other, and do so not just for the sake of elections, but for protecting the unity and cohesion of these formations whose history was formed in struggle.
One of the urgent tasks this collective must attend to before the term of office ends, is the revival of our Leagues in the Province. Our NDR is under threat if we do not deal with the current state of our Leagues. The ANC Youth League has an important role to play in society and in the ANC, and its absence means that youth struggles will be championed outside the progressive forces of the MDM. The revival and renewal of the Youth League must be in the interests of young people in the ANC and in society, and not in the self-serving interest of groupings and factions in the ANC. Those comrades who will be entrusted with the responsibility to revive the YL must place ahead the interests of the organisation and that of advancing youth struggles, rather than their own interests.
Comrades, as we work to take back the organisation that was entrusted on us by the 08th Provincial Conference to the branches of our movement, we must do everything possible to protect the gains we made during this period. Our organisation is more intact and coherent than it was before, particularly ahead and immediately after the 08th Provincial Conference. That bodes well for the development of our province and her people.
We all know how painful the road we travelled towards the Provincial Conference was, and this alone should be a reminder that we cannot walk that road again. We cannot afford to tear each other apart in the manner that we did ahead of the 08th Provincial Conference. I say this knowing fully well that attempts are being made day and night to fragment us again as we go to the 9th Provincial Conference, because for years we have allowed our province to be the stomping ground for political careerism, sowing divisions and driving wedges within the ranks of the movement in order to advance self-serving and personal desires.
In closing the Morogoro Consultative Conference, President O. R Tambo, warned us to be vigilant against wedge drivers, who go around from ear to ear creating splits and divisions. As a province we therefore need to close ranks!
The 09th Provincial Conference must be characterised by utmost unity and discipline as well as frank and robust deliberations in the interest of the strengthening the organisation and advancing, deepening and defending the NDR. This time around, let there be a festival of ideas rather than what we saw in the 8th Provincial Conference, which was diametrically opposed to the character and values of the ANC.
Our term officially ends at the 9th Provincial Conference. Until then we must lead this organisation and act in its best interest and the interests of our people. We must not shy away from taking decisions that are necessary because of hopes for re-election, as doing so would be dereliction of duty on our part.
Let us intensify the fight to restore the integrity of the ANC, and in this regard, we must repeat the words of former President Thabo Mbeki who said:
“Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us.”
Once again, welcome to the first day of our Ordinary PEC meeting. Let us engage in a manner that will lead to a positive change and meaningful impact on people’s lives.
Thank you very much!