By: Phatse Justice Piitso
To be a revolutionary is not a virtue, it is not an entitlement, but a calling, the highest form of a commitment and dedication to the cause of the struggle for the liberation of our people.
Many of the people of our country are a witness to untold stories of the atrocities of imperialism and Apartheid colonialism. For over three hundred and sixty-five years, thousands and thousands of our people have been brutally murdered, for the simple reasons for the colour of their skin, of being black and African in particular, of being discriminated from the ownership of the economy of their motherland.
Many paid their supreme price at the forefront of our struggle, in jail, exile, at the forefront of mass protest actions and boycotts, in the schools and churches. Their contribution is a tapestry of the rich history of the common struggle of our people for freedom and dignity.
They dedicated their lives to the struggle of our people at all turn of the historical period, irrespective of the challenges of the time. Obviously, as our struggle takes a new shape at each and every turn of the historical period, our movement will continue to be confronted by challenges as dictated by the material conditions of the time.
Through the century of the existent of our glorious movement the African National Congress, there have been many challenges at our glimpse, and our movement will continue to face many of them as it continues to transform society. All these do not make us lose sight of our strategic initiative, of organizational discipline and inner party democracy. Of criticism and self-criticism and democratic centralism. If we lose this important ethos which has over the years constituted the basic culture and traditions of our movement, then we are in trouble.
The role of the veterans of our movement in this regard becomes of critical importance. To be a veteran is not about the number of years you have, but about the years you have in service of the struggle for the liberation of our people, it is about your commitment to the noble cause for the radical economic transformation of our society.
In other words, to be a veteran does not mean that our people owe you, it must not be used to blackmail our people, because none of them committed us to the theatre of the struggle, it was the revolutionary calling, it was as a result of the levels of revolutionary consciousness to liberate our people from the bondage of oppression and exploitation. To be a veteran does not automatically make you an angel of morality, a super revolutionary whose leadership role is above the discipline of the organization.
When faced with these challenges, as we are in the ANC, the role of our veterans who have gone through long hard years of the struggle, and who carry in the bone and marrow of their hardened bodies the institutional memory of our struggle, becomes critically important. Our veterans know, and indeed lived, what our struggle is truly about. Our Veterans have reached that stage in their lives where they should not first and foremost be interested in positions and self-advancement, but the preservation of the legacy of what they have dedicated their very lives to.
Their revolutionary wisdom should be the compass that will keep us steadfast on our glorious path of the long walk to freedom. As a Movement, the ANC should be able to look up to them to guide us to avoid the detours of self-aggrandizement. Thus, when the veterans fail us, it is more than failure, it is the denial of their very own lives and treacherous betrayal of future generations.
The first signs of such betrayal usually manifest themselves in organizational indiscipline. It goes without saying that the veterans of the ANC are the ones, with their long institutional memory of how the internal democratic structures and procedures of the ANC came about, why they are there, and how these structures and procedures have been used over decades to resolve disputes and safeguard the integrity of our organization.
When people with such a rich guiding institutional memory fail to adhere to the organizational procedures and protections that they themselves have over years helped to establish, our movement finds itself in the rapids of perilous and treacherous waters.
The last couple of years there have been deeply, and increasingly, disturbing manifestations of some ANC veterans behaving in this manner. Some ANC veterans have claimed for themselves the strange ‘right’ to speak out on public platforms against their own organization and its leadership. Sadly they do so while they know very well that there are avenues available to them inside the ANC, in adherence to the well-established principle of internal democracy, where they can raise their concerns and with the respect accorded to them within the ANC sure that they will be given such an ample opportunity.
As disturbing is these so-called ANC veterans who behave in this alien manner, of having appointed themselves as the spokespeople of all ANC veterans, which they certainly are not. They have developed an adulterous love relationship with the White Monopoly Controlled (WMC) mainstream media, which hangs on every word that they utter, and give them the widest possible publicity. Perversely, those who should be the guardians and protectors of our Liberation Movement have turned themselves into vicious critics and undermining the very internal democratic processes of our movement.
The issue is not whether there are differences of opinion and even differences of ideology within the ANC. Being the broad church that the ANC is, those differences have always been there. The issue is how they are managed and resolved. Those who truly love the ANC, rather than themselves, will raise their concerns within the internal organizational structures, and once such concerns have been processed, and are then duty bound to subject themselves to the democratic outcomes of the decisions of the majority.
However, those who love themselves more than the ANC will obviously not be prepared to subject themselves to such organizational discipline. For them, it is not about their love for the Movement and its ultimate preservation. It is about their selfindulgent love for themselves and self-promotion. Usually, such a transformation from selfless love for the Liberation Movement to insidious self-love is accompanied by a change in the material conditions of the person who transforms him/herself into a modern day hero of our people.
True veterans of the ANC will always speak the truth and be true guardians of our
movement. They will always subject themselves to the discipline of our movement.
What is shocking is that all of them who are defining themselves outside the parameters of our organizational discipline are nowhere to be found doing work for the movement. We do not see them doing door to door and encouraging our people to vote for the ANC, they do not even attend daily meetings of their local branches, they are no were to be found, but have become the best critics of the ANC.
Sadly they now reserve their comments for those they hate in the ANC, while they defend the interests of white monopoly. The past weekend this was again on so nauseatingly on display when some of these self-appointed spokespersons for ANC veterans launched a vicious attack on the Secretary-General, comrade Ace Magashule, for having simply stated the obvious that the Democratic Alliance is primarily a white party representing the interests of those who over the years benefited from the atrocities of the vicious apartheid regime.
The question we ask is whether they have called the Secretary-General of the ANC before they went public criticizing him, whether they have called him to understand the premise of his address to the people of the western cape. It is evident that the South African media is biased and will want to tell the people what is at its best interest.
At this critical juncture, as described above, where the very character of the ANC as a Liberation Movement is at stake, the majority of ANC veterans who have not sold their revolutionary consciousness have to stand up and be counted. There are a majority of mostly silent ANC veterans whose revolutionary consciousness is intact, and the time has now arrived for us to stand up and speak against these tendencies of self-serving righteousness. We ask all our veterans to be exemplary and show us the way, of embarking on this new journey of unity and renewal, of building a new society and indeed a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Our task is to call all our people to vote for the ANC, the ANC has the capacity to rectify its own mistakes and therefore take the leadership role of transforming our society. The ANC is the only party with all the capacity to lead our people into the future.
Pitso is a manager in the office of the ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule. He writes in his personal capacity