maviviH.E. Mavivi Myakayaka- Manzini

Comrade Tata Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo our legendary icon; is  no more with us, having passed away on 9 June at his home in Windhoek at the age of 93.

His passing is a loss to his family; but also to the people of Namibia – the Land of the Brave, to the people of South Africa and for the Southern African region.

Our departed comrade was born on the 22nd of August 1924 in Omangundu in the Oshikoto Region, in  the Northern part of Namibia- known as Ovamboland during the apartheid colonial occupation.  This area produced many leaders of the Namibian struggle such as the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation President Dr Nujoma , President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Pendukeni Ivula Ithana, Netumbo Nandi – Ndaitwah and many others.

Comrade Toivo as he affectionately known, belonged to the illustrious league of freedom fighters of the generation of Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Dennis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni, Motswaoledi, Govan Mbeki and Wilton Mkwayi.

A veteran of the First World War, he was sentenced to Robben Island for 20 years for which he served 16 years with South African leaders in the isolation section after being charged and sentenced under the notorious Terrorism Act. He spent most of his time in prison with our leaders, which is why we as South Africans claim him as our own.

Tata Toivo was one of the 37 Namibians who stood trial in Pretoria from August 1967 to 1968. They were tortured for months and not allowed any legal representation during their interrogation.

It was only late in their detention that they were allowed legal representation.   In prison he remained committed to his convictions and beliefs which can be summarised in the statement he made in the Pretoria court when he was sentenced.

“We are Namibians and not South African. We do not  now, and will not in the future recognise your right to govern us; to make laws for us in which we have no say; to treat our country as if it were your property and us as if you were our masters”.

He refused to receive visitors or to obey any of the prison orders as he felt he was illegally imprisoned in South Africa under illegal laws as the racist colonial regime was occupying Namibia illegally.

Cde. Toivo cut his political teeth in Namibia working as a farm worker under the racist contact work system and was subjected to harassment when he terminated his contract.

Since he terminated his contract he could not be employed in Namibia and was thus was forced to Johannesburg in the late 1940’s . In 1952 he moved to Cape Town with the aim of pursuing studying as a lawyer.  When this dream could not be released, he ended up working as railway policeman.

In Cape Town he interacted with many Namibians working or studying there.  He also interacted with South Africans who were in the Communist Party, the African National Congress, the Congress of Democrats and the Trade Union Movement.  They came together as Namibians to launch the Ovamboland People’s Congress (OPC) 1957.

The OPC played a crucial role in linking with those who remained in the country to send petitions to the United Nations to highlight the plight of the people of Namibia.

Their activities against the apartheid regime led to Cde. Toivo being expelled from South Africa in 1959 back to Namibia whereupon he settled in Windhoek.  This is where he met with fighters like Cde Sam Nujoma  and formed the organisation which was later named the South West People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and Nujoma was elected as the leader.

He later moved to Ondangwa where he opened a shop using his brother’s name and continued to mobilise for SWAPO.  Cde Toivo was again identified as a troublemaker by the apartheid regime and kept under arrest at the chief’s kraal. In 1967 he was detained and sent to Pretoria.  SWAPO launched the People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) in 1966.

On his release from Robben Island he was sent to the Windhoek prison in 1985 where he was ultimately set free from prison.  Upon his release he left for exile to join SWAPO in Zambia and became the Secretary General of SWAPO.  His presence re-invigorated SWAPO and other liberation movements like us and our struggle was intensified and taken to new heights.  He returned home in 1989 with the SWAPO delegation to engage in talks with the regime based on the UN Resolution 435.  As Secretary General he played an important role in the mobilisation of the people for writing the democratic constitution and for the elections which gave SWAPO an overwhelming majority.

At independence he was appointed Minister of Minerals and Energy, later Minister of Labour and thereafter Minister of Prisons.  He retired from government in 2005.  Cde Toivo continued as an active member of SWAPO, serving in the politburo and central committee, until his passing.  He also served in many other NGO’s like the Red Cross and as patron of many organisations such as the Namibian-Cuba Friendship Association.  His last public engagement was on Tuesday the 6th at the 5th Continental Africa Conference in Solidarity with Cuba hosted by the Namibian Government, which he addressed.

His loss contributes to the closing of that activism of the selfless and dedicated leaders, revolutionaries and freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of our continent and countries.

We shall ever remain indebted to these men and women who influenced many generations to join the struggle for national liberation and social emancipation.   Their legacy will live long.

Comrade Toivo was a rare breed in the political struggles in Southern Africa.  He is one of those world leaders honoured in our country as Companions of President Oliver Tambo.  The legacy comrade Toivo ya Toivo leaves is that of integrity, selflessness, internationalist, dignity, bravery, humility, loyalty, sacrifice, dedication and unifier.  Indeed he ran and finished his race.

Long live the spirit of no surrender of comrade Toivo ya Toivo!

Long live the legacy of Tata Toivo ya Toivo!

Hamba kahle Tata Toivo ya Toivo!

May your revolutionary soul rest in peace!

Long live SWAPO!

Comrade Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini is South Africa’s High Commissioner to Namibia




By Cyril Ramaphosa

This is a critical moment in the development of our young democracy. Our economy is currently under great strain, affected by both global and domestic pressures and by the lasting structural constraints of the apartheid economy.

Our political life is fractious, with public sentiment appearing to be more polarised and public discourse more charged – and more shrill – than at any other time since 1994. There is discord within the democratic movement itself, with different formations adopting opposing positions on key issues of the day.

We must be honest enough to admit the depth of the political, economic and social challenges our country faces. And we must be courageous enough to recognise the domestic and global conditions that give rise to these challenges. But courage also resides in acknowledging the subjective factors – issues that are a consequence of our own action or inaction – that aggravate the situation.

Yet, even amid the great difficulties we now confront, there is progress, there is development and there is hope. Even as we struggle with a low growth rate and come to terms with the impact of recent ratings downgrades, work is being undertaken across the economy to boost investment, expand our productive capacity, improve our skills levels and develop our economic infrastructure.

At the same time, we are witnessing greater collaboration and cooperation between social partners on critical economic issues. There is a growing acceptance among all social partners that it is only through collaboration that we will achieve sustainable growth that increases employment and improves livelihoods.

This has been evident over the course of the last year in the Presidential CEO Initiative. This partnership between government, labour and the country’s leading CEOs arises from a recognition that we need to mobilise the skills, capabilities, energy and, importantly, resources of all sectors of society.

The agreement that was recently reached between social partners on a national minimum wage and labour stability signalled the determination of the social partners to work together to address even the most difficult challenges in our society. From these initiatives, and from several others, we see emerging the seeds of a social compact for inclusive growth.

For more than two decades, South Africans from all walks of life have been working to build a united, equal and caring society from the ruins of racial oppression. But our long walk to freedom is far from over. More than two decades into democracy, the face of poverty remains black and, in particular, African. Many of our people still experience social marginalisation and economic exclusion.

They desire training opportunities and want to work. They want access to land and the means productively to farm it. They want to own factories and start enterprises to employ others. To fail them would be a betrayal of their confidence and a dereliction of our responsibility towards the Constitution.

The call for radical economic transformation seeks to address these fundamental issues. Even as some people may want to deploy the concept to pursue selfish personal objectives – or simply to cast aspersions on the revolutionary credentials of others – radical economic transformation has substance, meaning and relevance. It is a response to the needs of the people.

Radical economic transformation is fundamentally about inclusive growth and building a more equal society. It is about drawing into meaningful economic activity the one-third of working age South Africans who currently languish on the outside of the economic mainstream. It is about a massive skills development drive that prepares young South Africans for the workplace of the future.

Inclusive growth requires fundamentally changing the ownership patterns of the economy, at a faster rate and in a more meaningful manner than at present. It requires that we redistribute agricultural land on a far larger scale and at a far quicker pace, and that we properly equip the new owners of that land to farm it productively and sustainably.

The National Development Plan identified agriculture and agro-processing as significant potential drivers of growth and jobs. With a few key interventions – such as the expansion of irrigated land, higher levels of commercial production and improved support for small-scale agriculture – it estimated that this sector could create up to a million new jobs by 2030.

Radical economic transformation requires also that we leverage our massive infrastructure investment more strategically and more deliberately to build local manufacturing capacity. This should be part of a broader effort to benefit from the massive infrastructure programmes that will take place across the African continent for several decades to come.

It also requires that we create a new generation of black industrialists. Government, through its development finance institutions and other agencies, is putting significant resources into this effort. To date, the Department of Trade and Industry has approved over R1 billion in grant finance to 36 projects undertaken by black-owned and managed businesses.

This programme, once it reaches scale, will both contribute to the reindustrialisation of our economy and help redefine our approach to black economic empowerment. Black business people will no longer be mere minority shareholders in established business. They will be producers and financiers who start their own businesses and run them.

If we are to change ownership patterns, we need to create opportunities for new black entrants into sectors of the economy currently dominated by a few players. We need to use our competition law more directly to lower barriers to entry and prevent anti-competitive behaviour. As we pursue a more inclusive economy, we need also to ensure that communities and employees have a stake through mechanisms like employee share ownership schemes and profit sharing.

We are also working to address the significant challenge of youth unemployment, one of the greatest obstacles to inclusive growth. This includes massively increasing access by young people to vocational training and apprenticeship programmes.

Deracialising the economy means leveraging the procurement spend of the state – and of the private sector – in a fair and transparent manner to promote black and women-owned businesses. Priority must be given to ensuring black ownership in emerging sectors of the economy, such as in natural gas and the ocean’s economy.

Underpinning all these measures is a concerted effort to significantly increase the level of investment in the economy. We need to improve investor confidence by continuing to contain our national debt, preventing further investment downgrades, improving the governance and financial position of state owned enterprises, and maintaining international norms and standards in the regulation of the financial sector.

In truth, the work of radical economic transformation is already underway. What is urgently needed is systematic action by government, in partnership with other social partners, to increase the scale and pace of our interventions. In those areas where we have encountered problems we must move with speed to find innovative ways of resolving them. We need more focus and collaboration. We need to mobilise more resources, use the resources we do have more effectively, and eliminate all forms of wastage and rent-seeking.

We invite all South Africans, including civil society and business, to work with all political leaders to address fundamental differences in a manner that is constructive and that builds a united nation. This is a time to prioritise the cries of the marginalised and the poor through policies and actions that promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth, effective redistributive measures and ethical management of public resources.

On 26 June 1955, the representatives of the people of this country adopted the Freedom Charter, declaring: “We pledge ourselves to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes here set out have been won.” Today, more than half a century later, we must pledge ourselves that we will not compromise on the vision of the Freedom Charter.

We will not compromise on the restoration of the wealth of the country to the people as a whole, on equitable land ownership, on social justice and the pursuit of equality. We will not compromise on our commitment to the values of our Constitution and to the advancement of equal human rights for all. Nor on the goal of gender equality, genuinely infused into everything we do across society.

We will not compromise in our fight against corruption, patronage and rent-seeking. We will not allow the institutions of our state to be captured by families and individuals intent on narrow self-enrichment. Nor will we allow the formations of the democratic movement, our symbols, our history or our policies to be appropriated in pursuit of factional interests or in attempts to hoodwink the public through revolutionary-sounding slogans.

We will continue to work together to build a South Africa which belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and to ensure that the people share in the country’s wealth. In brief, we will continue to pursue a programme of radical economic transformation for shared and inclusive growth.

** Cyril Ramaphosa is the Deputy President of the African National Congress. This is an edited version of an address delivered to the Black Business Council


ednaEdna Molewa

It is not without significance that neither the Constitution nor the rules of the National Assembly provide for a vote of no confidence against a sitting Head of State to be conducted by means of a secret ballot.

Although Section 19 of the Constitution states that citizens have the right to vote by secret ballot, and Section 86 provides for a secret ballot for the appointment of the President (with the procedures therefore elaborately spelled out) it is clear that the lawmakers intended not to be prescriptive with regards to passing a motion of no confidence in the same President.

Considering that any member of the National Assembly has the right to request for such a motion of no confidence to be debated and voted for, it is clear that this was no oversight.

In not being prescriptive, the drafters of our Constitution had due regard to a number of factors.

Firstly, of the gravity of the consequences of such a motion.

Secondly, of the principle of separation of powers.

Thirdly, of the ramifications of conducting such a vote on such an extreme form of censure under a veil of secrecy.

Taking all of the above into consideration, we have a situation where the onus is on the legislature to determine how such a motion will be conducted.

In considering the arguments for and against the use of a secret ballot to pass a vote of no confidence in a President, important questions should be asked about whether such a move is really in the interests of the public, or to serve narrow and short-sighted political ends.

It is paradoxical that those pushing for secret ballot to remove the President in the same breath hold themselves up as advocates of a more transparent and open system of governance.

As some have pointed out, there has perhaps not been proper consideration given to the consequences of ‘letting the genie out of the bottle’.

Today it may be that a secret ballot will be used for the removal of public officials elected by the people.

Tomorrow it may be to pass unsavoury and constitutionally questionable motions under the cloak of darkness.

This is not even to consider the potential for the entry of the nefarious system of cheque-book politics, where the votes of MPs’ can be bought and sold.

It is daunting to consider the resulting paralysis that would ensue as every single one of these secret ballots would be subject to legal scrutiny and end up in the courts.

What we are witnessing its not unprecedented.

Elsewhere, political parties who find themselves on the back-foot have been known to press for secret ballots simply to rid themselves of political opponents.

In pushing for this motion, the political opposition may be unwittingly (one hopes unwittingly) advocating for parliamentarians to be able to conduct their business away from the prying eyes of the public that elected them.

This is a slippery slope towards closed government, and the public should not be fooled.

Persons elected to Parliament are there at the behest of the constituencies they serve, and we should not allow a situation to prevail where MP’s operate in secret.

In the famous words of Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman. The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”

It is highly problematic that the opposition parties involved in the court action are cloaking their shrewd political move in the language of benevolent concern for ANC MP’s.

It is grossly insulting to the men and women representing the African National Congress in Parliament that they should be regarded as mere voting cattle who need the political opposition to ‘protect them’ from censure.

The ANC owes its position to an overwhelming public mandate given to the organization by the electorate, and it would be alarming to say the least if the benches are stacked with representatives with not a backbone amongst them.

In any event, the notion that parliamentarians should somehow be ‘protected’ against voting along party lines is questionable.

South Africa is a multiparty democracy. We don’t vote for individuals in national and municipal elections, but for parties.

It is parties who nominate their candidates and who compile party lists. Our Parliament is representative and comprises the political parties who were voted for by the people.

MP’s are not ‘free agents’ but owe their position to being called to serve their parties.

The ANC has made it clear through our Secretary General that its MP’s will not support this motion of no confidence in the President, so it cannot be that MP’s should be cherry-picking party decisions.

Influential political theorists like John Stuart Mill have held that voting in secret should be an exception rather than a rule, expressing the same concerns echoed by the ANC today: namely that voting is a trust, not a right – and that legislators are carrying out a public duty, not acting in their own personal interests.

Just like they carry out other duties publicly, so they should deliberate and vote publicly.

Mill argued that because of the weight accorded to voting on behalf of the public and in the public interest – secret ballots are problematic because they infer that legislators are acting independently and can thus vote as they are so inclined.

If the public good is the consideration, secrecy undermines accountability to that same public.

Mill wrote in “Considerations of Representative Government”:  “His vote is not a thing in which he has an option; it has no more to do with his personal wishes than the verdict of a juryman.”

If one presumes that the voter is duty bound to the public, and not beholden to his own personal beliefs and interests, there should be no problem in this vote being conducted in public.

Otherwise as Mill notes: “if it belongs to the voter for his own sake, on what ground can we blame him for selling it, or using it to recommend himself to anyone whom it is in his interests to please?”

The ANC has been voted into power in all the successive elections since democracy because the people of this country see it as the only party capable of delivering on its electoral mandate to realize a better life for all.

It follows then that those called upon to serve the ANC and their country in parliament should respect the decisions of the party that put them there.

Not only does it make absolutely no sense that the opposition expects parliamentarians of the ANC to vote against the positions of their own party – it is also duplicitous and hypocritical.

The very ‘conscience’ the opposition seeks from ANC MP’s is a luxury they deny their own public representatives in Parliament.

The EFF, DA and UDM should make public what their own respective constitutions say about ‘renegade’ MP’s.

The DA’s constitution is clear.

“ Section 3.5.1:  A member ceases to be a member of the party when he or she, being a public representative of the party in a legislative body, in any meeting of that legislative body, votes in a manner other than in accordance with a party caucus decision which is consistent with party policy, in that legislative body, or being a single public representative in a caucus votes in a manner inconsistent with the instructions of higher party structures or party policy: save in the case where the party allows a free vote on the issue being voted on, or the caucus has given permission for that member to vote in a particular manner.”

Not only should the DA explain to the public how many of its MP’s have been expelled for not voting along party lines, they should (in the interests of transparency) make public the record of instances where they have held secret ballots on internal party matters.

For all its talk of free political agency, the EFF’s track record on dealing with dissent within its ranks is well-established, with the expulsion of MP’s for speaking out against party leadership widely publicized.

The EFF constitution is even clearer than that of the DA – noting the following: that ‘the individual is subordinate to the organization, that the minority is subordinate to the majority, that the lower level is subordinate to the higher level..”

Most importantly: that ‘the decisions of the upper structures are binding on the lower structures.”

The EFF should also in the interests of transparency make its Code of Conduct for party members public, especially the parts about the consequences for breaking party ranks in voting – and on whether the party even allows secret ballots at all.

Clearly then, what is good for the goose is not good for the gander.

They want the ANC to be civil democrats (which it is) whereas they are Stalinists themselves.

It is regrettable that political parties in South Africa continue to abuse this crucial constitution entitlement aimed at safeguarding our democracy, to score political points.

If one considers just how many of these motions of no confidence have been attempted by the DA, one may conclude it points to an increasing desperation on the part of the political opposition.

Far from being the exception or ‘last resort’ they claim it to be, tabling motions of no confidence has long been the first resort whenever things are not going their way in Parliament.

It points to a paucity of ideas and lack of rigour to deal maturely with the cut and thrust of being in a modern political state.

Having failed in these endless bids, they are now trying to enlist the services of the judiciary as their political hatchet men and women; hopefully the Bench will see through this obvious ruse.

The business of Parliament is not child’s play. It needs men and women of ordinary courage who are able to take forward the aim of advancing South Africa and its people.

We face a huge number of challenges with regards to the delivery of a better life for our people, and it is the expectation of the public that we spend our days, hours and months on the benches acting in their interest.

That MP’s should spend precious hours debating endless motions of no confidence that never succeed, instead of dealing with the real business of Parliament, is a sideshow and distraction. It also conveniently side-steps the critical question of whether our opposition parties have actually delivered on their promises to their constituents.

This application to have a motion of no confidence passed in secret is an attempt to justify cowardice and underhanded behaviour by MP’s. Worse still, the courts are being asked to endorse this duplicity.

It is one of the greatest travesties of modern South Africa that our courts appear increasingly eager to entertain vexatious litigation.

All South Africans who expect (demand, in fact) transparency and accountability of their government should sit up and take notice when attempts are made to justify the intrusion of antidemocratic practices into Parliament, and the use of our courts as a political ping pong ball. Especially – when it is being done so in their name.



luzukoBy Luzuko Buku

The ANC has enough human capital for the complete resolution of its challenges and all it needs is its full utilisation. Interestingly, ever since the letter by Reverend Frank Chikane in 2015 titled ‘Saving the Soul of the ANC’ and the input by Sipho Pityana at the funeral of Mfundisi Makhenkesi Stofile in 2016, there has been a linear view that only veterans and stalwarts can assist in saving the ANC. The subsequent 101 veterans campaign and the Mkhonto WeSizwe ‘Council’ took tune from these organisational renewal propositions and thus cornered themselves into this believe of a singular view for the resolution of our challenges.

During the dawn of democracy many of our comrades who were educated in various countries abroad were employed in the public service, NGOCs, parastatals, business and corporate. Subsequent generations of young black professionals, academics and social activists produced after apartheid also deliberately joined, and or were sent to, these ranks. The logic was that these comrades are occupying these positions in order to contribute to the vision of transforming South Africa and thus creating a better life for all. Some of them were deliberately removed from parliamentary lists and channelled into different career paths.

The ANC’s policy guidelines, Ready to Govern (1992) were more clear on the role that these individuals will have to play on our programme of radically altering the apartheid fault lines. It stated the following about the deployment and role of skilled South Africans:

“Special attention will have to be given to intensive training and the opening up of careers and advancement for those held back by past discrimination. Management in both the public and private sectors will have to be de-racialised so that rapidly and progressively it comes to reflect the skills of the entire population. Equity ownership will also have to be extended so that people from all sections of the population have a stake in the economy and the power to influence economic decisions.”

The guidelines called on the civil service to be opened up so that it becomes truly South African and ‘not an administrative arm of a racial minority.’ The plan was to transform the Judiciary, one of the key symbols of apartheid oppression and repression, into a well a functioning system for the administration of justice for all in the land. The vision was that:

“The bench will be transformed in such a way as to consist of men and women drawn from all sections of South African society. This will be done without interfering with its independence and with a view to ensuring that justice is manifestly seen to be done in a non-racial and non-sexist way and that the wisdom, experience and competent judicial skills of all South Africans are represented” (Ready to Govern, 1992).

A great majority of educated South Africans then openly associated with the vision and programme of the ANC and were not scared of associating themselves with the organisation. Whilst this is still the case, there is now less vigour and enthusiasm from these individuals about our movement. The main motivation for getting a job or starting a business was not only money. These individuals got their zeitgeist from the fact that they were contributing to the overall transformation of South Africa.

They were inadvertently responding to the vision contained in Ready to Govern and the challenges expressed by President Mandela in the Political Report to the 49th Conference of the ANC in 1994 where he said;

Ours was not a planned entry into government. Except for the highest
echelons, we did not have a plan for the deployment of cadres. We were disorganised, and behaved in a manner that could have endangered the revolution.

…Over this period we intensified the task of building a pool of skilled cadres at the same time as we prepared for governance…Many of the cadres who were upgraded in this period are today to be found at various levels in the state. But compared to the actual demand, this programme was woefully inadequate. The challenge therefore remains.

The understanding was that all progressive professionals were to play a key role in the reconstruction of South Africa and academics were also required to be an engine for this success. This is why in the 50th Conference of the ANC in 1997 President Mandela asserted that:

…More generally, we must ensure the growth and development of a modern and  properly prepared intelligentsia to guarantee the success of our historic
objective of the fundamental social transformation of our country and its
reconstruction and development.

The above reflections from the policy guidelines and reflections by the then President indicate that the movement had envisaged a situation where there will be different service streams in the transformation of South Africa; the political, legal, business, civil service, NGOs etc. Whilst the ANC preferred that all areas where its people served be non-partisan, it did not assume that the comrades being deployed in them would eventually be non-active members, except for those institutions where the constitution was explicit.

The need to serve a higher purpose under the ANC as an anchor organisation was basically the understanding even to those cadres who were now not supposed to openly associate with the organisation. Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of this was that these cadres were dumped, forgotten and as time proceeded the political space was closed for them. Whilst this was not a carefully planned exiling of our comrades, our classical organisational structure birthed it and it is important we deeply reflect on it.

The Unintended Consequences of our Structure

Classical progressive organisational theory has the basic assumption that people first have a grievance or an objective as individuals and when trying to express such in public they realise that other individuals share such views. It is this realisation of the commonality of problems that they decide to form an organisational platform whose main task will be to define the scattered grievances into concrete political objectives and then become a vehicle for their obtainment. These objectives are divided into strategic and tactical tasks with the former being long term and the latter being active steps towards the achievement of the end goal. The ANC was formed and it continues to operate within this theoretical understanding albeit with various transformations but little modernisation.

The branches are structured as basic units which galvanise people to express their needs for resolution at the local space and or decision making by higher organs within the organisation’s organogram. This organisational construction assumes a seamless system where information and decision flows accordance with the principle of democratic centralism; maximum participation in discussions, coupled with discipline and unity in implementing the arrived at decisions. The principle of supremacy of the majority view and the decision of higher structures guides the ANC’s day to day operations.

The structure illustrated above is very correct and it was ideal for the liberation movement to prescriptively apply it. Both history and the prevailing reality in the movement demonstrate that this organisational structure and decision process flow can be easily manipulated and relegated to nothingness by those at the higher echelons of an organisation. The slogan of branches being the epicentre of representative internal organisational democracy is soon becoming a shadow of reality and the rallying cry of ‘power to the people’ is consistently being disproved. The reality is that branches choose from a pool of leaders that have already been carefully selected by lobby groups and conferencepreneurs.

The poverty of our people in townships and rural areas has been exploited by those higher up and their right to choose leaders has thus been invalidated. To put it differently, a great majority of our branches are populated by unemployed people whose affiliation is sometimes paid by their councillors or local leaders thus committing themselves in a Faustian Pact which permanently suspends their membership rights. Patronage has engulfed the fundamental democratic traits of our organisation and now members in branches are told who to elect. The ‘raise this to the branch’ refrain which is consistently given to those seeking to question or correct the misdemeanours prevailing is often given with an understanding that the branches are already assembled to close space for particular views.

The Banishing of Comrades

Many of the comrades who were deployed in the bureaucracy, business and parastatals were easily chased away using this organisational structure. As years progressed they became increasingly alienated from their organisation and this correlated with the growing arrogance of the comrades who took the political stream. They were thus exiled in corporate and the movement was robbed of the wealth of knowledge that they possess.

Their re-entry was always prescribed and it mostly happened when they were going to be used for this or that grand scheme of corruption in a municipality, government department or state entity. The entire organisation was thus left as a preserve of the politicians and all other activists who were in government, business, churches and NGOs were made outsiders. The activists tap was closed and whenever people wanted to speak they were referred to the branch, even though all knew the shortcomings of such an organ.

The exiling of comrades continues till this day and one of its manifestations are the do-or-die conferences where if a person fails to be elected they are totally removed from political life and forced into exile. What usually follow is an overt blacklisting of a comrade when seeking employment or when trying to do business. It also makes it easy for comrades to wish all manner of bad things for their organisation as it has been used for his or her banishment.

The reality is that the exiling of these comrades does not take away their ideas or their activist inclinations and that is why they are sometimes targeted by oppositional forces. These are mostly first generational black middle-class individuals who have experienced oppression and as such they are not easily lured into such advances by the opposition.  They have however produced an offspring during their bureaucratic exile years. It is this second generational middle-class youth which is proving to be the base for the opposition and general dissent against the movement. It is this generation, birthed by our comrades, which has been captured by the dinner table discussions of liberals and right wingers, who are understandably, mostly white.

It is important that this thesis is not misinterpreted to mean an existence of angels (the exiled) and demons (the politicians). Whilst the lines are blurred, there exists a clear crop of committed comrades who are still serving in political structures in the organisation and in the government. Similarly, there exists a number of comrades who were sent to business who have returned with riches only to fuel and fund all the wrong ills that have come to characterise our internal organisational body politic. So if you were to use the analogy of angels and demons both will exist on each side of the equation.

The Likely Remedies

It is high time that the movement return these exiles through a radical organisational overhaul which will put content at the centre of decision making. This means that the decision making process flow should be decisively relooked. Clearly the reforms that have been applied over the years with the main being ‘Through the Eye of the Needle’ have not produced the best of results. Whilst the ANC is a voluntary organisation, it needs to be however deliberate in its programme of calling back the exiles into their branches and it should properly open space for these comrades to properly participate in its activities.

The ANC needs to further restructure the branch in a manner that responds to the prevalence of patronage politics. It might be important for the organisation to, for instance, have quotas for a broad representation in its branches and overall structures. The representation of workers, church, professionals, NGOs, the unemployed etc. should be included as a provision in the same way that gender is recognised. That this wide arena of groups should be represented should not be only treated as a principle but it should be constitutionalised.   This should additionally include the creation of provisions for geographic spread and representation of different national groups.

The usual rebuttal of the above proposal will be that it is undemocratic and too prescriptive. The reality however is that we have been able to achieve this in the implementation of the gender requirements and members thus express their democratic wishes knowing that 50 percent or more of a structure should be female comrades.  The second rebutting point would be that this proposal alone will not eliminate the patronage networks as factional groups can carefully select people to be elected in this broadly representative form. It is important to understand that whilst this is likely to be the case, the life of an organisational structure will be more fluid and dynamic with this broad representation. This will therefore be a necessary addition to other broad measures that the organisation will have to undertake.

Luzuko Buku is a former SASCO General Secretary and ANC Member


lmaileLebogang Maile

June 16, signalled a decisive epoch in struggle history and captured the unique role played by our youth in the struggle for national liberation and re-building of a new South Africa. It is now an accepted ritual that every year on June 16, various social forces or groupings pay tribute to the class of 1976, either by visiting the iconic graveyard of Hector Peterson in Soweto, to bemoan the current state of the youth or by holding commemorative events, to reminisce and recount the tragic events of June 16, 1976.

What has not been repeatedly told is the fact that those who are scholars of history or engaged in research work, have consistently argued that the Soweto Students’ Uprising of June 16, owes it roots or origins to the 1973 Durban Strike. By highlighting this, one is not trying to misappropriate history, but merely discerning and rummaging through the historical facts in order to connect the dots. One of the principal leaders of the Durban Strike was celebrated trade unionist and Communist martyr Johannes Nkosi. This heroic strike mainly by black African workers led to the re-birth of progressive, radical and militant trade union activism in South Africa, which in turn influenced the heroic youth of 1976. The bravery of the youth of 1976, led to the swelling of the ranks of the liberation movements in exile, bringing fresh vigour and adding extra tempo to our historical struggle for national liberation and people’s power.

It is not a coincidence of history that the student-worker axis in the early ‘80’s rejuvenated progressive politics and brought a breath of fresh air, which led to the formation of worker’s trade union centre, Cosatu, and the United Democratic Front (UDF). It was through this organic axis and power from below, that our struggle was renewed and the world paid attention to the struggle being waged by the people of South Africa for a new order. The images of the then jailed leader Nelson Mandela and decorated symbols of black, green and gold of the ANC, where increasingly profiled and those involved in activism associated themselves openly with the liberation movement, as led by the ANC. This worker-student axis was a vital cog in rendering SA ‘ungovernable’ as a response to a call made by the then exiled leader of the ANC, President Oliver Tambo.

As a fight back strategy and because of the unwillingness by PW Botha’s regime to relinquish power to the majority, a State of Emergency, was declared. A significant number of activists were detained without trial; police brutality escalated; others disappeared without being tracked by their families; others were killed and buried in unmarked graves. But the resilience and steadfastness of the youth brought hope to the oppressed people of South Africa.

It is not surprising that the heroic victory of MPLA/MK joint forces against the then Apartheid SA Defense Force, at the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, marked a watershed moment, which heightened the revolutionary seizure of power by the ANC in 1994. Not de-linked from this historical fact, the dastardly assassination of Chris Hani, forced the regime to concede defeat, even though his tragic killing was meant to plunge the country into a civil war. From Boipatong (Sedibeng) to eMbumbulu (South of Durban), the youth was armed and ready to avenge Hani’s death. He occupied a special place of pride, commanded respect and was an exemplary figure amongst the vast majority of the working class and poor youth.

The fighting youth of our country still has some deep scars and unhealed wounds, since it was at the receiving end of political violence that marred our country in the late 1990’s, during the negotiation period, towards the transition to a new and democratic South Africa. A number of youth activists and promising jewels for a new order lost their lives in violent skirmishes between pro-ANC/IFP and anti-ANC/IFP groupings, notably in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. At some point, certain areas were regarded as “no-go” areas due to bloodied political rivalry that existed at the time between the ANC and IFP.

Since the advent of our negotiated political settlement of 1994, the nascent democratic state, as led by the African National Congress (ANC), declared June 16 to be a paid-public holiday, in honour and remembrance of those who perished on the day, and subsequently to recognise different generations of youth who have left an indelible mark in history books and played an heroic role in the struggle for a new South Africa.

Of particular significance, since 1994, there has been a growing layer of youth drawn from sections of a rapidly upwardly mobile black middle class and an emerging section of the black capitalist class. Unlike the 1976 youth, that was united to fight the oppressive and old system of Apartheid, the new democratic conditions, have brought various aspirations and interests for the youth of today. These aspirations and interests find expression in social and economic standing; those youth from a middle class or capitalist background have greater opportunities, such as a better life; access to quality education, health and they are easily absorbed in the job market, whereas, the youth from a working class and poor background are confronted by harsh realities, as a result of inferior education; a collapsing public health-care system; poverty and underdevelopment.

In South Africa today, 48% of the youth between the ages of 15-34, are unemployed, amidst the persisting challenges of racialised poverty, deepening inequality and an escalating unemployment rate. What is more concerning, since the economic meltdown or financial crisis of 2008 up to 2015; the number of youth that are too discouraged to search for employment has increased by a staggering 8%. Accompanying this ugly reality is an economy that is shedding massive jobs in the mining and manufacturing sectors. Equally, those lucky to be employed, are seized with the socio-economic burden having a responsibility to feed and take care of the large army that is ravaged by hunger and poverty, mainly in working class and poor households.

Even though significant advances have been made by our democratic state to improve the lives of young people and accord them a better future, our stubborn economy’s inability to create much needed jobs for the youth continues to be a big challenge. It is within this context that the youth of today, must heed our icon President Nelson Mandela’s words when he said “to the youth of today, I have a wish to make: Be the script writers of your destiny and feature yourselves as stars that showed the way towards a brighter future”. This calls on the youth of today not only to be “script writers of their destiny”, but they must also be engaged in struggles for the attainment of the goals of the Freedom Charter, as a “way towards a brighter future”.

It is an undeniable fact that the future of our country’s youth lies in the implementation of the Freedom Charter by our democratic state. As dictated in the Freedom Charter, the breaking down of monopoly industries in strategic sectors in order to allow greater participation and ownership by the black majority; provision of free higher education; and redistribution of land, can significantly lead towards creation of decent jobs and an end to economic exclusion and marginalisation of the youth. This requires the youth to organise itself, as a critical and leading voice in society, and forcefully push for a policy shift and introduction of progressive reforms that advance the key demands of the Freedom Charter.

As one astute thinker and revolutionary figure Frantz Fanon once wrote; “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it”. Just like the generation of 1976 which had rightfully “discovered its mission”, and fought gallantly against a system that was declared a crime against humanity – Apartheid, the current generation has a revolutionary obligation and duty to “discover its mission, fulfil it, or betray it”. History is on the side of the youth!

• Lebogang Maile is the MEC of Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development (Gauteng); ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) member in Gauteng. He writes in his personal capacity.


jduarteDespite tough economic conditions at home and abroad, government has invested over R1 trillion in critical infrastructure projects that are changing the landscape of this country, writes JESSIE DUARTE

MORE South Africans today have access to running water, electricity, homes, access to public schools, state-run clinics and hospitals than ever before. Much has been accomplished for a broader section of our population during the past two decades and the government is fully aware that much more still needs to be done to ensure that, especially the poorest of the poor, have an improved quality of life.

The South African government through various programmes and initiatives, whether in the short-, medium- or long-term, will continue to push through its mandate of a developmental state by spending money to uplift its people. According to the South African Reserve Bank, government spending increased to R632bn in the first quarter of 2016, up from R631bn in the fourth quarter of 2015. Further data also revealed that government spending averaged R304bn from 1960 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of R632bn in the first quarter of 2016 and a record low of R66bn in the first quarter of 1960. Also, government and public agencies invested more than R1 trillion in infrastructure between 2009 and 2014.

The investments were in energy, road, rail, ports, public transport, bulk water and sanitation, hospitals, basic and higher education infrastructure and projects such as the Square Kilometre Array and Meerkat telescopes.

Some clear successes through the government’s strategic integrated projects since 2012 included:

  • Broadband Infraco invested in an international undersea cable, western Africa cable system linking South Africa and Europe and providing the state with the ability to provide broadband infrastructure to national projects such as the Square Kilometre Array.
  • The partial impoundment for the De Hoop Dam which supplies water for domestic and mining use in the Greater Sekhukhune, Waterberg and Capricorn district municipalities. A total of 2.3 million people in the domestic sector will benefit from this project.
  • The Dwarsloop-Acornhoek steel pipeline which supplies water to nine rural communities in the Bushbuckridge local municipality.
  • The 675km of electricity transmission lines that were laid in 2013 is the most in more than 20 years.

It has been pointed out in the budget this year that all our metropolitan municipalities are undertaking a portfolio of catalytic, integrated urban development projects that will lead the way in reshaping our cities:

  • In eThekwini, the Cornubia mixed development node will yield 25000 housing units, while more than R13bn in private sector investment in the nearby Dube Trade Port has been identified. A R30bn inner city regeneration programme is under way.
  • In Ekurhuleni, development along the corridor linking Tembisa to Kempton Park has been prioritised.
  • Cape Town has adopted a transit-orientated development strategy including mixed-use development of the Bellville transport interchange, upgrade of the Phillipi East station precinct and the redevelopment of the Athlone power station.
  • In Mangaung, the airport development node is under construction and 8 500 affordable housing units will be built in and around the inner city of Bloemfontein.
  • In Johannesburg, there is further progress with the corridors of freedom linking Soweto, Alexandra, Sandton and the CBD. This includes the new bridges that can be seen on the M1. We have also seen substantial investment in township precincts in response to the neighbourhood development partnership grant where 190 projects have been completed and a further 55 are in construction.
  • In the Joubertina/Alabama hub in Matlosana, for example, an NDP investment in transport and health facilities has been accompanied by commercial investment commitments of about R155m.
  • In the Solomon Mahlangu node in Tshwane, which serves more than 500000 people, a R1bn public investment in roads, parks and trading facilities is expected to leverage R4bn in private investment. While it has been documented, it is well worth reminding ourselves of these projects.

As mentioned earlier, much still needs to be done and the South African government continues to take a long-term view, underpinned by the development goals as set out in the National Development Plan which, among others, seeks to transform the economy. It is perhaps necessary to remind ourselves that tough economic times, at home and abroad bring their own challenges and opportunities so growth forecasts and government spending are adjusted accordingly.

As was reflected in the past few years’ budgets, the government will seek to address public sector infrastructure bottlenecks through reform and capacity building, with capital expenditure by the public sector projected at just over R865bn in the next three years. The government recognises and has never been averse to the reality that it cannot address South Africa’s economic and development challenges alone. The government intends to and indeed has in the recent past, markedly increased its engagement and collaboration with business, labour and civil society to bolster the resilience of the economy.

The government will continue to drive its partnership with the private sector to co-invest in infrastructure and skills development. After all, the government’s primary objective is the well-being of its citizenry. Investments in additional power-generating capacity and independent power producers will increase electricity supply and improve reliability. The government will always use the people’s satisfaction or otherwise as a true yardstick of how far we have come.

Duarte is Deputy Secretary General of the ANC

This article first appeared in Real Politik


dmakhura29 March 2017, West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg

Programme Director, Minister Derek Hanekom;
Comrade Barbara Hogan and the Kathrada Family;
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa;
President Thabo Mbeki and President Kgalema Motlanthe;
Stalwarts and Veterans of our Liberation Struggle;
The Leadership of the African National Congress and the Alliance;
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers:
Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
MECs and Executive Mayors;
Leaders of all Political Parties here present;
Religious Leaders and Representatives of Civil Society;
Comrades and Compatriots;
Fellow Mourners:

I would like to welcome you all to the Heroes’ Acre at West Park Cemetery and to our province, on behalf of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, the people and government of Gauteng province.

We have gathered here today to bid our fond and final farewell to Comrade Ahmed Kathrada, a man whose activism has been a consistent feature of the struggle for liberation and fundamental transformation of South Africa over the past seventy five years.

Uncle Kathy was essentially part of the team that shaped the ANC’s political strategy and tactics for every epoch of our struggle since the late 1940s. He was both a deep thinker and a man of action.

He came from a generation described by Anton Lembede (in the 1940s) as “young men and women of high moral stamina and integrity; of courage, vision and stoical discipline”.

Comrade Kathy was part of that special generation of South Africans who devoted their lives stoically, faithfully and single-mindedly to one mission: freedom in their lifetime.

Comrades and Compatriots, we are here to celebrate Uncle Kathy’s rich life of purpose and selfless service to humanity. We celebrate the life and legacy of a man who deployed his humility, intellectual wit and disarming sense of humor effectively to marshal people behind the vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, united, democratic and prosperous society.

We are here today to pay our last respects to a man who inspired our nation by force of example; a true revolutionary who lived a life underpinned by compassion, humility, justice, equality and respect for human dignity.

As we celebrate his life, we cannot hide the fact that we are grief-stricken. We grieve not because of the tragedy of death itself. We know that death is part of life.

We grieve because his powerful but gentle presence on earth enriched so many of our own personal and political lives.

We grieve because his humility and accessibility helped to bridge the gap between different generations in the movement and in society.

We grieve because his work in promoting non-racialism was unfolding at a time when our country needs a more consistent and determined effort to build social cohesion and nation-building on the basis of genuine equality and social justice.

We grieve because his departure leaves our national life much poorer without him. Although death has tried to silence his voice, we know he still speaks loud and clear about what he stands for and what he rejects.

As we grieve, we celebrate the fact that throughout his entire life, Uncle Kathy was never silent on matters of national importance. Even as he lies here today in his coffin, he refuses to be silent.

As Martin Luther King Jr opined, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal” and that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent on things that matter”.

I want to give a special word of warm welcome to the veterans and stalwarts of South Africa’s liberation struggle – the voice of reason; the consciences of our movement; the guardians of our non-racial and non-sexist traditions; the moral compasses of our nation.

I wish to thank all the stalwarts and veterans who are here and those at home. We salute you. We honour you for your life of selfless service and the sterling sacrifices you made so that South Africa can free and democratic society. You must continue to speak out and draw our attention to the mistakes we are committing in the course of our work.

As leaders, we must have the humility to listen to the voice of the stalwarts and veterans. We must be angered by anyone who insults our stalwarts and veterans. They represent the monumental honour, dignity and integrity of the liberation struggle, the priceless pride of our people and the conscience of our nation.

I urge the veterans and stalwarts to continue make their voices heard on the problems of our nation and our continent and be bold in what to do about them. They cannot be silent.

As we bid farewell to Cde Kathy, let’s rededicate ourselves to the vision espoused in the Freedom Charter and in the Constitution of our democratic Republic and conduct ourselves in accordance with the values and principles thereof.

Farewell Cde Kathy! The struggle continues!


kmotlanthe29 March 2017, Westpark Cemetery, Johannesburg

Programme Director;
Comrade Barbara Hogan and the Kathrada Family;
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation;
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa;
The Premier of Gauteng David Makhura;
The National Executive Committee of the ANC;
The Provincial Executive Committee of the ANC;
The Central Committee of the SACP;
Alliance Partners of the ANC;
Members of Parliament;
Distinguished Guests;
Comrades and Friends;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Fellow South Africans:

On a day like this we should not mince words. We should say it like it is. We are pained, saddened and sorrowful. We are a nation in mourning. Isithwalandwe Seaparankwe, Ahmed Kathrada, one of our most revered national leaders, has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Therefore let me express our deepest condolences to comrade Barbara Hogan and the Kathrada family, as well as his comrades and friends.

Today is the day on which we close the eyes of comrade Ahmed Kathrada, permanently; because during his lifetime he opened ours for ever and saved us from the blindness of the heart.

Along with countless men and women of a higher order of consciousness with whom he cast his lot in pursuance of deep ideals, comrade Kathy helped unleash human possibilities.

Warts and all, post-apartheid South Africa is an attestation of such human possibility comrade Kathy and his generation and those before him dared to imagine.

In this subversive act of opening our eyes he made us believe in our inherent ability to create a totally new social reality.

Driven by these ideals derived from human fellowship, his subversive cast of mind succeeded in heralding a vision for a state of being that would redefine human imagination not only on the southern tip of the continent of Africa but on a global scale.

The anti-apartheid struggle redefined the very notion of being human, challenging the idea of racial hierarchy historically steeped in the ethos of European Enlightenment.

Against the excesses of European self-consciousness that defined itself normatively and the rest as the other comrade Kathy and a legion of his comrades refused to conform to this imposed norm and therefore canonised the historical period in which they lived.

On a scale of history this was indeed re-imagining human possibilities…

Comrade Kathy never doubted for a moment even during his twenty six years behind bars that this shared historical imagination would generate a new order of being for the downtrodden masses reeling under a racist yoke.

His frame of vision, which invested his being with elevated meaning, may very well have been articulated by the poet Henry van Dyke’s imperishable words that:

‘There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind (sic) a little higher.’

After snatching Nelson Mandela and many others of his generation before him, the unaccountable hand of mortality has struck once again, snuffing out the life of one of our own and in the process leaving us all poorer for it.

When mortality asserts itself, it does so without due regard to human emotion.

Those wedded to the African metaphysics would be forgiven for attributing comrade Kathy’s departure to otherworldly conspiracy among those of his comrades who have pre-deceased him and for whom existence in the other dimension could not continue without him among their number.

Those revolutionaries who have transitioned to the ages include Abdullah Abdurahman, Sol Plaatje, Lillian Ngoyi, Bram Fischer, Helen Joseph, Dullar Omar, Nelson Mandela, Kader Asmal, Walter Sisulu, Harold Wolpe, Oliver Tambo, Elias Motsoaledi, Arthur Goldreich, Joe Slovo, Moses Kotane, Monty Naicker, Moses Mabhida, Amina Cachalia, Ruth First, Ahmed Timol, Raymond Mhlaba, JB Marks, Govan Mbeki, Yusuf Dadoo, Solomon Mahlangu and many more.

All these revolutionaries shared a common vision with him; a vision steeped in a transcendent notion of human possibility.

It may very well be that they felt incomplete without his diligence, his contagious banter, his humility, and his ability to exude human fellowship.

After eighty seven years of exemplary life, comrade Ahmed Kathrada has succumbed to mortality, as did all these comrades before him, as will all of us, when our hour strikes.

And so it is that during moments like this, the fragility of the human condition whips up feelings of hurt, sorrow, grief and pain in all of us whom he leaves behind.

Yet we may choose to look at things on the bright side. If we did, we would realise that such a life as that of comrade Kathy is worth celebrating.

A sense of fortitude would council to offset the pain of his mortality with the immortality of his legacy. What he and his political organisation, the ANC, stood for, has for ever enriched human experience.

I would say we should take comfort from the immortality of the idea that defined his social existence, the idea of freedom.

While in one fell swoop mortality has blown off his life, his vision will always remain etched in historical memory.

Each day of the enjoyment of freedom for all of us is the ultimate expression of gratitude to comrade Kathy and all those who like him fought to a standstill against human oppression articulated in the discourse of racialization.

His legacy finds voluble expression in the centrality of the idea that his life radiated; the idea that we have the ability to create a new form of life.

A new form of life anchored on unity, democracy, non-racialism, non-sexism and justice.

These principles, which comrade Kathy lived for all his life, were not just hollow statements.

They are foundational to a new form of life.

It would be disingenuous to pay tribute to the life of comrade Ahmed Kathrada and pretend that he was not deeply disturbed by the current post-apartheid failure of politics.

In this regard we need not put words into his mouth post facto or post-humously; since, true to his consistent principles, he penned a public letter to the President of our country in which he gave vent to his views about the state in which our nation finds itself.

In parts his letter reads:

‘I have always maintained a position of not speaking out publicly about any difference I may harbour against my leaders and my organisation, the ANC. I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns.

Today I have decided to break with that tradition. The position of President is one that must at all times unite this country behind a vision and programme that seeks to make tomorrow a better day than today for all South Africans. It is a position that requires the respect of all South Africans, which of course must be earned at all time.’

Comrade Kathy continues:

‘And bluntly, if not arrogantly, in the face of such persistently widespread criticism, condemnation and demand, is it asking too much to express the hope that you will choose the correct way that is gaining momentum, to consider stepping down’.

Three hundred and fifty-four days ago today, comrade Kathrada wrote this letter to which a reply had not been forthcoming. As you are aware his letter went without any formal reply.

I have quoted comrade Kathy at length in this regard to make the point that for better or for worse what he stood for never changed according to the fluidities of history.

He held on to the immutable laws of history in so far as they were prescriptive of what is most desirable for human life.

Comrade Kathy took exception to the current culture of feeding frenzy, moral corruption, societal depravity, political dissolution, the gross and sleaze enveloping human mind that would put to shame even some of the vilest political orders known to human history.

He found current South African political leadership wanting on many fronts that he mentions in his letter and could not hesitate to call for the resignation of the President of the country with whom the buck stops.

Once again, here is to the human possibility! Just when a dispassionate observer could have thought the ravages of age have deprived him of his trademark intellectual vitality, comrade Kathy let rip in his vintage moral mode.

Yet he remained for ever measured, a towering moral icon who would not compromise with anything outside the framework of superior human values.

In this connection, he was once again reaffirming the courage, humility, selflessness and generosity of freedom fighters within the cultural framework of self-reflection.

Indeed a measure of self-reflection is needed if human civilisation is to endure. The ANC itself may disappear off the face of the earth if it fails to embrace the culture of self-reflection from time to time concerning its character and inner soul as a governing party.

Comrade Kathy himself deemed a critique of current democratic government a pre-condition to the sustenance of our democracy.

For him the mainsprings of a cultured politics is the practice of truth-telling; being honest, expressive and unambiguous in public discourse.

Self-reflection means a process of subjective becoming by consciously grappling with objective reality. The process of self-reflection makes and remakes our subjectivity.

Self-reflection amounts to questioning the very basis of the underlying postulates that frame the way we do things.

Without self-reflection human beings degenerate into a depersonalised state of parrotry, conformity and robotics.

In equal measure comrade Kathy was troubled by the noxious climate of racism consuming the soul of our nation.

He established the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation with the central tenet of fighting the monster of racism, driven by the understanding that the onset of April 1994 did not mark the social end of racist practices.

It worth noting that comrade Ahmed Kathrada remained politically engaged with the challenges of his time to the very last minute of his life. He never tired, nor let the fragility of old age stand in his way. He was a redoubtable, diligent and passionate activist for social change and justice; the very metaphor for human agency!

How then do we conclude a requiem to a life well-lived? Perhaps Horatius, the officer of the Roman empire, expressed our current historical experience better when he penned this ode:

‘Happy is the man, and happy he alone, he, who can call today his own, He who, secure within, can say, tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today!’

I thank you


bnzimandeBlade Nzimande, General Secretary of the SACP

29 March 2017

The South African Communist Party stands up today to lower its red banner in honour of this revolutionary stalwart, Cde Ahmed Kathrada, a cadre and leader of our liberation movement, a communist and a principled champion of a non-racial South Africa till the end. We also stand today to give our most heartfelt condolences to his partner, Cde Barbara Hogan and the rest of the Kathrada family, as well as all his comrades and friends in our broader national liberation movement.

To us as the SACP, Cde Kathy has been part of our family for decades. Cde Kathy joined the ranks of the Young Communist League in the 1940s at the tender age of 12 years and his early politicization was through the then Communist Party of South Africa and the Transvaal Indian Congress under the leadership of Dr Yusuf Dadoo, who was later to become the General Secretary and National Chairperson of the SACP.

Cde Kathy was part of a generation that was ahead of its times. At the height of racial oppression, including the victory of the National Party in 1948, it would have seemed easier for the likes of Cde Kathy to mobilise the black oppressed on the basis of anti-white politics and racial chauvinism. But because they were far-sighted their answer to colonial and apartheid racism was a superior goal, that of building non-racialism! Building non-racialism is a task we must never take for granted.

However, Cde Kathy also understood that the struggle for non-racialism is inseperable from the struggle against class exploitation and partriarchy! This is a lesson we have learnt from the likes of Cde Kathy as a younger generation, and must be learnt by future generations. We must also thank Cde Kathy’s generation for having built a giant non-racial organization like the ANC. In honour of Cde Kathy we have a duty to defend and protect this organization at all costs so that it remains true to its mission as a people’s movement. We thank them for their foresight in building and leaving us a Communist Party, a vanguard organization of the working class, allied to the ANC. We must also look after it!

Cde Kathy’s politics was formed through community activism in the passive resistance campaigns and against the so-called Ghetto Act. He was also active in student politics and led the South African delegation to the World Festival of Youth and students in Berlin in 1951. He subsequently worked full time for nine months at the headquarters of the World Federation of Democratic Youth. He was an internationalist and fighter against imperialism from a very young age, who also witnessed the defeat of fascism in Europe and thanks to the Soviet Red Army. He believed strongly that a new world of peace and justice was indeed possible!

Back in South Africa, he was active in the growing co-operation between the ANC and the Indian Congresses. This was a key moment in deepening the non-racial values of our struggle of our struggle in practice and activism. As I said, they were indeed ahead of their times! It is important to remember this history at a time when a parasitic patronage network is today seeking to hide its intentions to loot the state resources behind a veneer of narrow African chauvinism, and monopoly capital seeking to capture our state through the exploitation of the black majority.

After his release from prison in the late 1980s Cde Kathy served in the interim national committee of the ANC, and later elected to the ANC NEC in 1991.

As we say goodbye to Cde Kathy, the SACP also regrets that we never interviewed him in detail about key aspects of the history of the SACP, especially between its reconstitution underground in 1953 till his arrest in 1963. Cde Kathy was not only an encyclopedia of the liberation struggle, but was particularly such an encyclopedia of the history of the SACP between the 1940s and the early 1960s.

Let us remember Cde Kathy for his humbleness, simplicity, sacrifice and love for the African people and the rest of the oppressed of the world. Let us teach the current and future generations about this giant as part of building a new and better South Africa. Cde Kathy leaves us at the time when our movement desperately needs the wisdom of people like him. In the name of Cde Kathy, let us defend the political authority and morality of our movement, for the sake of our country and its future generations!


bmbetheBaleka Mbete

The celebration of the centenary of our countrys great center of knowledge, the University of Fort Hare, is a historic event all South Africans should be proud of. It is our common history that can unite us, and our shared past that give us a sense of collective destiny.


Fort Hare University has not just been part of South Africahistory of struggle but rather the true embodiment of the decolonisation of our country and our minds. 
It was set up in the midst of colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century as an ideological  project to win and colonise our minds. It was set up on the ruins of a colonial military establishment from which the British waged their wars of dispossession against the indigenous people.

 Instead of serving its master, this institution has served the people. Instead of producing subservient servants of the master, this institution became an incubation hub for the generation of a revolutionary intelligentsia,  many of whom would play a leading role in liberation movements  in our country and across the continent.


Today, we pay homage to these leaders whose glorious history was recounted with admiration by all of us during the centenary celebrations. 

 We remember the people of this province who used Fort Hare as a trench in our struggle for our freedom. 

 We will never forget those students who passed through the hostels and lecture halls of this institution to help shape the history of our country. 

 It is from here that Bantu Education was defeated. 

 It is here that the Bantustan system crumbled and fell.

 To be a centenarian is a sign of strength and a function of resilience.  We grow wiser with experience.

 The question begs to be asked – what have we learnt in the hundred years of Fort Hare?


Firstly, that universities can outlive us. They are not just about the present but the future which is yet to become a concrete reality. This challenges us to never allow our universities to collapse under the weight of the present. We must defend them as centres of excellence because their role, contribution and value to society is beyond the Now.

 Secondly, universities are the conscience of the nation. They should speak truth to power, and pursue their independence, through their excellence,  with vigour. But not with violence and destruction 


Finally, the universities must emulate Karl Marx in their commitment to knowledge that is not just for interpreting the world, but also for changing it. In transcending time, standing up as our conscience, universities must transform our country, society, and us as individuals. They must empower us, enlighten us, save us from the burden of ignorance, and teach us to never  feel comfortable with dogma, intolerance,  and extremism.

 In this regard, universities are not standing outside society, pontificating about wisdom and virtue, but are in the midst of things  – in our daily struggles, our sufferings, and dreams as a people. They should therefore stand by us in our collective search and quest for a better South Africa.

 We should measure their success not by their distance from society, but through their transformative impact.


Conversely, as a society, we should allow our universities to play this role by protecting them, and providing them with requisite resources.  No university must be a bush” university in our country. No deserving student must fail to access our higher education sector because of lack of financial resources.

 Universities must occupy their well deserved place in society through the relevance of knowledge that they produce, and the calibre and quality of graduates they contribute to our nation.

 As the legislative sector, we must continue to protect the independence of our universities and ensure that they are adequately resourced. 


 The end of these centenary celebrations is the beginning of another century for Fort Hare.  In the same way that this university has profoundly changed since 1916 when it was founded, the same must be expected in the next hundred years ahead. Fort Hare can endure  and emerge stronger  if it remains relevant and responsive  to societys challenges.  


The end of these celebrations is also 4 months since the beginning of the celebration of another centenary – that of Oliver Reginald Tambo,  one of the illustrious alumni of this University. 


I had the privilege of serving under OR Tambo during my years in exile and after our return in 1990. I can attest that in OR,  Fort Hare produced one of the best cadres  our country has ever known, without a shadow of a doubt the best ANC leader who served under the most difficult times.


If you wanted sharp intellect, he had this in his analytical ability that distinguished him from many of us. If you wanted oratory skills, this he demonstrated in the moving speeches he delivered to call us to action. If you wanted selfless dedication to our people, OR was the best example.  Many of us were touched by him. In strategies and tactics, he excelled. He kept us strong in the most difficult times. He gave us courage when many of us could have succumbed to fear. Under his leadership,  we stood firm and resilient instead of surrendering and giving up.

 Both Fort Hare and OR were born in the years following the founding of South Africa in 1910. Fort Hare is an institution,  Tambo was human like all of us. However,  like Fort Hare, he produced his own graduates,  schooled in the politics of the struggle for liberation. He produced leaders like Fort Hare did, some of whom are at the helm of our country today. 


Fort Hare is his Alma Mater and should join the country in celebrating the centenary of this great South African. You are home to the archives of the liberation movement which contain piles of paper which were generated by his life and the movement he led. You can use these archives to celebrate and learn from his life.
He was once your student. His footprints are somewhere in your lecture halls.  His name can be found in your students residences. He is part of your rich history. He is your icon and part of your iconography. 


His life should interest your students and the entire academic community.  There is so much that our youth can be taught about him. So much has been written about him, yet not enough is fully known about him. You can help us research further and deeper to learn about this great South African. 


 OR Tambo is yours – you must claim him. Fort Hare must be in the lead in the celebration of his centenary.

 We should play our part to ensure that his name unites all of us to work together for a better South Africa.


South Africa is at the cross road over the direction and speed needed to transform our country. The Land Question is still a question begging for an answer.  Our people can no longer wait for the promise of a better life. They want to see a better South Africa in their lifetime. 

 Our economy is yet to undergo  the transformation that OR Tambo  envisaged.  Race and gender remain the basis of the ownership patterns underpinning our economy. 


In many parts of the country our people are in the streets – over the lack of jobs,  Fees Must Fall, land, hunger and many other issues that were the very reason the struggle was waged against white settler colonialism.  

 We are constantly being reminded that A Luta Continua  – the struggle is far from over. But this struggle must unite rather than divide us. Together,  inspired by OR, we must find our way to a better South Africa. 


OR Tambo was the President of the ANC,  our ruling party. He left us a united party. We owe it to our people to continue working together,  united in action.

 He was a cadre par excellence.  We can best emulate him by leading from the front as we combat corruption as a scourge threatening to reverse the gains of our freedom. We must be servants of our people like he was, not leaders with a big chin and cheek.


 We will never stop celebrating the University of Fort Hare for its contribution to our nation and continent.  We are richer today in our intellect as a nation, because Fort Hare gave us the Tambos and many other leaders whose lives we must continue to celebrate. 


This is an extract from a speech given by the National Chairperson of the African National Congress Cde Baleka Mbete at the Closing Ceremony of the UFH Centenary Year