The African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal has recently concluded a very successful Provincial General Council. The Council was honoured by the presence of the President of our movement , other NEC members, branch delegates, the ANC Leagues, the Alliance and other invited guests. Musa Dladla Region in our Province was a commendable host of the PGC and worked hard to make it visible to all that the ANC was gathering there.
I have no doubt in my mind that as we rise from the PGC, we can all agree that we are more wiser than we were when we met two days ago and therefore ready to advance our policy positions as we go to the National Policy Conference.
Emerging from the Provincial General Council is a contingent of cadres and activists prepared to confront perennial challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. As was asserted by the President, the enemy continues to live and fighting irrespective of whether or not we recognized its permanent presence.
We want to state without any hesitation that, today in our country there is a convergence of forces who share a common short goal which is to remove President Jacob Zuma and ANC, but do not share a common objective on what happens in the aftermath.
That’s what makes these forces to be even more dangerous, illogical and unreliable. Placing any trust on them is very serious risk for future of the people and that of generations to come. Therefore, being a member and a cadre of the movement requires people who are constantly engaged in a study of the revolution, factors that influence it and the role of revolutionaries to shape it in the best interests of our revolutionary cause.
Therefore, the journey does not end here as we rise from the PGC. We need to pay sufficient attention to the state of the organisation and avoid temptation of allowing our individual conduct and desire to tarnish the image and standing of the ANC.
As we said at the start of the PGC, the ANC is a movement and the parliament of the people. It exists solely to serve and service the people. It continued existence is dependent on the trust that people continue to bestow on it. As Moses Kotane once said, “the revolution is about the people and the people can be stolen”. Therefore, we must at all times refuse to project the people’s movement, through our conduct and articulations, as a movement that is self-serving.
We should also never fall prey into a fallacy of thinking that the ANC is immune from natural processes that characterizes any society. All societies do not consist of things, but of processes that brings things into and out of being. This is a dialectical relationship between the cause and effects in society.
The ANC came into being as a result of struggles of the people. If, because of our conduct, people come to the determination, wittingly or unwittingly, that their struggles can best be pursued outside the ANC, the ANC will become irrelevant and eventually cease to exist. When the ANC ceases to exist, the gains of the revolution will be reversed and future generations will, correctly, put the entire blame on our shoulders. At that point people will be stolen.
The motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution remains the working class, rural poor, middle strata who stands to benefit from the continuing struggle to build a National Democratic Society. These forces are characterized as Africans in particular and Blacks in general. As a consequence, all our actions must be directed to the liberation of this important segment of society.
As we continue to navigate through the difficult times facing our movement and the revolution, we must never lose hope even in the face complex circumstances and difficult moments. The ANC President, on the first day of the PGC, took us into the memory lane about what it means to be a cadre of the movement.
The articulation by the President is in line with the teachings of Chairman Mao Zendong that “what is correct inevitably develops in the course of struggle with what is wrong. The true, the good and the beautiful always exists by contrast with the false, the evil and the ugly, and grow in struggle with them. As soon as something erroneous is rejected and a particular truth accepted by mankind, new truths begin to struggle with the new errors. Such struggle will never end.”
As we prosecute the people’s struggle under the ever-changing conditions, we must continue to sharpen our tools of analyses so that we are able to distinguish the trees from woods, weed from flagrant flowers and avoid accrediting the relative with the features of the absolute. This we will do and succeed in doing, if we keep the African National Congress deeply rooted among the masses of our people. There must be no difference between the ANC and the masses of our people, both in thinking and articulation of our aspirations.
As we surge forward with a struggle for radical economic transformation, we must fully appreciate the fact that we pursue a struggle under the conditions characterized by antagonistic contradictions at play.
As observed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the communist manifesto “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles…the oppressor and oppressed stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”
While appreciating this fundamental reality, in South African the national question became the primary contradiction to be resolved to attain a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society. This has always been understood not as the postponement of the class struggle but interconnectedness of the class struggle and the resolution of the national question.
Twenty three years into democracy the uninterrupted battle between the contending classes in South Africa is now an open fight. The oppressor is uncomfortable with the project of radical economic transformation which is an immediate agenda and plight for the oppressed class – as represented by the ANC. This is a permanent war which President Jacob Zuma aptly referred to during his address to this Provincial General Council.
Because of this unending and uninterrupted battle, an economic warfare has been unleashed against the ANC and its government – hence our economy has been put into junk status by the rating agencies. We understand this to be an economic warfare because the decisions to downgrade the economy of our country were taken not on the basis of soundness of our economic policies but on political considerations after the President exercised his constitutional prerogative to re-constitute the cabinet.
We are raising these points so that as revolutionaries we are able to distinguish the challenges of our own making and those brought to us by the objective environment, even if they coincide with our own internal subjective dynamics negatively impacting upon the pace of change.
How are we then expected to understand the sudden desire by some in the congress movement to cooperate with the counter-revolution? As revolution teaches us, a conscious of a person is not determined by a function of a mind but by his/her surrounding objective conditions.
Indeed because of the successes of our revolution, there are some in the movement who have recorded rapid growth in life either as a result of policies of the democratic government or were deliberately and purposely co-opted by the White Monopoly Capital so that it appears to be concerned with African people, while the intention is to serve its agenda. It is these comrades who today have sponsored bravery to tell us that there is no white monopoly capital and that the agenda for radical economic transformation is a reckless agenda that will upset the private capital.
The crippling danger of conformism need to be confronted. Clearly, they are those who see nothing wrong with the current economic status quo and they have pick-bagged on subjective challenges to further their own ambitions. For them any change in the structure of the economy represents adventurism or recklessness. In this context, the pursuit of radical economic transformation should simultaneously include fighting corruption. Both resisting Radical Economic Transformation need to be confronted and uprooted from the movement and all spheres of government.
We have decided to labour on this point so that we all have common understanding of the real challenge we are facing and not fall prey to the agenda sold to us by the enemy.
As we move to the policy conference to be held later this week, we must buttress the project of radical economic transformation with decisiveness and policy positions that will wrestle the economy from the hands of the few white males. We need to move with speed to economically empower the majority of our country – the Africans in particular.
Our Political Overview lifted up some key policy proposals that we need to advance and some those have become the resolutions of this Provincial General Council. Among others, the PGC has agreed on the followings:
We are unanimous in our view that there can be no progress without a strong and united African National Congress,
We are firm and unanimous on the importance of land redistribution without compensation,
We are firm and unanimous on the necessity to advance the Radical Economic Transformation,
We are firm on our view that free and quality education up to the first degree is the correct way to lead the skill revolution and build human capital needed for a developmental state,
We are firm on our position that the renewal of the National Liberation Movement is not an option, but a revolutionary imperative for continued survival of the movement,
We are firm and unanimous that as part of strengthening the Head Quarters, the we will advocate, in addition to other NEC members to be fulltime, for an amendment of the constitution to accommodate the existence of two Deputy Secretaries General, one responsible for Monitoring, Evaluation and Research and another one for Organization Building and Campaigns,
We are committing ourselves to rise above parochial provincial interests if any of them compromises the unity of the ANC,
As the PGC, we are unanimous on the principles that should inform the selection and election of leadership. Revolutionaries are not born but constructed by the struggles of our people, not by positions they hold in the revolution. As KwaZulu-Natal we do not subscribe to the notion the election of a Deputy President implies that that comrade is automatically ordained to be a successor to the incumbent. If it was so they would be no need for elections.
In addition to such an unwritten tradition, the leadership election should be driven by the strategic tasks of that moment and the quality of the available pool of leadership, rather than a supposedly natural selection due to the current leadership position. The assertion that a deputy is an inherent successor to the incumbent is devoid of scientific analysis of the tasks of the current phase of NDR and suitability of leadership quality and character to lead the movement in that phase of the struggle.
If this must be a principle position in the movement then it has to be universally applicable rather self-serving and convenience because of conferences. The leadership must be chosen on the strength of its quality and not the position they hold.
I would like to express our revolutionary gratitude to the ANC Branch delegates, RECs, Leagues and Alliance partners for making the Provincial General Council a resounding success. All of us made a profound statement that the unity of the African National Congress is sacrosanct. I know that all of us are committed to ensure that this undertaking does not become an empty statement.
On our collective shoulders lies a heavy obligation to ensure that future generations do not pass a judgement on us as a contingent of activists who betrayed the undertaking we signed upon joining the ANC. Once again, history and reality impose duty on all of us a revolutionary duty to maintain a dynamic contact with the masses of our people. In this, the Year of Oliver Tambo, let us as KwaZulu-Natal deepen the unity of the movement.
The struggle continues!!!
Sihle Zikalala is the Chairperson of the African National Congress in KwaZulu-Natal.