The African National Congress lowers its revolutionary banner in mourning, having learnt of the passing of El Commandante en Jefe Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, a giant amongst revolutionaries, a friend of the African people, Leader of the Cuban Revolution and former President of the Republic of Cuba.

On behalf of all freedom loving peoples of South Africa, the ANC sends its deepest condolences to the people of the great Republic of Cuba.

The ANC collectively mourns with the countless revolutionary movements of the Global South, for whom the legendary leader was a tireless supporter, ally and friend.

It was the great Russian revolutionary Georgi Valentinovich Plekhanov, widely regarded as the founder of Russian Marxism who said in his seminal essay “The Role of the individual in History” – “a great man is not great because his personal qualities give individual features to great historical events, but because he possesses qualities which make him most capable of serving the great social needs of his time”

A true internationalist, El Commandante Fidel Castro’s philosophy was premised on the radical idea that those whom Fanon called ‘the wretched of the earth’ had the right to eat regularly, have quality homes, be granted access to free quality education and quality medical care.

In essence, Castro believed that the poor had a right to lives of dignity. For these ideas and policies, he earned the unabashed hostility from the global neoliberal elites and self-appointed controllers of the world.

The imperialist Western nations, working together with reactionary and racist Cuban elites and their media propagandists correctly saw in him a formidable foe who wanted to end their greed, fragmentation, financial and moral corruption and bullying.

Castro had a true sense of service to his people. He did not outsource his historic responsibility to corporate profiteers. He understood the saying that rapacious capital is not in the business of nation building.

The importance of Castro in the history of the post-colonial world is monumental because he won the real battle of developing a small island against imperialist domination.

Comrade Fidel joins the global pantheon of revolutionary leaders who have passed from this life having left an indelible mark not on just their nation’s history, but the history of the world.

For everyone committed to the ideals of equality, of social justice, of freedom, of the universal brotherhood of man – today is the saddest of days.

We have lost a man who dedicated his life to the betterment of his fellow man, and stood firm in the face of oppression to lead his people to freedom. Under the leadership of Comrade Fidel the living standards of the Cuban people were vastly improved, millions of young Cubans were educated and skilled, illiteracy was eradicated, and not only was public health care improved, but it became the envy of developing countries worldwide. Despite healthcare spending per capita being 1/20th the size of the US, life expectancy at birth in Cuba is about the same as that of the US.

The Cuban revolution was an inspiration to all nations suffering under the anti-imperialist yoke, and under the leadership of Compañero Fidel, the Communist Party of Cuba and the Cuban people were among the strongest supporters of South Africa’s struggle for liberation; lending various forms of material and political support to the liberation forces during the dark days of apartheid.

The life of Compañero Fidel is illustrative of the qualities of exemplary leadership – of putting country before self. In pursuit of the common good, he was undaunted and unafraid in the face of huge forces of resistance. He knew, and said: “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.

We who strive for another world will continue to defend Castro from oppressors of men. We will not forget his love the for downtrodden of his land and world over; his faith in humanity and its potential and hope for a better world which he began to build.

The ANC will not forget you El Commandante and we will keep the spirit of your ideas live, until we are all free. In his memory and honour, the African National Congress  today affirms our unwavering commitment to the struggle for our people’s emancipation, and to supporting the people of Cuba in retaining their right to self-determination at a time when the forces of globalization threaten to derail the gains of the Cuban revolution.

Comrade Castro was a symbol of revolutionary virtue and personal sacrifice and with his life gave full meaning to the spirit of internationalism. He will be sorely missed. We will forever salute this outstanding revolutionary, and make the call as did Che Guevara, Hasta La Victoria Siempre.




 Annually the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) and the ANC-led government, through the Department of Women, run a successful campaign in pursuit of curbing violence on women and children as espoused in the fundamental principles of the movement of a non-violent, non-sexist and a prosperous South Africa.

Since 1998, South Africa embarks on the 16 Days campaign against violence on women and children that commences today, the 25th of November and ends on the10th of December.

The 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence, which marks the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of violence against women, is the Human Rights Day. This period also includes Universal Children’s Day and World AIDS Day respectively. The campaign, therefore, remains an essential tool in creating awareness on the negative impacts of violence on women and children.

The ANCWL has noted that violence against women and children is still rife in South Africa.  This violence against women takes different forms, namely; physical violence in the form of domestic violence, terrible violent crimes such as murder, robbery, rape and assault in the survivor’s homes and in society and the rape culture in institutions of higher learning and schools against young women and girl children.

While the ANC-run government works tirelessly to eradicate inequality and poverty, we note that the terrible brunt on our democracy is the violence of poverty, starvation, humiliation and degradation, especially against women and children. Poverty, inequality and unemployment are conditions under which violence thrives.

According to the 2015/2016 crime statistics released the by Minister of Police, Comrade Nkosinathi Nhleko, earlier in the year, there is a decline in violent crimes but for us, one incident of crime is one too many. The victims of violence are human beings and at the most violence directly and indirectly affects women and children more than it does men.  For instance, violent crimes such as murder destabilises families since children are left as orphans with lifelong psychological scars.  Again, the majority of sexual offenses perpetrators are men than women.

As much as the ANCWL appreciates the gradual decrease in crime against women & children, it is our firm belief that more needs to be done in relation to sex crimes, which includes sexual assault and rape. On sexual violence, statistics indicates that Gauteng had 9510 cases, KZN 8947, Eastern Cape 8797, Western Cape 7130, Limpopo 4369, North-West 4164, Free-State 3928, Mpumalanga 3331 and Northern Cape 1719. In total there were 51895 reported cases. These are not just numbers but there are human being and especially vulnerable women and children behind each and every number.

When we take into consideration the fact that statistics are not an accurate reflection on the number of sexual violent instances because it is only based on reported cases and it is common knowledge that there are survivors who do not report rape and assault cases due to various reasons ranging from safety, economic reasons etc. we, in the ANCWL remain concerned because crime statistics tell us that while we conduct successful campaigns yearly, we need to intensify the fight in curbing the culture of violence against women and children.

As the ANCWL launched the campaign this week, the aim is to mobilise society into acknowledging that violence against women and children is not a government or a criminal justice system problem, but a societal problem, and that failure to view it as such, results in all efforts failing to eradicate this scourge in our communities.

Violence against women and children is one of the most egregious and persistent violations of human rights, affecting victims across race, gender and age. This societal ill is a symptom of gender inequalities which are pervasive socially, in politics and in the economic mainstream. Women perform 66% of the work worldwide and produce 60% of its food, yet they earn 10% of the income and own 1% world’s property.

The ANCWL is adamant that radical economic transformation of women will curb violence against women and children. Gender gaps in the economic mainstream need to be tackled with vigour and the urgency it deserves as economically disempowered women are vulnerable to gender based violence.  Women need to be economically empowered to gain their confidence and independence respectively.

As a country we need to focus our energies on strategies for empowering women economically to afford them greater autonomy in securing livelihoods through traditional employment and self-employment.  Women empowerment has proven to yield great results in families and society at large.

Women cannot stand in the side-lines and watch the gains of our democracy regress. We, being in majority in country’s population, will continue to take up our role to influence, mobilise and fight for economic emancipation of women thus curbing violent crimes against women and children. We must move together towards a violence free South Africa.

The ANCWL calls on men, young men and boys, in all their formations and in society at large to join the fight against violence on women and children. While the campaign is marked for only 16 days, the deeply entrenched scourge dictates that everyday becomes a day to make progress our fight to emancipate, first and foremost women economically and thereby curbing gender based violence perpetuated mainly by inequality and poverty.

It is the responsibility of all members of our society to ensure that the rights of women are respected as equal citizens. That responsibility cannot be relegated to women alone.




 Technological innovation is a key component of the 4th Industrial Revolution, as noted by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their analysis paper published earlier this year. The scale, scope and complexity of this technological revolution, as the WEF notes ‘is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres,’ and ‘will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.’

Successive policy conferences of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), have affirmed the need to harness the power of technological innovation in anticipation of the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is a brave new digital world where billions of people are interconnected: making it possible for them to access information, goods and services like never before.

The delivery of content through this increased interconnectivity is inextricably linked to socio-economic development, increased living standards and financial growth.

And in an age where Knowledge is Power, that interconnectivity can be a key driver of a country’s development goes without saying: for with the ‘democratization’ of the digital space comes the ability for messages and programmes to be delivered to millions of people, whereas in the past it was only a select few.  The digital media experience, through Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is upon us.

Government’s Digital Migration Policy, the result of an extensive policy formulation process driven by the ANC’s led government is being implemented, and promises to fundamentally transform the local broadcasting landscape for the better, in order to meet the needs and aspirations of all South Africans.

DTT will enable all communities to access news and information. It will lead to a new reality where all communities have access to quality programming and exposure to a multiplicity and plurality of voices: and not just the fortunate few.

The ANC has consistently affirmed the need to bring all communities into the knowledge economy, to address a grim legacy of marginalization of whole communities, cultures and ethnic groups on the basis of exclusionary language policies.

In other instances certain cultures were elevated above others in the broadcasting spaces and held up as ‘civilized’ whilst others were either not reflected at all or portrayed through the ugly prism of stereotyping.

The advent of DTT will more than ever open a window into nooks and crannies of South Africa that we have never seen on our screens before: with compelling, localized content production ensuring that our nation is reflected in all its diversity.

Earlier this month we reached a significant milestone with the inaugural Television Broadcasting Analogue Switch-off (ASO).

The implementation of this project will allow us to unleash the endless potential of South Africa’s ICT infrastructure in support of the objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP infrastructure development agenda calls for efficient information platforms that promote economic growth and greater inclusion. It further calls for stronger broadband and telecommunications networks that are affordable to all.

What is often overlooked is radio frequency spectrum.  In simple terms radio frequency spectrum is a limited natural resource available equally in every country to the benefit all of its citizens.

Radio spectrum availability contributes to the unassailable performance of television, internet connectivity, cellular phone and radio astronomy services and creates a conducive environment for competing frequencies to co-exist.

What we have achieved with our switch on is the dream of all countries across the globe “to achieve the broadcasting digital migration implementation process”.

This major step demonstrates the capability of the ANC government to deliver projects of international magnitude.

It is also laying the foundations for the successful implementation of a programme that will benefit communities and various sectors of the economy.

The advent of digital broadcasting will transform and reshape the dominant public narrative: as more people, including those in rural areas, have easy access to mainstream current affairs conversations.

The public broadcaster, the SABC will have scope to offer more informative channels that will expose the youth and women in particular to a range of content from skills acquisition to research and ICT literacy.

The ANC government views Digital Migration as a powerful tool to promote the usage and universal access to information and communication technologies even in rural areas.

The Broadcasting Digital Migration Warriors who have taken us to these heights of connecting households in the five towns in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) should be lauded for having aided in us reaching this milestone.

These five towns are proud beacons of new hope, and should rightly be viewed as the pioneers of this exciting new technology.

Many of these communities are already saying the switch-on has revolutionised their lives.

Through our collective efforts and wisdom, we are determined to ensure that the broadcasting digital migration rollout process becomes a success.

We are now moving to borderline provinces around the country and appeal to all our stakeholders to continue their valuable support.

We share a common vision: to rescue our country and our people from the quicksand of despair to the solid rock of Digital Migration in our lifetime.

We will be announcing the switch-off date for the entire country soon. #GoDigitalZA




Earlier this year, Cde Gwede Mantashe, our Secretary-General said:

In this march for unity, non-racialism and democracy, we stand on the shoulders of giants who over centuries of subjugation and oppression, committed their lives to the building of a South Africa that would be united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous in character. We reaffirm the clarion call made by our people at the Congress of the People in Kliptown in 1955 that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white” and that “our country will never be prosperous or free until all our people live in brotherhood, enjoying equal rights and opportunities.”

Many freedom fighters, young and old, black and white, laid down their lives for the realisation of the vision where in South Africa no man or woman would be discriminated against on the basis of their race, gender or creed.

We live in a world which seems to be becoming more and more intolerant.

Instead of celebrating the fact that we are all different and unique human beings, instead of being united in our diversity as our Constitution champions, many in our country seem to focus on what divide us.

We seem to be a long way away from those proud days as a country where we were acknowledged by the rest of the world as the Rainbow Nation.

For example, the South African Human Rights Commission recently stated that 68% of equality complaints received by the Commission in the period 1st April 2015 to 29th February 2016 have been on the basis of race.

In the recent past we have seen an increasing number of incidents of racism, racial intolerance and attacks on foreign nationals. In June we read that protestors had torched a mosque in Giyani in Limpopo. We have seen a number of violent attacks on gay people and the so-called “corrective rape” of lesbians.

The ANC-led government has responded to many of these evils in a multi-faceted way – for example, we have established Equality Courts which hear, among others, discrimination cases, we have addressed attacks on foreign nationals at the highest level by creating various Inter-Ministerial Committees, as well as structures on the grounds to prevent attacks and assist foreign nationals. We have established a National Task Team which focuses on the prevention of violence and discrimination against at our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

But more needs to be done on the side of legislation, as our current laws do not seem adequate to address forms of hate that our country is now experiencing.

In the latest incident before our Constitutional Court, Jacobus Kruger, an employee of SARS, had racially insulted his manager Abel Mboweni . He said: “I don’t understand how kaffirs think. A kaffir must not tell me what to do.”  Kruger pleaded guilty at a disciplinary hearing and was given a final written warning and placed on suspension without pay. In 2007 this decision was reversed and he was dismissed. Kruger then challenged his dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration and was reinstated. The matter went on to the Labour Court and the Labour Appeal Court and then ended up in the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court upheld SARS’ appeal‚ saying the seriousness of Kruger’s racist remarks cannot be overlooked by the courts in a country still fighting the scourge of racism. The Chief Justice said the use of the word “kaffir” had great historical significance in South Africa and was used previously to dehumanise black people. The Chief Justice says in paragraph 7 of the judgment that: “Calling an African a ‘kaffir’ thirteen years deep into our constitutional democracy, as happened here, does in itself make a compelling case for all of us to begin to engage in an earnest and ongoing dialogue in pursuit of strategies for a lasting solution to the bane of our peaceful co-existence that racism has continued to be. The duty to eradicate racism and its tendencies has become all the more apparent, essential and urgent now. For this reason, nothing that threatens to take us back to our racist past should be glossed over, accommodated or excused.”

President Zuma in his report at the ANC’s National General Council in October last year said:

“Informed by the Freedom Charter and the Constitution, the ANC has succeeded in building a nation which recognises the freedoms, equality and rights of all regardless of race, colour, creed or sexual orientation. Guided by the Constitution we continue to build a society that is totally free of racism. We should thus remain vigilant and fight any attempt to resurrect the demon of racism from the apartheid grave and to glorify a system of government that was declared a crime against humanity.”

A new Bill called the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill has been put out for public comment.   The Bill creates the offences of hate crimes and hate speech and seeks to put in place measures to prevent and combat these offences.

The Bill initially excluded hate speech and the criminalisation of unfair discrimination from the ambit of the Bill because of the sensitivities and complexities involved, particularly in a multi-cultural country such as ours.  It was also argued that there is already a civil remedy for hate speech and unfair discrimination, as contained in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act.

However, the events we have been witnessing recently highlighted the need to include hate speech, as a criminal offence, in the Bill.  The Bill has thus been adapted to include hate speech.

But what, exactly, is a hate crime?

For example, a hate crime is committed if a person commits any recognised offence, and the commission of that offence is motivated by unlawful bias, prejudice or intolerance – so if you throw a brick at a mosque you can be charged with malicious injury to property.  However if the State can prove that you threw the brick because you don’t like Muslims, it becomes a hate crime.

The prejudice, bias or intolerance towards the victim of the hate crime would be because of one or more of the following characteristics, or perceived characteristics, of the victim or the victim’s next of kin: Race, gender, sex, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, religion, belief, culture, language, birth, HIV status, nationality, gender identity, intersex, albinism and occupation or trade.

Nationality, gender identity, HIV status, albinism, intersex and occupation or trade are not mentioned in section 9(3) of our Constitution – but it has been argued that they should be included in the Bill because of the hate crimes that have been committed on the basis of these grounds.

The Bill also criminalises any conduct which amounts to an attempt, incitement, instigation and conspiracy to commit a hate crime.

Clause 5 of the Bill creates an offence of hate speech.  Laws against hate speech serve a dual purpose. It protects the rights of the victim and the target group and also ensures that society is informed that hate speech is neither tolerated, nor sanctioned.

Some commentators have said that the Bill will infringe the right to freedom of speech.  The Bill is not intended to  stifle or suppress freedom of speech or expression.  However, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute and must be balanced, in the same way that all constitutional rights are balanced. No rights are unlimited.

The Bill provides that any person who – by any means whatsoever, in public – intentionally advocates hatred of any other person, or group of persons, based on the same grounds as listed in the Bill in a way that incites others to harm such person or group of persons, whether or not such person or group of persons is harmed, is guilty of the offence of hate speech.

Harm is defined to include damage to property – in other words, economic harm – in addition to physical harm.  It also includes “mental or psychological” harm.  The reference to harm is in line with section 16(2) of the Constitution.

Because of the sensitive and often complex nature of cases of this nature, clause 5 also requires the relevant Provincial Head of Prosecutions to authorise any prosecution in writing.

The opinion is held that the phrase “by any means whatsoever” will include all forms of communication, whether by statement, broadcast, advertisement, SMS, WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, photograph or Instagram, among others. This is particularly important since many of the hate speech incidents stem from social media.

The Bill was approved by Cabinet for public comment on 19 October 2016 and may be accessed on the departmental website:

We are hoping that all our structures, in the branches and the regions, will familiarize themselves with the Bill and let us have their views.

Inkosi Albert Luthuli, in 1961, said – “Our vision has always been that of a non-racial democratic South  Africa  which  upholds  the  rights  of  all  who live in our country to remain there as full citizens with equal rights and responsibilities with all others.”

We all have equal rights, regardless of our race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, culture and so forth. People ask me whether I believe that people who are racist or xenophobic or homophobic (or, for that matter, prejudicial in any other way) will now, all of a sudden, have a change of heart just because there is an anti-hate law on the statute book.

Perhaps some of these people will change, perhaps they will not. But at least government will have sent a message, loud and clear, that discrimination, hate crimes and hate speech will not be tolerated. A society based on hate is not the society we fought for.

Significant progress has been made over two decades of freedom – yet there is still much more to be done.  There are still, currently, challenges that we need to face. South African society remains divided. Many schools, suburbs and places of worship are integrated, but many are not.

This year we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of our Constitution. We must consider whether we have moved towards the goals of that Constitution or whether we are drifting away from it. We are confident that the new Bill will be advance the vision and ideals of our Constitution.




In historical terms, Donald Trump’s victory was actually produced by the same objective circumstances that catapulted Barrack Obama into power eight years ago, despite the fact that the two political figures represent different social values.

The victories of Obama and Trump respectively constitute competing extremes of the same changing global political framework that is conditioned by the historic economic and social impact of the 2008 global recession. South Africa, as I will later argue, has for at least the past twelve years also been impacted upon by these changes in the global political framework.

The few years in the run up to 2008 saw a build up to the Global Recession. The world witnessed a sharp decline in industrial economic productivity, growing inflation, falling real income, rising inequality and disillusionment with the ruling political elites.

The collapse of the global financial system, originating in the United States and continental Europe, cemented the radical critique against global capitalism and its financial tentacles. In that dramatic collapse of the credibility of the global system and how its elites wielded State power, the stage was set for Obama to be born.

He was black, confident and came from outside the political establishment whose existence is embedded in the capitalist power structure responsible for the generalized and growing misery of an increasing number of Americans and everyone else in the world.

In 2008 Obama brought a refreshing idealism of hope: the hour of yes we can! He personified a historic symbolism that promised reconfigured race relations and the forcing of racist ideology to retreat. Americans seemed to vote against the moral bankruptcy of the political elite that drove the world to an economic collapse as well as to vote for an idealism that promised to bind all Americans towards a new humanism.

“We reject the bankers whilst embracing humane approaches to banking and finance,” seemed to be part of the new idealism.

Eight years later, America is battling to extricate itself from the pit of that industrial decline, slow economic growth and a rising costs of living. In similar manner to everywhere else in the world, the American working and middle classes continue experience declining standards of living, rising unemployment, a rising student debt crisis and other economic constraints that threaten social upwards mobility.

This material crisis has successfully eroded the effect of the Obama idealism, as its attractive value system cannot reverse the social desperation that is on the rise.

In that moment of historical crisis, Donald Trump emerges on a campaign platform centered on an imprecise “make America great again” slogan, whose major rallying point is also a promise of ‘change’ against an evidently failing polity that has not successfully transformed the material conditions of the average American person, eight years after Obama’s first election.

Trump advertised as an unapologetic bigot with uncompromising rightwing politics whose fiery rhetoric spells hell for black people, immigrants, the LGBTI community etc. who are blamed for virtually every development challenge of the US. He is a billionaire, confident about his power, comes from outside the political establishment and readily reminds people that he is actually not a politician.

In the scope of the Trump rightwing idealism, “unemployment is the fault of immigrants who steal jobs, therefore build a wall between the US and Mexico! The economy is de-industrializing because the Democrats are too weak to handle big business; I have money I’m not scared of the rich, they’re scared of me! America is not great because it allows gay marriages and abortion! America is losing international respect and therefore economic opportunity because the black President is weak and Hilary is a nasty woman!” The list of irrational but powerful invectives is long.

The decline in economic standards is an objective reality. The failure of the political establishment to respond effectively to these has for sometime bred social fragmentation and a loss of political credibility across the board. In that vacuum Trump effectively mobilized frustrated and bigoted Americans, mostly white, sentiment and channeled it into a powerful, even if unsustainable, electoral agenda.

In ironically similar manner to Obama, Trump, is the rallying point of an entrenched sense of economic, social and political disillusionment. But differently to Obama, in capitalizing on this social discontent, he fashions an idealism that bargains on crude American nationalism whose mainstay is aggression and the mobilization of backward values to justify its existence (homophobia, sexism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, constant insults to the political establishment etc.).

Obama, who benefited from socio-economic and political frustrations in 2008, has been rejected by the same trend because its sense of hope is now articulated towards a different direction. He came out in support of Hilary but couldn’t sidestep the gravitational pull of economic strain. That Hilary Clinton is a woman and thus her victory would have represented a forward march in the evolution of America’s political identity, to effect an erosion of the masculinity of power, was overtaken by a different social anxiety; economic decline that has remobilized bigoted scapegoating.

In similar fashion, the successful referendum for Britain to exit the European Union was canvassed by rightwing political formations like the UKIP and Conservatives like Boris Johnson on anti-immigrant sentiments. Economic decline, rising unemployment and unconvincing responses by leadership set the ball rolling for xenophobic English nationalism to triumph.

Here at home, in the ANC, the dramatic removal of President Mbeki was practically centered on similar patterns at the start of the Global Recession; a democratic transition that was slow in shifting wealth structures to black people, jobless economic growth, stagnant wages and cries of a bullish behavior in how power was being wielded to victimize political opponents by an arrogant political elite etc.

His grand idealism of an African Renaissance came crashing as inequality and industrial economic decline spawned ground resentment. An alienating sense of an elite pact that limited economic transformation to an inner circle of comrades, through BEE deals, accentuated the fallout.

In Polokwane, the stage was set for the election of a people-centered leadership, centered around the figure of President Jacob Zuma, with promises of a ‘leftward shift’ in economic policy and a broadly democratic approach to state power and the alliance. The promise was to transform economic relations in favor of the black working class. A new economic idealism was born.

Ten years later, South Africa is experiencing similar gravitations towards the pre-Polokwane moment. The decline in real income, increasing inequality, rising costs of living and economic power structures centered in white and black elite networks are all persistent. Similar protestations over the abuse of state institutions for political witch hunts, crony-capitalist practices in the state, etc. have once again become central to our discourse.

The difference is that the ANC is heavily being contested as the rallying point of the radical voices that articulate this social discontent and the search for urgent economic reform and transformation of state power.

The increasing radicalization of the black middle class on race relations, rising vigilance around questions of corruption, binding concerns for things like Free Education, the prominence of radical politics and the rise of crude populist figures etc. all of which are now directed against President Zuma, the erstwhile rallying point of similar discontent, also betrays a ten year cycle that has not effectively delivered the economic and political restructuring that was projected.

The instability of the international market has also brought back South Africa’s established white capital into the political arena; looking to control ‘the political economy of their domicile’ since the international market is stuck in perpetual uncertainty.

In a survivalist bid, established capital has re-entered the political arena to scramble for open control of the local political economy. With fragmentation within the ANC, and sustained standoff around Gupta shenanigans providing a moral window, different social and capitalist forces successfully conceal their strategic intentions of exerting long-term control over the political center in the state.

What we say and do in the terrain of economic policy between now and 2019, especially in 2017, will determine whether figures like Julius Malema (on the populist left) and the DA (with its ‘clean-governance’, lean state, free market liberalism) will constitute the rallying point of a new idealism that SA is increasingly searching for.

Our continued fragmentation as the ANC and related inability to collectively generate effective perspectives to respond to this social drift is opening up a window for unimaginable outcomes. A moment of radical shifts in electoral patterns is increasingly consolidating on the basis of the center not holding.

The key challenge for the future lies in our capacity as the ANC to generate a binding idealism built on practical radical economic reform, a believable ethical agenda to transform state power and a convincing ideational leadership on matters of race, gender and other dimensions of social relations.

If the prevailing political polarity persists without the ANC asserting itself as the driving political center on the basis of superior political values that are coherently articulated alongside visible transformation in economic and social relations, then the stage is set for us to be the Hilary Clintons of this country.





The much anticipated Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) that was delivered in Parliament this week by Finance Minister, ComradePravin Gordan, is a good response in the difficult economic and political conditions facing South Africa.

The MTBPS sets out a detailed programme for the next three years that balances inclusive growth, economic transformation and fiscal sustainability. It’s now up to all of us to unite around this programme in order to take the country forward.

The main challenge facing South Africa today is economic growth that grew by only 0.5 per cent this year, this is much too low. This means that we do not have the resources we need to increase service delivery.

In the short term, the key problem is lack of confidence and hope for the future. This is reflected in a contraction in investment, the first time this has happened since the recession. In part this is the result of us scoring “own goals” – hurdles that we have placed in our own path.

South Africa needs to boost confidence that will enable us to know where we are going. We have to build trust with investors, so that they invest resources in our economy. If there is uncertainty about politics and suspicion of government; if our people do not have a strong sense of hope about the future, then investors will not invest in that future.

But, not all is lost, we think the worst is now over and the economy will begin to recover from the next fiscal year. In order for such positive results to happen, we need to act decisively, and with a renewed sense of urgency. If we don’t, the recovery will not be strong enough to begin reducing the high rates of unemployment, especially among the youth, and poverty. What we need as matter of urgency is a programme of action.

There are key programmes that the ANC-led government will need to pay closer attention to in order for the economy to grow.

Concluding the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA)
We are pleased that both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces are moving with speed to conclude amendments to the Act.

Reviving investment in mining and agriculture
Mining has been negatively affected by both commodity prices and our politics. However, currently, there is an improvement in commodity prices while agriculture is still suffering from the effects of the most severe drought the country has witnessed in 22 years.

Building consensus on labor market reforms
This is also one of the areas where tremendous progress has been made on both the minimum wage and the management of strikes

Announcing a framework for private co-investment in infrastructure and state-owned companies

There is a pressing need to restore confidence in the governance of our state owned companies.

Building cohesion in both government and the ANC
Not only must growth be faster, it must also be more inclusive. This means we need growth and economic transformation.

That translates to protecting the sustainability of the fiscus in order to sustain redistribution. Anything that undermines our fiscal institutions is in fact anti-transformation, because these institutions have to deliver taxes taken largely from the wealthy to finance economic social change for the masses of our people.

As the governing political party, we have to focus on labor intensive sectors such as; mining, agriculture and services. It can’t be that in the name of transformation we undermine investment in these sectors, resulting in job losses.

Also, we must act to prevent de-industrialization, and build our manufacturing sector. We have managed to achieve real big exchange rate depreciation, and currently, the country is in a position to be more competitive with its exports. Inclusive growth also means the transformation of the economy, the form of transformation that must achieve real change in the lives of all our people. It must create new patterns of ownership and participation in the economy that reflects the future, not the past.

The ANC must come to a realization that the type of economic transformation currently at play has failed in that it only get contracts for a few black people who happen to have political connections. Rather than being seen as enabling corruption that results from the relationships formed between politicians and the politically connected, we need to open tenders to all. Wealth must be distributed to the masses just not just a few. It must be fair and transparent.

All our people must benefit not a few insiders.

We must applaud Cde Gordan because the MTBPS has achieved a difficult balancing act for fiscal sustainability. We cannot carry on borrowing so much to pay for services. We already owe R2 trillion and its rising fast. We have to stabilize the situation.

But we also have policy aims; the National Health Insurance, a better deal for tertiary students and a better quality early childhood development. All these things are important for the future of our country but we cannot continue to pay for such essential programmes by borrowing. We have to reignite economic growth to generate the resources that are needed the country’s future needs.

The MTBPS was able to propose a measured, balanced fiscal consolidation, but also sustain funding on the most important priorities. There is very fast growth in allocations to universities and students from poor and working class backgrounds. Social protection and health also grow fast in the next three years.

Tax increases, which are painful but necessary, were also proposed for the next fiscal year. We already have a progressive tax system. All we need to do is built on it. But, ultimately reigniting the momentum of growth is the only sustainable alternative to more taxes.




In line with the resolution of the ANC’s 4th National General Council (NGC) of October 2015 that government review South Africa’s membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Cabinet has announced that South Africa has begun the formal process of withdrawal from the Rome Statute.

This is the culmination of a lengthy and extensive consultative process undertaken by the governing party within its structures, as well as engagement with the Assembly of Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute, as well as seeking a common position from the African Union.

It has become necessary to dispel from the outset the assertion that the decision to withdraw from the ICC is ‘sudden’, ‘random’ and lacks merit.

This decision does not come ‘out of the blue.’ Successive policy documents outline the ANC government’s reasons for pursuing this course of action.

As far back as the 4th National Policy Conference in June 2012 the ANC expressed concern at the actions of the ICC with regards to selective prosecutions, and expressed the view that the ICC has vastly strayed from the original purpose for which it was established.

As part of the ANC’s commitment to participatory democracy and public consultation, the policy documents were released for public comment ahead of the NGC of 2015.

Following the instructive decision taken by the NGC, the ANC referred the process of withdrawal to the Executive and Parliament to process, within their roles and responsibilities as outlined by the Constitution of the Republic.

The separation of powers as per our Constitution has been observed, and the Executive has begun the process in line with its obligations under Section 231 of the Constitution. The Parliamentary process of legislative review that will lead to the repealing of some laws and the amendment of others, will follow.

The process of withdrawal, which will take a period of twelve months.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Adv. Michael Masutha has written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete notifying Parliament of the Cabinet decision, and requested an opportunity to explain the decision to Parliament.

Despite this very clear signal that South Africa intends to follow the necessary legal procedures of withdrawal, last week’s announcement was predictably greeted with the usual threats of litigation from the opposition.

This is in line with the DA’s custom of sacrificing the national interest at the altar of political expediency.

In their haste to rush to the courts to challenge any decision taken by the democratically elected government (within its constitutional mandate) the DA that wants to co-govern this country through the courts, is filing for direct access to the Constitutional Court: claiming that Cabinet’s notice was issued without a Parliamentary resolution and is thus invalid.

They further claim that a decision has been taken without Parliamentary and public consultation, thereby ‘breaching the country’s commitment to international justice and rights.’

The ANC reaffirms its support for the primacy of international law and role of international justice in stamping out impunity for mass atrocities.

It was also during the 2012 National Policy Conference of 2012 that the ANC expressly said it does not condone authoritarian and violent regimes.

We have furthermore repeatedly affirmed our commitment to multilateralism as a means to advance the aims and objectives of the UN Charter but equally, to the objectives upon which the African Union (AU) was founded.

The grim legacies of numerous wars and conflicts not just on the continent but across the globe have necessitated the establishment of collective mechanisms that protect the weak and vulnerable, and ensure that those accused of war crimes and other atrocities are brought to justice.

With that said, it is the prerogative of any sovereign state to regularly review and assess the implications of any treaty or agreement and make a decision based on whether the respective treaty or agreement is still relevant or suits the country’s national interest.

In doing so, chief among these considerations should be whether such a treaty is in accordance with our existing laws, or if it in fact seeks to supersede or replace them.

The reality that the political opposition perhaps seeks to deliberately avoid, is that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its current iteration falls far short of the noble objectives upon which it was founded.

Firstly, in its current form the ICC has morphed into an entity that empowers external actors and powerful interests to sit as judge, jury and executioner over signatory countries – and enforce sanction that they themselves will never be subject to, having wilfully chose not to ratify the Rome Statute.

Secondly, it cannot be disputed that the list of cases referred to and prosecuted by the ICC evidence a double standard (bordering on hypocrisy) at play, particularly in the wake of successive wars in the Middle East, as well as serious violations of international law by non-signatory countries.

Not only has the ICC failed to bring numerous cases that clearly would fall within its jurisdiction (allowing some to behave with impunity) it has also pursued headline grabbing cases that later had to be withdrawn for lack of evidence.

This has given rise to an unfortunate impression that international justice is being pursued with vigour against some countries (many of them in Africa) whilst other countries (most in developed countries) get off scot-free.

The result has been increased cynicism from African countries as to the court’s efficacy.

Thirdly, the claim therefore that some African countries are demanding a category of ‘exceptionalism’ to escape the reaches of international law is false and must be rejected. This also carries with it the false inference that victims of atrocities in Africa somehow do not ‘deserve’ protection under international law.

Like South Africa, there isn’t a single African country that holds the view that mass human rights violations should go unpunished.

It cannot be that withdrawal from the ICC should be equated with condoning human rights violations.
It also assumes that the domestic laws of African countries aren’t good enough to be used as a starting point to deal with human rights violations, and that we somehow cannot be trusted with setting up our own legal instrument to pursue justice.

The African Union has actively worked to enforce accountability through the strengthening of institutions such as the African Court on Human Rights; that was established by Article 1 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s rights, and adopted by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1998. This protocol has so far been signed and ratified by 24 African countries.

Far from eroding South Africa’s standing in the international community (as the DA claims) our decision to withdraw from the ICC is in line with the Common Position by African countries on withdrawal from the Hague-based court.

There are those who would argue that instead of withdrawing from the ICC, we should work on strengthening the court and addressing systemic, structural and other weaknesses within the court.

We believe that we would rather work on strengthening the African instrument that is intended to serve the same purpose as the ICC.

The African Court on Human Rights is not a paper tiger, contrary to the perceptions of some. It has proven its ability and capacity by having just recently brought a successful prosecution against the former Chadian President for mass violations.

The ANC government remains committed to the principles of accountability, due process, and the rule of law.

It is a fact that there is growing cynicism around the role played by the ICC in Africa, and South Africa is not alone in holding this view.

If justice is seen as an ideal that only applies to some, faith in the rule of law is steadily eroded.

This is not even to consider the practicalities of remaining signatory to a treaty that at times comes into direct conflict with our country’s foreign policy.

The circumstances surrounding the court case over the arrest warrant for the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last year was indicative of the way in which signatories to the Rome Statute may find themselves between a rock and a hard place: choosing between carrying out their obligations in terms of the treaty – and taking a decision with far-reaching (and potentially disastrous) foreign policy implications.

South Africa was expected to manage two essentially contradictory situations: on the one hand its obligation to provide immunity to accredited delegations to the AU Summit (which we did and duly gazetted) and on the other hand its obligation as a signatory to the Rome Statute to arrest a sitting Head of State and turn him over to the ICC. The consequences of South Africa’s decision are by now well-known.

It is worth noting that since last year, efforts towards peace in the troubled Darfur region appear to be gaining momentum; the result of ongoing peace talks between the Khartoum government and ethnic minority rebels, facilitated by Qatar. A peace deal between the Sudanese government and a rebel faction was recently implemented.

In South Sudan, a transitional government of national unity has been formed.

Had South Africa arrested President al-Bashir, this would be a pipe dream: and that is not even to consider what may have happened to the South African peacekeepers stationed in Sudan at the time.

Ultimately, the ANC wants to emphasize that nations of the world should be able to conduct their international relations and foreign policies in accordance with their respective national interest – without fear that their territorial integrity and sovereignty can at any point be undermined and violated.

This does not render our commitment to the principle of international justice any less.




October month is important in the African National Congress (ANC) as it marks Oliver Tambo Month, a month of renewal and reflection on the values of our glorious movement, based on the life of this illustrious leader of our people.
On this day, 27th of October 2016, President Oliver Reginald Tambo would have turned 99 years old. This makes 2017 a crucial year for our movement as it marks the Centenary of OR, one of the most outstanding leaders to be produced by our country and continent.

We must therefore use the next twelve months leading to the centenary of OR Tambo to draw the best lessons from his life and to understand his rare qualities that compelled our icon and former President Nelson Mandela to describe him as “a great giant that strode the globe like a colossus.”
Deep and strategic reflections on the life of President Oliver Tambo will offer us the opportunity to confront and deal with the challenges facing both the ANC as a movement of the people and our beloved country, South Africa at this juncture.

This is because OR Tambo was a solution oriented leader who always sought to move forward on the basis of building consensus among all forces necessary for such a movement forward. This ability to bring together people with different views on both strategic and tactical questions and inculcating in them the appreciation of superior logic earned President Tambo great admiration from all his comrades and affirmed him as an impartial leader belonging rigidly to no particular group or strand of thinking within the movement.

Comrade OR, as he is affectionately known, gave everyone in our movement the confidence that they could engage him on any matter and they would receive a fair hearing without prejudice or predetermined attitudes. It is precisely owing to this that he is credited foremost among all leaders as the one who skilfully held our movement together during the darkest days in our history when all seemed hopeless.

The longest ever serving president of the African National Congress from 1969 to 1991, OR Tambo’s presidency firmly entrenched the broad church character of the ANC, where all comrades from various ideological persuasions felt at home in our movement, united by their commitment to realize the strategic objective to create a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. O.R. insisted through his words and conduct that there are no antagonistic contradictions between the ideological strands existent within the ANC and he possessed the rare ability to quell whatever tensions arising from nationalist anxieties and communist imaginations in particular.

He was the embodiment of our broad church character which he correctly understood as a necessity and precondition for the unity of all the motive forces of our National Democratic Revolution. It is for this reason that the tripartite alliance of the ANC, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party grew stronger under his leadership, based on a solid political programme and led by the ANC.

His tolerant, measured and cautious response to difficult situations allowed for the impatience and militancy characteristic of young people to find expression in the body politic of the ANC. President Tambo allowed for the development of young people and their growth through the ranks of our movement, whilst at the same time insisting on the observation of organizational discipline. He appreciated the energy of young people and sought to exploit it appropriately in order to propel the ANC onto a higher trajectory of struggle. President Tambo centrally determined the overarching political direction of a key generation that earned itself a reputation as the “young lions of Oliver Tambo.”

His connection with and understanding of young people in the ANC was indeed informed by the fact that decades before he became President, he had been part of the radical generation that founded the ANC Youth League and served as its very first Secretary. We all therefore have a responsibility to learn from OR how to better handle contradictions that arise between the young and the old comrades, operating within the same political space.

One of the things that set OR Tambo above many was his spirit of self-sacrifice. A few days after the Sharpeville Massacre in the then Transvaal in the autumn of 1960, the African National Congress dispatched him to go and galvanize international support for the revolutionary anti-apartheid struggle.

Without thought of it, OR obliged and placed himself wholly at the disposal of his movement. Unbeknown to him, he was to set foot on the land of his birth again only three decades later. Such was the sacrifice that this humble servant was willing to make for the liberation of South Africans.

He represents the calibre of cadreship envisioned in our Strategy & Tactics document when it says:

“Wherever they are to be found, ANC cadres should act as the custodians of the principles of fundamental social change; winning respect among their peers and society at large through exemplary conduct. They must be informed by values of honesty, hard work, humility, service to the people and respect for the laws of the land.”

President Tambo epitomized these and other age old values upon which our movement was founded more than 104 years ago.

In memory of this stalwart of our movement who made an unmatched contribution to the liberation struggle of the South African people, let us continue efforts to unite the ANC so that it can better serve the people of our country. Like OR Tambo, we must not be too inward looking when dealing with our challenges. We must always look at our challenges in the context of the broader implications they have on our people.
Our branches must use this OR Tambo month to deepen our reflection and intensify debate about the current political situation, domestically and globally, using the question “what would OR Tambo have done” as a stimulus to such a debate. Needless to say, such a debate would require that ordinary members of the ANC improve their knowledge of President Oliver Reginald Tambo.

For it was Comrade OR who warned prophetically in 1977 in Angola: “Comrades, you might think it is very difficult to wage a liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage you will realize that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war. People will be expecting a lot of services from you. You will have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people. In the process, be prepared to learn from other people’s revolutions. Learn from the enemy also. The enemy is not necessarily doing everything wrongly. You may take his right tactics and use them to your advantage. At the same time, avoid repeating the enemy’s mistakes.”

As we recall the wisdom of this giant leader and unifier of our movement, we also call on our structures to hold public lectures aimed at educating society at large about this inimitable leader of our revolution after whom an important international airport in our country was named.

The celebration of President Tambo and his contribution to our struggle must mark the beginning of efforts to teach our people in earnest about all their heroes and heroines who made immense sacrifices for our liberation, more so to assist us address the pressing challenges facing both the African National Congress as the leader of our society and the society it continues to lead.




On this day 99 years ago, a liberator, fighter and protector of women’s rights was born.

We hail the blessed mother to Oliver Reginald Kaizana Tambo (OR), umama uJulia, who carried and nurtured an African man with a sensitive heart and fighting spirit for women’s emancipation.

The year 2016 marks the 98 Years of Women’s Struggles.

The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) has been honoring those who have made significant contributions in the struggle for women emancipation. This cannot be complete until we take the journey from the era of President Oliver Reginald Tambo who took women issues to the center stage within the African National Congress (ANC) and provided leadership in society with regards to women empowerment.
It may not be a story that’s usually narrated but history tells us that back in 1941, one white person who was in charge of the kitchen at the then College of Fort Hare where Cde OR was a Sciences student, assaulted a black woman employee. As it was expected during the dark days of segregation, an enquiry into the matter exonerated the white man involved. It was none other than Tambo who influenced students to stage a boycott of classes in protest. Standing up for the rights of a black woman employee, amongst many of his leadership qualities, elevated Comrade OR’s into being unanimously elected chairperson of the Students’ Committee of his residence, Beda Hall in 1942.

As we honor the life and the legacy of President Tambo, we acknowledge his contribution towards women empowerment and gender equality and the impact thereof. His commitment in advocating for gender equality that began during his student days, continued. When Tambo was the head of the ANC’s Constitutional Commission in 1959, he recommended that more constitutional recognition be given to the ANCWL hence we are indeed humbled to be part of today’s celebration.

President Tambo further advanced the agenda of our liberation by forming a committee on women emancipation guided by the ANC on issues of gender equality and the struggle for women’s rights. This era also marked the endorsement of non-racialism and the Freedom Charter amongst others. The revised constitution came to be known as the Tambo Constitution to signify his commitment to political work within the ANC.

The banning of the ANC and the ANCWL in 1960 forced women to work underground in their pursuance for liberation. The women in exile organized themselves into the ANC Women’s Section. It was at the ANC Women’s Section Conference in Angola in the year 1981 that President Tambo affirmed his confidence in women leadership where he said,

“We invite the Women’s Section of the ANC and the black women of South Africa, more oppressed and more exploited than any section of the population, to take up this challenge and assume their proper role outside the kitchen among the fighting ranks of our movement and its command post.”

He believed that the Women’s Section was not an end in itself but a weapon of struggle to be correctly used against all forms and levels of oppression and inequality in the interests of a victorious struggle of the people. It was under his leadership that another gain was achieved for women where the ANC accepted the attribute of non-sexism into its constitution in its vision for a new South Africa.

Subsequently to the unbanning of political organizations the ANCWL was relaunched in 1990. In his message to the Women’s Conference in 1990 he said,

“It is the women of South Africa who have played a vital role in the mass mobilization, armed struggle, which together, made possible your meeting openly and legally today. The struggle must now be taken forward to ensure that the gains which have been made lead to further advancements.”

The words of President Tambo have remained a compass in all struggles for women. Therefore, it remains the duty of the current leadership to ensure that the agenda of women emancipation does not fall by the wayside, in particular, for the women who still require access to resources and are still at the bottom of the economic ladder.

As we celebrate this giant of our movement, let us acknowledge that the leadership of Cde OR has laid a formidable foundation for different generations of women. His legacy includes numerous gains for women in the negotiations for democracy and also ensured a high proportion of women in parliament, a gender sensitive Constitution and the establishment of State machinery to mainstream gender equality. He did not live long enough to witness democracy but his legacy is democracy, his legacy lives on!

As South African women we are greatly indebted to this selfless giant, a man of integrity, the embodiment of the National Democratic Revolution, the longest serving President of the ANC. Indeed, today, we are proud to stand on the broad shoulders of this unifying giant of the oldest liberation in the world.

Cde Oliver Reginald Tambo. We thank you.
Machi, uNomfe ayigotywa; igotywa ngethokazi.



In the month of October we remember President Oliver Tambo. The principal motivation for this remembrance is to immortalize his memory through time and to draw important political lessons from his life.

The electoral results of August 3 have emboldened the misguided idea that the ANC is experiencing challenges that are impossible to overcome. This is stated as part of an effort to convince many members of the ANC and society to desert the movement.

We, however, have to remind ourselves that even Comrade Oliver Tambo led the ANC during difficult times with many internal challenges that could have killed the movement. The banning of the ANC by the apartheid regime and the mass arrest of its senior leaders between 1961 and1964 meant that the ANC had to quickly rethink its political and organizational strategy. This included the transformation of its external mission to a complete exile situation with military, political and organizational dimensions that the ANC had not anticipated and prepared for systematically.

The death of President Luthuli effectively meant comrade Tambo had to assume overall leadership of the ANC, in exile and back at home, with all the complications that came with it, including serious internal divisions. However, Cde OR actively sought to allow dissent to express itself in a manner that didn’t compromise the unity of purpose that the movement is about. In his own thinking, the ANC represented something greater than a political party and its unity had to be defended at all cost.

He viewed the ANC as a decisive development in the birth of an African Nation out of the historical patterns of tribal nationalism. In his view, the formation of the ANC was part of a transformation of the old political institutions of the oppressed towards the creation of a single African identity, with the ANC serving as the platform upon which this new identity would be fashioned out. He made this point quite clearly on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the ANC, on 8 January 1972, when he said;

“After the festivities, activities and holidays marking the end of the year and the beginning of the next, the leaders of the African people converged in Bloemfontein on January 8, 1912, to found the African Nation, to become one people and to continue their centuries-old struggle against whites as one Black people that spoke and acted through the African National Congress which, established on that day, concretized the existence of this nation and gave it form and character.”

As part of his sociological theory of the ANC and its birthing of an African identity, Tambo insisted throughout his life that the movement had to forever strive for unity of purpose and be at the forefront of South Africa’s socio-political imagination. He believed that the movement had to try to always help society interpret historical moments and events in a progressive manner. Therefore, to Cde OR, the task of political communication was a non-negotiable aspect of the broad political strategy of the ANC in maximizing its hegemony in society.

In his mind the ANC had to provide convincing political perspectives to the people in order to condition the thinking and conduct of activists and communities in an effort to increase the tempo of struggle at every turn of history. For him the ANC had to constantly rise above the contested media terrain by seeking to always assert its own moral perspectives openly, defend its decisions and insist on engaging society in its own terms. Currently, the ANC is fully displaced as a leader of public imagination. We have arrived at a point where we derive our political perspectives from narratives developed and advanced by other voices, especially in media spaces.

We, as the ANC, have become reactive and thus conducting our political strategy as a response to a political agenda that is no longer set by us.
Whilst being open to public criticism, including media criticism, a revolutionary organization has to systematically filter what it receives from outside and assert its homegrown perspectives about the nature of internal problems.

The ANC must always have the rational capacity to determine the substance of critical thinking that serves its own agenda and reject what doesn’t positively reinforce the legitimacy of the movement. As part of the present situation we have to be serious about the need to defend and advance the legitimacy of the decisions of the ANC. There is a systematic attempt to divide the movement by always inviting individual members of the ANC to break rank, reject ANC decisions and thus advertise themselves as the only ones with sound moral values amongst us.

As part of this bid to have the ANC tear itself apart, for the past 10 years, the ANC has been placed in a corner in which it has to always field attempts to have it reject its own President. A troubling view has gained strength in which all problems of the ANC and the country are presented as the personal engineering of President Jacob Zuma. Thus, to resolve all of these challenges, the ANC is implored to condemn and remove its president.

This reductionist perspective is now being embraced by some sections of the movement. They are gaining unlimited access to media platforms in order to advance this unproductive and diverting view. Effectively the ANC now approaches matters of political leadership on the basis of this mood created about whether it will keep or reject its President. Every decision and view is interpreted within the framework of pro or anti-Zuma factional lenses.

This agenda is succeeding in so far as it keeps the ANC in a cycle of the same discussion and thus losing capacity to advance its own political programme of social transformation. The movement is trapped in this cycle of disunity and by extension lacks the required unity of purpose that can allow it to effectively discharge its strategic leadership of both the state and society.

All of this means that the ANC has drifted away from the teachings of President Oliver Tambo on the value of unity and coherent political leadership of the country’s social and political imagination. We have lost the political initiative of setting the national agenda. Cde OR’s experience as a founding member and leading thinker of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), informed his knowledge that sustainable organizational and political renewal depends on young people. He understood that the senior membership of the ANC has a duty to listen to its youth and to draw new ideas from these fresh sections of society on how best to improve the organization and the country.

Therefore, the ANCYL has to reclaim its role as the main driver of renewal in the ANC. To discharge this task, our thinking must go beyond obsession with leadership questions just for the sake of it. This includes the need to force the ANC to listen seriously to the cries of the youth about the structural problems that produce underdevelopment, unemployment and economic marginalization.

In this regard we must understand the current #FeesMustFall stalemate to be a launch pad for a broader critique of the legitimacy and responsiveness of the state. This is related to the ability of the ANC in government to effectively deal with social transformation in a manner that visibly transfers the wealth structures and institutions of social power in our country to the control of African people as the primary motive force for change.

Had the ANC implemented its conference resolution of free education by 2013, there would be no FeesMustFall stalemate in the country. Instead of expending our energies on internal cat and mouse chases, the ANC must collectively ground itself in the task of tackling practical matters of youth development as a means of building a stable future.

As OR Tambo warned, a nation that doesn’t take care of its youth does not deserve its future. A divided ANC loses its capacity to lead the development of a united, democratic and socially transformed African nation as imagined by the founding members of the ANC and Youth League. Close ranks and unite around the primary tasks of the national democratic revolution!


This is an abridged version of the ANCYL OR Tambo Memorial Lecture he delivered in Mpumalanga on 22 October, 2016.