Political Overview delivered by the ANC EC Provincial Chairperson at the PEC Lekgotla on 04 Feb 2018

Chairperson of the Session, Cde Mvoko,

NEC members present, our Alliance Partners present

Our MDM Structures, invited guests, Comrades, good morning.

I greet and welcome you on behalf of the 8th Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Eastern Cape on this day where we have gathered here for the 2018 ANC PEC Lekgotla. This is the first PEC Lekgotla since the 8th Provincial Conference, as such it is critical to set a clear baseline and outline the understanding of the mandate given by branches of the ANC since the historic 54th National Conference and our Provincial Conference.

Three weeks ago, we hosted a very successful ANC 106th January 8th Anniversary Rally. The Anniversary Celebrations were 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 as a whole. We started on time, in line with our plans, and we must congratulate ourselves on that as well.

2018 is the year to celebrate 100 years of Isithwalandwe Nelson Mandela and our mother 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.

This 2018 PEC Lekgotla must make a political assessment of the work done since the commencement of the fifth administration against a set of Priorities that have have been based on our Manifesto Commitments and resolutions meant to improve the lives of our people in the Province.

We need to map out the ANC’s Programme of Action (POA) for the year of 2018 as we also prepare for the Provincial Cabinet Lekgotla and State of the Province Address (SOPA).

We must use this PEC Lekgotla 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, manifesting itself today in structural and systematic inequalities perpetuated by our inadequate interventions. All of us here today are aware of the long road that we have traversed as a nation from the deprivation brought on our people by apartheid.

Our people are 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.

These statistics can only tell us that what we have been doing is not enough. We need to change, we need a different approach, we need to do something about our Government’s inefficiencies and systematic bottlenecks that hinder growth and development.

The NEC January 8th Statement has paved the way on the work that needs to be done. It stated that “ 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 divisions 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.

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.

As we mentioned earlier, 2018 is the year of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, 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 need to put an end to the divisions within the organization, which continue to tear our movement apart. We just emerged from a united 54th National Conference, yet it seems we are fast returning back to our old ways of public spats, contradicting statements within the leadership of the ANC, indecisiveness, and other growing negative tendencies within our ranks. It is days like these when one is reminded of the words of President Oliver Tambo who explained that “No political force can destroy the ANC, it is only the ANC that can destroy itself”.

We should ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of our dark past, let us truly ensure that 2018 is the year for Renewal, Unity, and Jobs.

We shall work to restore the integrity and credibility 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.

Our inability to deal decisively with corruption amongst other things has had a huge impact on the integrity, credibility, and image of the organization. We need to strengthen our mechanisms that are meant to purge the ANC of all the negative elements that bring its image into disrepute.

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.

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”. a renewed African National Congress that is rooted amongst the people.

Comrades, the branch is the foundation of our movement. Minus branches, there is no ANC. I want us to think deeply about this. As the PEC we commited to visit all Branches of the Movement in this Province to revitalise the Branch and take it back from those elements who would use our members for their own selfish needs.

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.

Comrades, this is an important task. This in fact, is probably the most important foundation laid by Isithwalandwe Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of all time, whose life and legacy we celebrate this year of 2018. We must never allow ourselves to diminish the importance of creating a South Africa which is inclusive, and non-racial. We owe it to future generations to continue with the hard work of bridging racial cleavages and to build solidarity, understanding and harmony amongst racial groupings in South Africa. This will not be done on the basis of appeasement. It will be done on the understanding and recognition that the black child remains poor and locked outside the levers of economic power. It will be done on the understanding that each of us have something to contribute to build a South Africa that we can all live in.

We shall mobilise all social partners, in particular government, labour and business, behind an economic recovery plan.

The radical social and economic transformation entails social and economic change that straddles all elements of economic activity, and consistently improves the quality of life of all South Africans. Primarily, radical economic transformation is about fundamentally changing the structure of South Africa’s economy from an exploitative exporter of raw materials, to one which is based on beneficiation and manufacturing, in which our people’s full potential can be realized. In addition to ensuring increased economic participation by black people in the commanding heights of the economy, radical economic transformation must have a mass character. A clear objective of radical economic transformation must be to reduce racial, gender and class inequalities in South Africa through ensuring more equity with regards to incomes, ownership of assets and access to economic opportunities.

We shall confront corruption and state capture in all the forms and manifestations that these scourges assume.

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 confront illicit financial flows and all forms of illicit trade even in our Province. Over the years, the tobacco sector has been faced with an increase in illicit trade. Draft resolutions from the Peace and Security Commission at the recent ANC Elective Conference notes that “South Africa has the highest illicit tobacco incidence in the region and is listed amongst the top five illicit markets globally”. In 2013, an estimated 31% of all cigarettes consumed in the country were illicit. In 2015, this number is still around 23%. The illegal trade in cigarettes represents the single biggest threat to the legal tobacco industry and is costing the South African government hundreds of millions of Rands in lost revenue. It is estimated that the country loses over R6bn annually. Law enforcement agencies should work to adequately curb the rapid increase in illicit trade.

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 corrupt practices.

For the Eastern Cape, radical socio-economic transformation means we must review division of revenue so that budgets for largely rural provinces are increased. Equally, public-sector investment for large strategic infrastructure projects must be sourced without delay. We must have a clear strategy on funding these projects .

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.

The vision of free higher education for the poor, will give effect to our objective of a skills revolution, and will enable us to modernise our economy, improve the beneficiation of our natural resources and prepare our workforce for the fourth industrial revolution. We want to emphasize that when working-class children receive education, skills and training, they will have opportunities to start their own businesses through the support of government agencies, benefit from public and private-sector procurement, and get jobs.

The private sector must commit to large-scale transformation so that together we may train young people and give them contracts to supply goods and services to all sectors of the economy. When we are all committed to a united vision of transformation, our economy will attract foreign and local investors, creating conditions that will benefit all our people: young and old, women and men, black and white.

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.

This Lekgotla should deliberate and come up with ways that will meaningfully give effect to the resolution to expropriate land without compensation. We should come up with strategies to accelerate land redistribution and agricultural development so that those who receive land through land reform programmes will use that land productively by engaging in commercial agriculture.

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 54th National 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.

International Balance of Forces

This Lekgotla gathers at time of great peril in the world, especially for developing countries. Over the last two years, we have seen the re-emergence of right wing, down right fascist political views across the developed world with great implications for those of us from the global South. The climax of this great tragedy is the ascendance of that ignoble embodiment of all that is wrong in the world, Mr Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America. Whatever hope we all still harboured about the United States resuming its role as a force for global good has now been dealt a terminal blow. Already the electoral victory of 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.

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. We must reflect and have a coherent response on the recently revealed slave trade in Libya, and our position on the continued occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.

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.

The PEC Lekgotla is convened 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 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 ANC Peace, Stability and International Relations SubCommittee must ensure that the organisation has a coherent and consistent message on the problems facing our Province through a synergy and alignment of Bilateral and Twinning Agreements that our Government have engaged and entered into.

The ANC has a duty to continue building its relationships with progressive movements across the world. We must continue working closely with movements such as ZANU-PF, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, SWAPO, FRELIMO, the Communist Party of China etc. As Comrades know, the ANC has long standing relations with these giants of the struggle against oppression. We are products of their good will and faith. We must never allow ourselves to be swayed by exigencies of the moment.

Reconfiguration of Provincial and Local Government

The ANC PEC has taken a decision to reconfigure our Provincial Government following the deteriorating relations between the ANC leadership in the Province and ANC deployees in the Provincial Government. It has further resolved to review deployments in certain municipalities with continued challenges in the Province. As such, we will be meeting with the ANC NEC Officials as part of the process of implementing the decision.

The ANC has a responsibility to oversee its work in government, as an organization that has been entrusted with the responsibility to create a better life for all. In so doing, it must ensure coherence and effective implementation of our manifesto commitments, resolutions, and decisions.

Coherence between the work of the ANC and government is not and should 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 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.

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.

On going violence, mine workers trapped underground

We must continue to condemn the escalating violence in the Country and in the Province. Gender based violence directed on women continues to escalate despite our efforts of fighting against this scourge. Let us use this Lekgotla to develop practical methods that will end violence and crime in the province, and this should include the involvement of our communities and structures.

We recently learnt about the 950 mineworkers which were trapped underground in a Sibanye Gold Mine in Free State. While the unfortunate incident has been accredited to a storm which took place on Wednesday, it is clear that the mining company, like others, did not adequately invest in the safety of its workers. Capitalism is about profit making at the expense of those who sell their labor in order to survive. We need to end the super-exploitation of workers by their bosses, and this we will do if we remain committed to our shared National Democratic Revolution.

Conclusion

We are the Eastern Cape, the home of legends. The home of Isithwalandwe, Nelson Mandela, a man whose sufferings and sacrifice made him one of the greatest Statesmen in the world.

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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