“Building a New Cadre, a Pillar for the Second Phase of the Revolution:…”

“Building a New Cadre, a Pillar for the Second Phase of the Revolution: – Lessons from Madiba”

Today we celebrate the life of Comrade Nelson Mandela who left us last year to join our ancestors after decades of uninterrupted service to our Movement. We commend the Province for organising this forum to reflect on Madiba as the embodiment of the ANC’s value system, and what we must do, together, to build a new cadre for the second phase of the revolution.

Any revolutionary movement needs five things if it is to succeed in its cause:

  • An organisation,
  • A leadership,
  • An ideology,
  • Strategy and tactics,
  • And fifthly,a cadreship who are its blood and soul without which no Movement can grow, let alone survive.

The ANC is a mass movement,a leader in our society,working for change and transformation,for a better South Africa. But the ANC earned this role and stature in the trenches, through the work carried out by generations of its cadres who won the respect and admiration of our people.

ANC cadres are always ready to sacrifice their individual interests for a collective cause.

ANC cadres are a role model.

Each ANC cadre is a leader,an organiser,an agitator,a campaigner,an inspirer.

Without our cadres the ANC would not be the great Movement it is today.

Not all South Africans are ANC members. Yet the vast majority of South Africans vote for and love the ANC because of the trust they have in us. They do so because of your work as ANC cadres in our communities and across different sectors of our society.

ANC cadres are embedded among the people. They breathe the struggle. They preach ANC politics. They live and embody ANC values.

Today we pay tribute to all our cadres, some of whom had to pay the ultimate sacrifice. We remember Comrade OR Tambo. Solomon Mahlangu. Chris Hani. Lilian Ngoyi. Helen Joseph, and thousands and thousands of our heroes and heroines who fell on the road to our freedom and since 1994.

As we do so we must also dedicate ourselves to what these cadres represented and continue to represent in our collective memory.

Our cadres have been under attack from our detractors who do not want the ANC to lead, to be a hegemonic force in our society. We are told that the deployment of ANC cadres to strategic positions is a problem and cause of many of our challenges. This we dispute. ANC cannot delegate its leadership role. ANC cadres are deployed to implement ANC policies that enjoy the support of the majority of our people. ANC cadres must be in the front line of building a national democratic society.

But we are also the first to admit that our cadreship is not homogeneous and immune from challenges that individuals encounter.

April 1994 was a significant turning point for the ANC. We took charge of the post-apartheid state, transformed it in order to turn it into an instrument for building a better South Africa. We look back with admiration at the good story that South Africa has become over the last twenty years. Our cadres were central to this because of the different roles assigned to them by the ANC.

However, access to the state machinery introduced new challenges for us which were not there before 1994. Some of us became Ministers and MECs. Others DGs, MPs and Heads of Departments. These new roles gave us access to the resources of the state. We also became decision-makers in the allocation of tenders and other government contracts. We began to dine with the rich and famous. Some of our cadres also prospered in wealth and opulence.

We were not surprised by these changes and the upward social mobility of many of our cadres because we understood ANC politics. But we were not properly prepared for the impact that such changes would have on us individually and as a collective. Some of us forgot ANC politics and started to think only about themselves. Some of us discovered greed and put it to good use to enrich themselves. We began to alienate ourselves from our people, to create a social distance from those the ANC is supposed to lead. Our structures were also affected, including our method of work and organisational culture.

The challenge of moral decay in our ranks is a threat our Movement cannot ignore. ANC cadres must not be seen as fat-cats happily riding in the gravy train, but as selfless leaders working for a better South Africa.

We declared 1997 – “A Year for Re-Affirming the ANC Cadre”. We said in our January the 8th Statement of that year which was delivered by Comrade Mandela as our President, that:

“The democratic breakthrough of April 1994 must now be decisively consolidated and taken forward. Central to this will be rekindling a sense of a common moral vision, a new patriotism, a collective effort to transform our country. And absolutely central to all of that is the ANC and the re-affirming of the ANC cadre.”

This is true today as it was in 1997. We are two years into the “Decade of the Cadre” that we declared at our 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, because of our acknowledgement that “the neglect of cadre policy is at the centre of most of the current weaknesses and challenges faced by our Movement in the post-1994 era.” We also accepted in Mangaung that “the gradual erosion of the core values of the ANC threatens its continuing existence in the second centenary.”

Therefore, as a collective we must look back at what we have done to implement our conference resolution on cadreship policy and safeguarding our core values. We undertook to

  • Strengthen our political education programme, including the establishment of political educations schools;
  • Create Integrity Commissions across our structures;
  • Enforce our guidelines on lobbying; and
  • Improve our capacity to monitor the conduct of our cadres and enforce our code of conduct.

We said in this Decade we want a cadre that is:

  • Ideologically rooted and schooled in ANC politics,
  • Skilled and competent to undertake assigned tasks,
  • Disciplined,
  • Ethical, and
  • Conscientious.

The second phase of our transition to the national democratic society is both about our style of work and the radical nature of the programmes we must pursue to transform our country. ANC cadreship is central to each of these two components of the second transition. Our style of work is about our cadres – how they operate and perform. The radical programmes that we must implement require cadres who are ideologically strong and with the capacity to think creatively in search of solutions that can take our country forward. We must not be complacent, enjoying our comfort zone. We should resist dogmatism as this can prevent us from thinking outside the box. We are all in the uncharted territory but we must reach our goal of a better South Africa.

If Madiba was with us today he would take lead in identifying the sites of struggle that must receive our attention if we are to move South Africa forward.

He would look at what has been happening in our Parliament over the past few months as a cause for concern because being elected to Parliament is not a license to engage in acts of anarchy but a responsibility and a task, an assignment,given to one by the people through their vote. The onslaught against our Parliament that we have witnessed cannot be tolerated by any nation. Parliament as an organ of people’s power, is charged by our constitution to pass laws and hold the execute accountable. In doing its work, Parliament has values, rules and protocols that all of us who are its members have to honour and respect. Political parties can differ among themselves on political issues but they must all agree on protecting the constitution and the institutions created by it.

It was a deliberate decision on our part to create a system of proportional representation so that each important voice in our country can be heard. But we cannot demand or expect to be heard by banging the tables and behaving disorderly. That’s anarchy,that’s not an expression of democracy. It cannot be that to be heard I must scream and throw stones. It cannot be that to hold each other accountable we must abuse one another,trading insults and the middle finger.

As a nation, we must not allow the defiance and disrespect of the rules and protocols of our Parliament to continue unchallenged. If we do so, we will be failing the memory of President Mandela, the first President in the Democratic South Africa, who taught us that the state, including its legislature,is an instrument in the hands of the people that must be used for the transformation of our country. The legislature must take lead in strengthening and deepening democracy. A chaotic legislature cannot achieve this historic task.

We have to act now, together,united, in defence of our Parliament, and in our condemnation of acts of political barbarism. We must not tolerate the abuse of privileges and immunities enjoyed in Parliament.

Some of us who have been assigned to Parliament have been labelled “dictators” when we put down our foot to say “No, not in our Parliament”. Not in the august house that dismantled apartheid by repealing its draconian laws. Not in the house where Nelson Mandela closed his address to a free South Africa in May 1994 with a declaration: “Let us all get down to work!”. Those elected to Parliament are there to work, to serve.

Comrade Nelson Mandela would see our media as another site of struggle. The media is supposed to communicate, educate and inform. It cannot be used to do the opposite – to mislead and incite our public opinion in a one-sided manner against those who have been democratically elected to positions of responsibility.

To be independent means to be fair and balanced; not to be anti-the democratically elected majority party as a matter of principle. To be objective means to tell the story in an unbiased manner;not to distort and misrepresent facts. To be the 5th Estate comes with responsibility. It is not an opportunity to use media freedom and freedom of speech as a cover for playing opposition politics. I believe that the negativity and pessimism we see in our media today about our country and its leadership is deliberate and informed by regime change agenda. The battle of ideas is on and it is a battle that must be won!

Comrade Madiba will agree with us that the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality is a site of struggle that we must pursue with vigour and rigour if our country is to be fully transformed and totally exorcised of the legacy of apartheid. Our historic responsibility of social and economic transformation that we began in 1994 must be accelerated.

As disciplined cadres and in line with the policies that govern the land, we must address the fundamentals of ownership patterns in our country which continue to be skewed and defined in racial and gender terms. Structural obstacles to the full transformation of our country are known and must be removed. Our economy belongs to all of us, black and white; not to one racial or gender group as it is currently the case. That poverty in our country has a skin colour and gender is a product of our colonial history. This is one of the outstanding challenges in our National Democratic Revolution.

President Mandela will be happy that we have a National Development Plan (the NDP) as our long-term response to the fundamental ills of our society. He will say that this NDP will remain just a plan until it is turned into action and deliverables. ANC structures and cadres must make it their responsibility to ensure that this happens. Parliament has to use its oversight role to ensure the implementation of the NDP.

President Nelson Mandela is no more but lives on.
He is in the buildings and streets named after him.
In the ANC that lives on.
In songs of celebration and the ululation of our people.
In the National Democratic Society we are building every day.
In a better life we are creating.
In every one of us.
In the belief and our conviction that a better South Africa in a better Africa and the world is within reach.

>> Baleka Mbete is the National Chairperson of the African National Congress

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