Political Overview by the ANC EC Chairperson at the ANC Special PEC Meeting

Deputy Chairperson,

NEC Deployees present,

Members of the PEC.

Introduction

Comrades I greet you this morning as we meet for our Special Provincial Executive Committee meeting. Let me also welcome you and thank you for taking time for joining this meeting as part of your organisational responsibilities mandated by branches of the ANC in the Eastern Cape. I wish to also thank NEC members that have joined us who continue to provide guidance as we carry out our work of leading the organisation in this .

Today we remember and celebrate the life and contribution to the liberation struggle of former President of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli, who would’ve turned 122 years old had he still been alive. President Luthuli led the ANC during a very difficult period in the history of South Africa until he was no more. He dedicated his entire life to the fight against colonialism and apartheid till the end. It is for this reason that he was the first black African that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

Although widely known for his support for non-violent means in the fight against apartheid, it was during his term as President that the People’s Army and armed struggle against apartheid was launched; a value many of us leading the ANC today must learn and embrace. A value of appreciating collective wisdom over one’s own persuasions or views.

We remember his selfless service to the people and unwavering commitment to the struggle against oppression which cost him his chieftaincy after he refused to disassociate with the ANC when he publicly displayed his support for the defiance campaign in 1952. Responding to his dismissal from the position of Chief, he stated that:

“It is inevitable that in working for Freedom some individuals and some families must take the lead and suffer: The Road to Freedom is via the CROSS.”

How many of us would be willing to sacrifice their positions for the cause of liberation? How many of us are prepared to suffer for the cause of total emancipation of all humans? These are questions that we must ask ourselves at times, especially when we cling on positions that we hold to an extent that rather the organisation and the people suffer than us not being in those positions.

Let us all honour the sacrifices and hardships that President Luthuli and many other struggle icons suffered fighting for our freedom. Let us do so by carrying on from where they left and emulate their selflessness and commitment to the struggle. Let us work tirelessly for the unity of the organisation, the broader movement and the people as a whole.

Fight against a second surge of Covid-19

Deputy Chairperson, as we meet here today, our province is engaged in the fight against the increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19 which has led to the Eastern Cape being declared as the latest hotspot of the country in terms of Covid-19 cases.

Over the weekend we reported the country’s highest Covid-19 related fatalities as we have noted an increase in the number of deaths during the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the province, especially in our two Metros. This is the same trend with regards to the increase in the number of hospitalisations. Without a doubt we are experiencing second wave in this part of the country and something drastic must be done to wrestle the situation.

Health workers continue to be exposed to the virus as we have seen a rapid increase in the positivity rate amongst healthcare workers in our two metros, requiring increased efforts to protect those that are at the front line of fighting Covid-19, including general workers that are providing support to essential service workers.

Whilst other provinces are concerned about a threat of new Covid-19 cases in January, we are already fearing for December as many people will be coming back to the Eastern Cape for the festive season. This poses a serious threat for our efforts of trying to prevent the spread of the virus and a second surge of new cases. There will be increased mobility, cultural activities and events, and all other social activities that are potential super-spreader events.

We need to make a stern call to all people of our province, including those who will be visiting the Eastern Cape during the festive season to exercise extreme precaution and ensure that we protect our loved ones who are more prone to die from Covid-19. This is the time for increased vigilance and the use of non-pharmaceutical interventions meant at mitigating the spread and impact of Covid-19 on our lives. We call on everyone to continue and increasingly wear their masks, regularly wash their hands with soap or sanitize, practise physical distance at all material times.

All activities that are permitted should be organised with extreme measures of precaution and in the context of the new normal. Culture and traditions evolve and should be responsive to the prevailing material conditions at the time. Therefore, there can be no excuse for anyone to risk their lives and the lives of their loved ones using culture and tradition.

We take this time to wish PEC Member, Cde Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi and Cde Makhaya Twabu and all comrades that have tested positive for Covid-19 a speedy recovery and as well express our heartfelt condolences to all those that have lost loved ones to Covid-19 and other causes. We express our condolences to the family of Comrade Ncediso Captain, who was a dedicated cadre of the movement and worked tirelessly for the interests of the people. Let us also express our condolences to the United Democratic Movement and the family of tata Mncedisi Filtane for their loss.

Let us all work together in this fight as it is clear that we cannot afford another hard lock down which will severely impact the livelihoods of many South Africans, especially the vulnerable and poor communities.

We must further consider the extension of the cut of date of our Regional Conferences and other organisational activities in light of the Covid situation.

As the province we are strengthening our efforts on contact tracing and monitoring and this is requiring maximum cooperation from everyone. All positive cases must be isolated and quarantined in line with the regulation framework. We will further increase our awareness campaigns and improve communication to ensure that we empower our communities to protect themselves against this deadly virus.

We can defeat this virus and those that have tested positive can recovery from it, as we have demonstrated recently since we also tested positive for the virus.

Working together, we can surely defeat Covid-19.

Launch of the 16 days of activism for no violence on women and children:

Comrades, on the 25 November 2020 we co-hosted the launch of the 16 days of activism for no violence on women and children, which is an international campaign that is led by the United Nations.

This year’s campaign is held under the theme: “Women’s Economic Justice for a Non-Violent and Non-Sexist South Africa”, which demonstrates the inter-connectedness of the struggle for women’s economic emancipation and the struggle for a non-violent and non-sexist society. It reaffirms one of the fundamental aspects of our national democratic revolution of democratising gender relations in all aspects of society and the fight to overcome patriarchal relations of power.

In explaining the social basis for the woman question, Alexandra Kollontai argues that:

“Specific economic factors were behind the subordination of women; natural qualities have been a secondary factor in this process. Only the complete disappearance of these factors, only the evolution of those forces which at some point in the past gave rise to the subjection of women, is able in a fundamental way to influence and change their social position. In other words, women can become truly free and equal only in a world organised along new social and productive lines.”

This is why we must go beyond reforms and fundamentally restructure our economy in addressing the economic alienation of women as it was a basis for the subordination of women in favour of the dominance of men in society.

We must however welcome the immediate interventions that are being introduced by government such as support for women-owned SMMEs and cooperatives including but not limited to set asides in government procurement. In the Province, we agreed that we use the funds that were allocated for national days that we couldn’t organise due to covid-19 related restrictions, to support women-owned businesses and other designated groups. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this decision.

We must also welcome the pronouncement by the President, who committed to ensure that women benefit from the land reform programme in order to have more access to land. We must further ensure that women also take advantage of the Africa Free Trade Agreement which is set to commence early next year. We welcome the commitment to improve women’s participation in the economy through the Presidential Employment Stimulus programmes.

These and other interventions will work towards the struggle to overcome the subornation of women and ensure women’s economic justice for a non-violent and non-sexist South Africa.

We need to have an honest discussion on our cultures and practices that perpetuate and reinforce gender inequalities and resultant abuse of women and children at personal and societal level.

Violence on women needs to end, including violence on women and men based on their sexual orientation as this is another serious form of gender-based violence that needs to be confronted.

We must make it clear that there is no space for violence on children in our society. As Kofi Anan correctly put it:

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want that they can grow up in peace.”

This is why we agree with the President that domestic violence is not a private family matter and that no one has the right to violate their children and physically abuse them.

Together, we can end gender-based violence and violence directed on children and the elderly. We commend work done by SAPS in acting swiftly on these cases. All those who commit these heinous crimes must be arrested for prosecution and rot in jail. We want our judicial system to rise to the occasion in complementing good work being done by police. What happened in Xhora where a woman with her 5 children were butchered by a man who suppose to protect them must never happen again. We must mobilize our communities, Traditional leaders, civic organization and NGOs to collaborate and stop these crimes now.

Building a better Africa and a better world:

Comrades, we must be concerned about the continuing conflict in our continent such as the escalating armed violence in Mozambique which has seen more than 2 200 people killed and hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

These conflicts undermine our efforts of regional integration and promoting cooperation within the region and the continent. They will surely have a negative impact on our Free Trade agreement that is set to commence next year.

It is for this reason that we welcome the SADC commitment to jointly respond to the attacks and bring peace in the country. We also call on authorities to intervene in the situation in Ethiopia and resolve the conflict with the restive region of Tigray.

The development of our continent depends solely on us Africans and our ability to find solutions to our own problems. We need to increase trade within our continent and open up our borders for more cooperation and integration. Escalating violence and conflict remains a serious threat to these efforts.

Let me also take this opportunity to join those that are congratulating the election of Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States of America. We must appreciate development that the formal transition has finally begun in order to allow the President-elect to take office. We hope that these developments and the election of Biden will contribute to the ushering in of peace and stability, especially in the Middle East.

Disaster and expected severe thunder storms :

Comrades, our province was again hit hard by severe thunder storms in the past few weeks which left many communities especially in the OR Tambo Region displaced and destitute. Many homes were destroyed and many lives were lost. We once again convey our heartfelt condolences to the families that lost loved ones and pledge our solidarity with the homes that were hard hit by the heavy storms.

We commend the swift action taken by the Inter-Ministerial Team led by Provincial Cogta and other national departments in parts that were hard hit by the disaster. We must be better prepared for the anticipated thunder storms and damaging winds, hail and localized flooding which are expected in areas of Joe Gqabi, Chris Hani, Amathole and OR Tambo. Our hands must be on deck, and our response must be extremely improved and work in line with the principle of the District Development Model.

Preparations for the National General Council :

Comrades, as we prepare for our upcoming National General Council, we must ready our structures and branches in the Province to provide leadership over prevailing circumstances in our organisation.

We must engage thoroughly with the discussion documents that were recently released by the NEC and ensure that the NGC is not turned into a platform to demonstrate strength of any grouping or preferences within the ANC. Only the strength and might of the organisation must be demonstrated and we must come out of the Council with concrete solutions to problems faced by our people.

We must emerge out of the NGC stronger, united and more coherent to carry out the task of leading the national democratic revolution. The Eastern Cape must provide leadership in this regard. ANC enemies believe and desperately convince themselves that ANC is nearing the end, as such, it is important that the we demonstrate their false predictions.

Regional Conferences :

Comrades, as we prepare for the upcoming regional conferences it is important that we repeat our words that we will not allow a single Regional Conference to disrupt the unity and cohesion we have worked so hard for in the Province.

As we mentioned in the previous PEC meeting, our assessment of readiness will not just be organisational or mechanical but will be a thorough organisational and political assessment that will take into account the unity and cohesion of the organisation in the region. We cannot carry on with the situation where branches only become active and vibrant when there are conferences. A branch that exists for conferences is not a branch in good standing, and more often than not, these are branches that bring foreign tendencies to our conferences.

Branches of the ANC must be at the centre of popular struggles in their communities and must champion the interests of the people and address their problems. Branches should hold deployees within their level accountable and do so by holding regular meetings that will be aimed at resolving the challenges confronting our communities. It cannot be acceptable that we have popular struggles that are led outside of the knowledge and leadership of ANC branches yet on paper we have so many branches in good standing.

This is why a political assessment of readiness is important, over and above the organisational assessments conducted through audits and so on.

Building a strong, coherent and united Alliance :

Comrades, building a strong, coherent and united revolutionary alliance is very crucial in our struggle to advance the NDR. We cannot truly and meaningfully transform our country without a coherent and united alliance.

We agree that more efforts need to be made in ensuring that we develop meaningful consensus seeking processes that will take into account positions of each component especially on policy matters. We need to handle the situation faced by the country and economic recovery approaches differently, and in a manner that fosters unity and not breed divisions and hostility. We agree that there shouldn’t be a big brother relationship within the alliance, each alliance partner has a role to play in advancing the NDR and we should demonstrate that in how we handle debates and discussions of taking the country forward and responding to the challenges faced by our nation.

Unity and renewal :

Maqabane, unity and renewal remain our focal priorities in the daily work of the organisation. We have no option than to renew the organisation to be truly an instrument for national liberation and transformation in the hands of the people.

This organisation belongs to its members, but more importantly it belongs to the people of our country and continent. No one must ever claim ownership of this organisation of the toiling masses of our people.

We join this organisation voluntarily and without expectation of material gain or personal benefit. We joined it knowing and understanding its aims and objectives , as well as its principles that guide its work and operation.

One of these principles is democratic centralism which requires that we all accept and abide by decisions of the organisation even though we personally disagree with them or held different views prior to the decisions being taken.

No single individual is above a structure of the organisation that they serve in, irrespective of the position they hold in that structure. The NEC remains that highest decision-making organ of the ANC in between conferences, as such it is utmost ill-discipline and anarchy to disregard its authority and decisions regardless of whatever position one may hold in the organisation. Decisions of the NEC are applicable to all members of the ANC, and for that matter are based and drawn from conference resolutions taken by branches.

Uniting and renewing the organisation requires that we uphold the values and principles that have always defined our organisation. It requires that we place the interests of the organisation and the people ahead of our own self-serving interests and factional motives.

In the process of renewal, we will confront all negative tendencies, including those that are organising themselves as a splinter formation within the organisation and those that vulgarise our conference resolutions on the second and more radical phase of socio-economic transformation for their own narrow selfish interests .

Let us not repeat the same mistakes that led us to lose several municipalities and led to the massive decline in our electoral support in the past elections. Let us not repeat the mistakes that led us to lose our standing in society of being a leader of society.

We are calling on everyone to tirelessly work for the unity and renewal of the ANC as it is crucial for advancing our shared NDR. Let us not reverse the gains we have achieved.

Comrades, the rebuilding the ANC Youth League is central feature of the renewal of the ANC. The current state of the ANC Youth League can no longer be allowed to continue and we hope that the upcoming NEC will resolve the challenges faced by the League. We agree that young people should be at the centre of the renewal of the ANCYL and our role should be limited to providing guidance. The YL belongs to young people and should be rebuilt to champion interests of the youth in society that are currently being led and championed outside the congress movement.

Let us also take this opportunity to congratulate the ANC Women’s League for their continuing campaign on issues that affect women in our society including their relentless fight against the scourge of gender-based violence directed mainly on women and the LGBQTI+ community. We encourage them to continue leading women struggles especially on the economic front.

ANC Victory in by-elections:

Comrades, let us congratulate the PET for the sterling work it did in leading our election campaigns that resulted in our overwhelming victory in the last by-elections throughout the province.

As we celebrate the victory and appreciate the confidence that our people still have in their movement, we must however take seriously the issues that were raised by our people during the various election activities we conducted. Our representatives must serve the people and serve them selflessly without favour or prejudice. We cant continue to hear the same things being said about public representatives when we campaign for victory, as this is an act of taking our people for granted and the support they have for us.

Let us go out and be servants of the people and ensure that we adequately prepare for the upcoming local government elections.

Passing away of Queen Nozamile Sigcawu :

Comrades, let us again express our sadness on the passing away of Her Majesty, Queen Nozamile Sigcawu, wife to the late, His Majesty King Xolilizwe Sigcawu. We mourn her loss and honour her contribution and role that she played in empowering the weak, poor and toiling people of the province.

Conclusion :

Comrades, this Special PEC must pave the way-forward and provide leadership to all our challenges. Let us emerge from this meeting more determined to lead the people of the Eastern Cape out of poverty, unemployment and inequality. The work of developing this province into an enterprising, connected and one where its people reach their full potential lies in this collective. We dare not fail our people.

Once again, you are all welcomed to this Special PEC meeting and hope that we engage fruitfully and constructively in the interests of advancing, deepening and defending our national democratic revolution. Let me also take this opportunity wish all you good and safe festive season under new normal. Take care and be responsible we need in good health for 2021.

Thank you!

Amandla!

 

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