Deputy Chairperson, Cde Mlungisi Mvoko
NEC Members present,
Members of the Provincial Executive Committee
I bring you revolutionary greetings on this first day of the Ordinary PEC meeting. We are meeting today as part of the constitutional requirements of the PEC. There is high expectation from the membership of the ANC and society when we meet as the highest decision-making body in between conferences. The manner of engagement and outcomes of the meeting will determine whether or not those expectations are justified, out of every meeting of the ANC especially at this level must be outcomes that have the impact of changing the lives of ordinary South Africans.
Comrades, we are meeting today at a time where we are mourning the sad passing of struggle veteran, Cde Joe Ngalo. Comrade Ngalo joined the liberation struggle in Port Elizabeth at a very young age. He was trained at Odessa in the Soviet Union and in the Kongwa Camp in Tanzania. He was one of the MK soldiers that participated in the Sipolilo campaign where he narrowly escaped death. He worked closely with comrades such President OR Tambo and Moses Kotana and upon his return from exile he remained active in the ANC and VL structures. We will remember him for his outspoken character especially on the renewal and restoration of the integrity of the ANC which he served his entire life. Indeed, we have lost a giant.
His death should be a painful reminder that those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today are beginning to leave this world. We are losing our veterans at a very fast rate, which should cause us to reflect on the meaning of this reality in relation to the various problems that we are confronted with today. We must ask ourselves the question: can we say we are producing the calibre of the likes of uTat’ uNgalo in our current generation, do we have the commitment and loyalty they had for the struggle and the people of South Africa? Do we have the capacity and willingness to sacrifice as they did, and continue where they left of in advancing the objectives of the NDR? We must use this PEC to reflect on these questions. He deserves a decent send off.
This PEC Meeting is also convened few days after another debacle of 6 kids who died in Mount Fletcher due to floods because they must cross a river for them to access education. This is sad as these kids had their lives cut short untimely and unceremoniously. We appeal to our government to seamlessly act with speed to adress these catastrophic social infrastructure backlogs. Once again, we convey our deepest condolences to the families and the school affected.
Since we last convened as a PEC, a number of developments have occurred organisationally, domestically and globally. These developments require our revolutionary understanding and a concrete analysis of the concrete realities that we are confronted with on a daily basis. The ANC remains a national liberation movement that is committed to the struggle of overcoming the three interrelated and interconnected fundamental contradictions of racial oppression, class super-exploitation and patriarchal relations power. By overcoming these three interrelated contradictions the ANC seeks to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Our National Executive Committee and government have summarised this objective through our 2019 theme which is to grow South Africa together. We can only advance the struggle to achieve a national democratic society which has the features outlined above, if we are united both as a mass democratic movement and as a people of South Africa. It is for this reason that we have resolved to declare 2019 as the ‘Year of United Action To Grow South Africa’.
Deputy Chairperson, we are well aware that the task to grow South Africa in the context of the global, domestic and intra-organisational factors is not an easy one. It is true that we are operating under circumstances not of our own choosing.
Prof. Murray in his short summary of evidence also explains the point above when he argues that: “Society is therefore conditioned by the material conditions on which it is based. The form of society, the institution of society, the ways of thinking of society are the outcome of the material conditions…”
This means that our approach to resolving the problems that we face and growing the economy must be based on a concrete reading and understanding of the material conditions as they are, and not as we wish them be.
Our approach must also be guided by the use of revolutionary theory as a tool of analysis and guide to action. As Thomas Sankara explained, “a soldier without political or ideological training is a potential criminal.”
As a PEC we must therefore individually and collectively seek to sharpen our theoretical grasp and use this to develop a thorough understanding of the global, domestic and intra-organisational factors that affect our daily work in pursuit of our strategic objective. Allow me therefore Deputy Chairperson to briefly reflect on the developments in the international community.
Comrades, globalisation has made it difficult to ignore the developments in the geo-political space. The world has become more and more interconnected in that internal contradictions of one nation has an impact on other nations especially where there are trade relations concerned.
The global neo-liberal offensive has intensified, it is now based on a concerted effort to undermine the sovereignty of progressive nations by sponsoring unrest especially post elections which are unfavourable to the right-wing forces. We are witnessing this scourge in the desperate attempts by the United States and their allies to overthrow the democratic government of Venezuela as led by President Maduro.
Deputy Chairperson, let me take this opportunity to express our solidarity as the ANC in the Eastern Cape with the people of Venezuela. In line with South Africa’s position, and all other progressive countries in the world, we are against any form of imposed unconstitutional change in Venezuela. As such, we support President Maduro as elected by the people of Venezuela and call for the international community to allow the people of Venezuela to self-determine their fate. We must condemn the US and their allies on their illegal recognition of a self-imposed president, an act that is a violation of international law and meant to undermine the sovereignty of Venezuela.
One thing that we cannot ignore as this PEC, is that behind this desperate attempt to illegally oust President Maduro is the United States’ uncontrollable desire to control Venezuela’s oil reserves and their wealth which has nothing to do with the people of the country. As a country that has recently discovered oil reserves on our shores in the Western Cape, we should take keen interest on the matter and join millions of progressive forces in the world that are expressing their solidarity with the people of Venezuela.
Comrades, 2019 marks 71 years since the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel, this is seven decades of injustice and gross human rights violation. The violence on Palestinians calls on us to reflect on the words of President Nelson Mandela when he said: “having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others faces. Yet we would be less than human if we did so.” We must fold our arms and be indifferent to the injustices that are faced by other people because we are free. President Mandela went on to state that: “It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.”
As the PEC, we must actively participate in the upcoming annual Israeli Apartheid Week and pledge our solidarity with the people of Palestine by joining the activities that will be organised in support of the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.
It behoves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.
Developments in the African Continent
We are witnessing the restoration of calm and stability in our neighbouring country, Zimbabwe. We note the appointment of the Presidential Advisory Council in Zimbabwe by President Mnangagwa which is composed of experts from various fields. This decision by President Mnangagwa demonstrates progress towards the recovery process of the country and ensuring political and economic stability. The positive developments in Zimbabwe illustrates the importance of allowing people of a sovereign nation to resolve their problems without undue influence from elsewhere.
The continent has about 15 elections taking place this year, ours and Botswana being among of them. Given the history of political turmoil in the continent and struggle to achieve meaningful democracy in African nations, we must applaud the relative calm environment towards these elections and in those that have taken place. Despite the wave of protests in Algeria that are calling for the current 82-year-old president to be disqualified from running for a fifth term, we are also witnessing a large degree of calm in the country especially if one takes into account the history of the 10-year civil war in Algeria. Again, in this instance, we must caution against international forces that will seek to interfere in the internal affairs of the country for their own interests. The statement made by France in relation to the protests that they were carefully observing them is cause for concern.
We must continue to work for the unity of the continent and improve the inter-continental trade relations. Our continent is faced with the challenge to overcome structural under-development as a result of our colonial past.
Explaining the impact of colonialism on African economic development, Joshua Dwayne Settles explained that: “the imposition of colonialism on Africa altered its history forever. African nodes of thought, patterns of cultural development, and ways of life were forever impacted by the change in political structure brought about by colonialism.”
He further argues that: “prior to the “Scramble for Africa,” or the official partition of Africa by the major European nations, African economies were advancing in every area, particularly in the area of trade.”
It is for the reason highlighted above that Africa is faced with structural and systematic problems of poverty, unemployment and multidimensional inequality.
Domestic Balance of Forces
Comrades it is no doubt that the domestic balance of forces are increasingly becoming in our favour as progressive forces in pursuit of the NDR. Our relations with motive forces have positively improved and we now enjoy support in areas where we had begun to lose it. Society is positively responding to the ANC’s commitment to renewal, institutions such as the church, civic formations, business and professional bodies are beginning to develop the positive attitude that they had in the ANC.
The Zondo commission on state capture is one of the decisions taken by the ANC government which demonstrates our seriousness in correcting the wrong-doing that had led to our rapid loss of support. We must support the commission and encourage all those with information that can assist the commission to conclude its work to come forward and present it at the commission. The ANC’s consistent position for all those implicated in wrong-doing to step aside from their positions until their issues are finalised also demonstrates our willingness to renew the organisation and cleanse it from negative elements that have placed the image of the organisation into disrepute.
We are witnessing an end to the investment strike as business is beginning to invest in our country and in the province heeding the call led by the President that South Africa is open to investment.
We need to work harder to ensure that we totally reclaim the movement’s hegemony in all key sites of struggle and terrains of influence. We must expand our influence in areas where we never had footing before and rally all sections of society behind the objectives of the NDR.
National Democratic Revolution in the present moment
Deputy Chairperson, we must continuously assess the theory of our revolution in the context of the global and domestic balance of forces highlighted above.
In his paper titled: revisiting national democratic revolution, Raymond Suttner argued that “even if an idea or a word or a phrase has its origins at a particular place or moment historically, it has to exist as a (revolutionary) theory in specific and changing social terrains.”
We must unpack the meaning of the NDR in our current context and assess whether we are making progress in carrying it out. As stated earlier, the NDR is a programme with the objective to overcome racial oppression, class super-exploitation, and patriarchal relations of power.
Overcoming the legacies of racial oppression in South Africa
The struggle to overcome racial oppression is anchored on three aspects; overcoming national oppression, nation building and national sovereignty. Indeed, the democratic forces in South Africa led by the ANC as a national liberation movement ended national oppression through 1994 decisive political breakthrough. The ANC led a process of reconstruction which led to the adoption of our constitution in 1996 which ensures rights to all South Africa regardless of their race.
However, we must never begin to think that, as explained by former President Thabo Mbeki “the 1994 political victory wiped out our country’s colonial and apartheid socio-economic slate clean.”
This is why our country is still engaged in a struggle for nation building, where South Africa will meaningfully and truly belong to all those who live in it. This will continue to be an ideal as long as we have racialised poverty, unemployment and multidimensional inequality.
The third aspect of the “national” in the NDR is our struggle to achieve national sovereignty, not only in term of borders but also with respect to the socio-economic scale. Indeed, since 1994 we choose our own government free from external influence, we determine our laws which are found in our constitution. However, a lot still needs to be done to ensure that we able to self-determine our policy direction and agree on programmes that are meant to lift our people from the socio-economic hardships without being worried about being downgraded by global rating agencies.
Another important aspect of the “democratic” in the NDR is the democratisation of the South African economy. We need to address the vast socio-economic imbalances in the country by breaking the monopolies and building the cooperative sector. In its current form, our economy is highly untransformed and dominated by finance capital which serves the interests of the few. It for this reason that we resolved on the need for a second more radical phase of the NDR which is premised mainly on radical socio-economic transformation. We must transform the economy to serve the people.
There is no one today who can dispute the fact that our people are suffering from massive exploitation in the hands of labour brokers. Despite government’s efforts to regulate the sector, companies continue to find ways to by-pass the laws and continue with their exploitation. We need to urgently implement our resolution to end outsourcing in the public service in order to ensure that our people have access to job security and decent working conditions.
Overcoming patriarchal relations of power
Comrades, this PEC is convened a day after the international women’s day which was on the 08th March 2019. Our strategic mission as the ANC and our allies is to transform and democratise gender relations in society in favour of overcoming patriarchal relations of power. Women across the globe have suffered the harshest forms of oppression under various modes of society. In South Africa, African women in particular went through what we refer to as triple oppression, in that they suffered from racial oppression, class-super-exploitation and patriarchal relations of power. While both working-class men and women are exploited at the workplace, women are further exploited in the household unit as a result of gender roles defined by patriarchal relations of power.
We have a responsibility to intensify the gender struggle if we are to truly and meaningfully advance the national democratic revolution. As Thomas Sankara explained, “the revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or because of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the triumph of the revolution.”
This means that we can no longer afford to continue paying lip service to the gender struggle. We must ensure that we democratise gender relations in the socio-political front and in the economy. We must put an end to the wage gap between men and women and ensure that those that perform the same or similar work are equitably compensated. Lento maqabane sizoyithetha ide yenzeke.
We condemn in the most strongest possible terms the gender-based violence directed on women in our country. The number of reports that we are receiving on gender-based violence cases in the country and the province are quite shocking and disturbing. This includes allegations of sexual assault and harassment cases which have also been levelled against senior comrades of the ANC. We convey our heartfelt condolences to families who lost loved ones due to these barbaric acts. We must put an end to this social malaise.
As a PEC we must welcome the Gauteng High Court judgement that convicted murderer and serial rapist Lungisani Innocent Mdlolo and sentenced him to four life terms and 240 years. We must equally call for the transformation of the justice system so that those with deeper pockets do not get a slap in the face when convicted but get the same punishment for the same offence.
State of the Economy
Deputy Chairperson, it is no doubt that we are carrying out the NDR in a context of a constrained economy. It is tough times both domestically and globally and requires us to take bold decisions that will help us shield our economy in times of crisis.
We must agree with the Minister for Finance that the debt-to-GDP ratio should be managed down to below 40%. We must also agree that one way to turn the economy unto a new trajectory and reduce the long-term risks to South Africa’s public finances is to ensure inclusive growth and job creation; that we must contain budget deficit and stabilizing public debt.
The economy in our province has also not been growing at the desired rate. Our provincial economy will continue to be weak in the long term if we don’t address the backlogs in fixed capital formation especially economic infrastructure that is holding back provincial competitiveness of key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing. It will also continue to be weak if we don’t address the problem of inadequate skilling and investment in human capital and ensure that the few that get skilled don’t move out to other provinces.
Unemployment in the province remains high, with Eastern Cape ranking the highest in terms of the number of young people that are not in employment, education or training. It is for this reason that we are establishing an Isiqalo Youth Fund for business start-ups.
We must improve the performance of our sectors that are key to the growth of the economy in the Eastern Cape. We must invest in the agri-industry, sustainable energy, oceans economy, automotive, light manufacturing and tourism sectors if we want to grow the economy of the province. The investment in these sectors will also require enablers such as finance, critical skill supply, broadband eco-system, export promotion and economic infrastructure.
State of Governance
The PEC continues to provide oversight and leadership over the provincial government in the Eastern Cape. Our Makgotla are used as a platform to inform the government planning processes and direct the work of ANC deployees to the provincial government. We are working together in ensuring that the ANC remains the strategic centre of power as this was a challenge in the past.
Our Provincial Legislature has been one of the Eastern Cape successes with regards to governance in the province. The Taking Legislature To The People programme has proved effective and instrumental in the efforts of bringing government closer to the people. We still have a lot to do however in improving the state and work of constituency offices. These offices are a direct link between the Legislature and communities.
Comrades, we must agree that we are beginning to witness stability in our municipalities, especially where the PEC has intervened. Our municipalities were confronted by various challenges which led 14 of them being declared distressed by the National Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. One of those municipalities is Mnquma, which is recording significant progress with regards to stability and delivering services to communities.
Deputy Chairperson we must congratulate this municipality for having paid their Eskom debt and 90% of their creditors. They have reported to the Legislature and Governance Commission that they anticipate the month of June by when they will pay off their remaining creditors.
They did this through decisive leadership by making sure that they reprioritize their expenditure to be focused on the needs of the people. They stopped the car allowance which cost the municipality millions and was paid to every single worker in the municipality (this includes workers with office day jobs and those that are transported to work).
Unity and Organisational Renewal
Comrades, unity and the renewal of the ANC are the most pressing and urgent tasks for the organisation. We will not compromise on these two, they are non-negotiables.
We will not grow the Eastern Cape and South Africa if we are not united, and certainly we will not advance the NDR if we don’t renew the ANC as an instrument for liberation in the hands of the people.
Let us close ranks maqabane! Let us not allow elements that seek to take us backward (perceived or real) and undermine the progress we have made in uniting the ANC in this province. Instead, we will unite against those elements that seek to sow divisions within our ranks.
We are left with 58 days before the 2019 general elections, this means that we should improve our performance in terms of election work. On social media there has been a cry for the visibility of the organisation with regards to posters, we must address this as it is a genuine concern expressed by members and supporters of the ANC.
One of the good things about elections is that they expose our organisational weaknesses and challenges, they help us identify branches that are not functional which exist purely for conference purposes.
Elections give us an objective account on the state of our structures at all levels of the organisation and expose the abilities and capacity of the individuals that serve in those structures.
We must work together to overcome our organisational challenges, this includes members and structures of the organisation allowing themselves to be led. The mushrooming and proliferation of political parties for purposes to contest elections must wory us as these are acts of selfish opportunists. Let’s put them under microscopic view and stop celebrating them when they come back after elections.
We lost a number of municipalities during the 2016 local government elections, our support declined in the historic ANC bases.
The 2016 local government elections reminded us that our leadership role in society was earned through the struggle, and that we cannot bask in former glory while our actions undermine the values, principles and character of the ANC. The elections showed us that our overwhelming support is not guaranteed, that we will lose it if we are reckless and careless with the authority that has been bestowed to us by the people.
We are called upon to renew our commitment to the struggle for a national democratic society. Let us use this PEC to send a powerful message to members of the ANC and society about the seriousness of our commitment to grow the Eastern Cape and South Africa. We must all work hard to ensure the decisive victory of the ANC in the upcoming elections and we do this not for ourselves but the sake of our people and the revolution.
Let us find encouragement from the words of Dr. Angela Davis who said: “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” We are here today in this boardroom because we cannot accept the high levels of poverty. We joined the ANC because we want to ensure prosperity for all and work hard to redress the imbalances of the past. We identified with those that are fighting for freedom and a better world because we cannot accept the persistent and multidimensional inequality in our country. Let us work together to change those daily realities faced by millions of South Africans.
Thank you very much! “The Struggle continues”