An edited version of ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule’s closing address at the ANC Gauteng conference
It is our honour and indeed a great privilege to be afforded this rare historic opportunity, to represent the leadership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC, during this important occasion of the closing ceremony of the plenary session of the 13th Provincial Conference of Gauteng. We humble ourselves before the people of this great metropolis which is the financial capital of the African continent.
The leadership of the National Executive Committee (NEC) appreciates very much your remarkable work, which is a demonstration of your endless determination to build the unity and cohesion of our movement and of our people. We are from the bottom of our hearts inspired by the high levels of commitment and collective effort to build the ANC into a formidable force, which is indeed a true leader of our National Democratic Revolution (NDR).
It was a daunting task to convene five elective regional conferences, and at the same time preparing for this all-important and successful provincial conference. Your determination to work towards the unity and cohesion of our glorious movement has today translated itself into the much-desired outcome that culminated in the resounding success of this conference.
We welcome and congratulate the newly elected leadership of the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) under the stewardship of Cde David Makhura, who is also the Premier of this province. We are confident that the collective leadership of men and women elected at all the regional conferences and this provincial conference, will rise to the occasion and work together as one, in order to consolidate the unity of our movement and our people.
Without a shadow of a doubt, we are confident that our Movement and our revolution, and therefore the future of the people of our country are in good capable hands. You are indeed a powerhouse with the necessary capacity to transform the ANC into a true representative of the wishes and the aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people of our country.
The President of the ANC was here during the opening session of your conference and we fully agree with him that it is now time to close ranks and build the momentum for the unity of our struggle for socio-economic transformation. The message of unity and hope must resonate with our structures and our people throughout the length and breadth of our country.
To assume the leadership of the ANC is a conscious political decision to volunteer oneself to be a selfless servant of the people. Leadership is an opportunity to learn how to serve in the best interests of the people.
This historic closing plenary session of the 13th provincial conference of Gauteng is taking place during an important year in the calendar of the struggle for the liberation of the whole of humanity. The conference is taking place during the centenary anniversary celebrations of the lives and times of two of our towering icons, Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu.
It is indeed true that in the life of every nation, there will arise men and women who will leave an indelible mark in the history of their people. The two icons of our liberation movement, Tata Nelson Mandela, and Mama Albertina Sisulu, represent the galaxy of such rare and selfless leaders, who are both the products and the makers of the history of the development of human society.
Today we pay homage to their extraordinary acts of heroism and contribution to the struggle for the emancipation of the people of the world, and we are determined to follow their glorious but humble paths to serve humanity. Their living memories will forever represent the brightest torch to illuminate the revolution for generations of mankind to come.
We thank the two families of the Mandela and Sisulu clans for having given us such outstanding titanic leaders of our people. The ANC and the people of our country will forever be indebted to their colossal contribution to the struggle of our people against imperialism and the racist apartheid colonial regime.
However, we must be very worried by the growing tendencies amongst some of the sections of the South African society who are continuing with the endless effort to separate the heroic life of our icon Nelson Mandela from his own liberation movement the ANC. The forces opposed to the transformation of our country are indeed hard at work to use the high moral standards his life represents to undermine the very same movement he always represented and lived for. That while Tata Madiba always insisted that he was a product of the ANC, and was nothing without the ANC.
The leader of the world communist movement, Comrade Vladimir Lenin, reminds us that history bears testimony that after the death of any leader, who had won the popularity and confidence of our masses, the enemy will always try to appropriate his/her name and use it to hoodwink the oppressed classes.
He said the following about the attitude of the enemy during the lifetimes of revolutionaries:
“…. during the lifetimes of great revolutionaries, the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander.
After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonize them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the consolation of the oppressed classes and the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its substance, blunting its revolutionary edge and vulgarizing it”.
It is a characteristic feature of counter-revolution to praise the dead in order to condemn the living. We are witnessing a growing phenomenon by the very same architects of counter-revolution, who condemned Madiba for almost 27 years of his life in prison, for the obvious moral reason of fighting for the dignity of his own people against the evil system of apartheid, which the world community declared a crime against humanity, of abusing his departed soul to haunt the very same movement and the people he led and died for.
By its nature and character, counter-revolution itself is hypocrisy of the highest order. Without any shame and remorse for the untold acts of atrocities, those who are opposed to the transformation of our country, have the audacity to separate the heroic life of Madiba from the heroic leadership role of his own Movement, the ANC, in our struggle for the liberation of the people of our country.
They are abusing the image of our revolutionary leader to mount an offensive against the common efforts of our people to transform the socio-economic conditions of our country. From their sweet and self-centered dreams, they think Madiba is separable from the Movement he led his whole life and died for.
Madiba declared himself that the first thing he would do when he arrived in heaven is to ask God and our ancestors about where a branch of the ANC is. In other words, his first encounter before the eyes of God and our ancestors in heaven will be to ask them where the ANC is because Madiba is the product of this movement and his image represents the true ethos of the values and traditions of our glorious Movement.
We hear their ululations about our peaceful transition to democracy which has produced one of the ‘best constitutions in the world’, but what is amazing from them is that they only talk about the beauty of the chapters of the Bill of Rights, our national anthem, national flag, as if these are part of the beautiful rivers, mountains and the weather of our country. Why are they so silent and reluctant to talk about the most important chapters of the constitution, which talks about the sunset clauses or property clause?
These counter-revolutionaries want to tell us that the very constitution that our ANC representatives, who were the majority in the Constitutional Assembly, wrote in order to serve and protect the interests and future of our people is a so-called ‘holy grail’, that cannot be amended. The constitution can never be a cast in stone, it must be a flexible instrument to serve the needs and advancement of the people.
After 24 years of democracy, we have learned that there are clauses in the constitution that frustrates and impedes the return of the land to our people (who are the rightful owners, and from whom it was stolen) without compensation. If, and wherever, there are such clauses in the constitution that impedes the return of the land to our people, and fully empowering them economically, we must not hesitate to be prepared to make the required amendments. It cannot be that as the servants of our people, we can even for a moment, accept the counter-revolutionary propaganda that our constitution cannot be amended.
Comrades, we must never ever forget that at the very foundation of the formation of the ANC in 1912 was the land question, and the return of the land to its rightful owners, who are the black population of South Africa, and specifically Africans. Without the return of the land, we will never be able to successfully implement Radical Economic Transformation (RET), which must be the driving force for achieving towards the building of our national democratic society.
Let me return to comrade Vladimir Lenin again, the leader of the Russian revolution when he says the following about deception and self-deception in politics:
“People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be until they have learned to seek out the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. Champions of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realise that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is kept going by the forces of certain ruling classes.
And there is only one way of smashing the resistance of those classes, and that is to find, in the very society which surrounds us, the forces which can and – owing to their social position – must-constitute the power capable of sweeping away the old and creating the new, and to enlighten and organise those forces for the struggle.”
These rich words of wisdom poses to us the important question as to what has to be done. What has to be done to make sure that our Movement continues to be the premier leader of our struggle for the transformation of the South African society.
Monopoly capital which in our own specific conditions of the South African realities has assumed a racial character of white supremacy, is propounding a false view about the pace and the direction of our National Democratic Revolution. Monopoly capital is spreading a false view that our democratic breakthrough was in itself the end of the struggle for the liberation of our country.
This is a heinous and deliberate distortion of the true facts in order to frustrate and delay the pace of the determination of the ANC and the people of our country to reverse the legacy of apartheid colonialism. The living truth is that they know that the democratic breakthrough was not at all the end of our revolution, but only the beginning of a more protracted struggle for transformation.
Comrades, political freedom does not necessarily translate into economic freedom. Therefore we need to confront the attempts of the propaganda by these forces which are trying to blame the ANC for the massive developmental backlogs and challenges of our country.
Our theoretical understanding is that racism remains to be the bedrock of modern South African capitalism. Our economic architecture is still rooted in racial supremacy and therefore continues to perpetuate deepening inequalities, poverty, and unemployment.
The base of our economy, which is about the ownership patterns is still dominated by apartheid social relations and therefore our superstructure is still serving the interest of the white minority.
The fake news and propaganda that is spread and perpetuated, is primarily about undermining our struggle for the radical socio-economic transformation of our society. To the contrary for us, the battle is to radically change the apartheid status quo of racial economic ownership patterns.
If indeed they are honest to the living memories of Madiba, they must become true to his historic mission of fulfilling his noble idea of building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. At the core of the building of such an ideal society, is the commitment to share the wealth of our country equally amongst her citizens, and to economically empower and liberate the black majority in general and the Africans in particular.
The African National Congress remains a revolutionary movement which is part of the wider struggle to create a better world for humanity. Our posture and character is shaped and influenced by revolutionary principles of solidarity and internationalism.
Of fundamental importance is that we cannot shape and influence the changing world material conditions without mastering the theory of our revolution. It is only our revolutionary theory which can become an effective guiding tool of our struggle for changing the conditions of the world to respond to the needs of the people of our country and the whole world.
Now, more than ever before, there is a growing need for a common effort by the progressive movement to demand the radical socio-economic transformation of the world relations. It is indeed the task of all our deployees to implement the resolutions of the 54th National Conference without fail, and without any attempts whatsoever to water them down.
Our struggle is about expanding the frontiers of solidarity and internationalism in order to defeat the scourge of disease, poverty, and underdevelopment which has become the principal feature of the living conditions of the majority of the people of the world. The world industrial and military complexes need a radical transformation in order to accelerate the improvement of the living conditions of our people.
It is therefore in this context that the present historical period of the complex and hostile world of capitalism requires of all the progressive forces to strengthen the bonds of human solidarity and internationalism. This is the objective reality we have to appreciate during our long walk to freedom to build the world of peace and stability.
The mismanagement of the economy by monopoly capital has plunged the world into a deep socio-economic crisis. What has become evident is that the system of capitalism cannot resolve its own contradictions.
Recently a delegation of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC visited the People’s Republic of China to foster relations with the Communist party of China. The ANC and the Communist Party of China has a longstanding relationship based on firm principles of comradeship, loyalty, and mutual trust.
We have agreed to take our party-to-party bi-lateral relations to much higher heights. Our focus is to concentrate on concrete action plans based on achievable outcomes.
We are looking at exchange programmes on political education, bursaries, and scholarships for the youth of our country and cultural activities. We hope that these kinds of qualitative interventions will go a long way in assisting our programme for the unity and renewal of our movement.
On Monday last week, another delegation of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC attended a groundbreaking ceremony of the sod-turning ceremony of the building of the Mwalimo Julius Nyerere Leadership School in the United Republic of Tanzania. The school will be training cadres of the former Southern African liberation movements of SWAPO, MPLA, ZANU-PF, CHAMA CHA Mapinduzi, FRELIMO and ANC for the advancement of ideological and theoretical work.
This leadership school will be like a factory of production of a young generation of cadres vested in an ideological and theoretical understanding of the strategic objectives of our revolution, and therefore the transformation of the socio- and economic landscape of our continent. A factory of production of a new caliber of cadreship with all the capacity to eliminate all the manifestations of imperialism and neo-colonialism, monopoly capitalism, racial chauvinism and ultimately the end of exploitation of man by man.
The Julius Nyerere Leadership School will produce a new caliber of African men and women with the necessary required capacity to take account of the complex world realities. The caliber of cadre ship required to carry forward the revolutionary task for the radical socio-economic transformation of our beloved continent.
As a matter of historical necessity, the school will train young African leaders in the ideological and theoretical field to halt the massive ideological onslaught by the forces of reaction against the world progressive movement. Ideological contestation has become a battlefield of how ideas can influence the posture of the new world social order.
The ANC supports the struggle of the people of Palestine and once again makes a call to the racist government of Israel to stop the atrocities against the Palestinian people. The ANC reiterates its long-held view that the Two States solution is the only guarantee for a peaceful resolution of the state of Israel and Palestinian.
We support the people of the Republic of Cuba and therefore make a clarion call to the USA-led Trump administration to lift the decades-long economic blockade against the heroic Caribbean Island. The continuous acts of sabotage by the USA administration against the people of Cuba is indeed a crime against humanity.
During the past few weeks, we have received more than seven hundred South African medical students who trained in the Republic of Cuba. These are well-trained students who will be the pioneers of our primary health care system.
The ANC supports the continuous health exchange programme between the Republic of Cuba and our country in the field of health and other disciplines, especially in maths and science and we continue to be indebted to the immeasurable contribution by the Cuban people during our struggle for the liberation of the people of our continent.
We support the struggle of the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and we urge the USA administration to respect the territorial integrity and independence of this great nation of the father of the Latin American war of independence, Simon Bolivar. The people of Venezuela have the right of choice of the system of socialism as their future for the building of human society. At the last meeting of the Alliance Council, we were greatly honored by a visit from comrade Jorge Arreaza, the Minister of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Our continent Africa will remain incomplete without the freedom and independence of the people of the SAHARAWI. We make a clarion call to the leadership of the African Union (AU) to accelerate the process for the total independence of these heroic people of our mother continent.
The ANC can only achieve these strategic objectives if it consolidates the foundations of party building and theoretical hegemony. We need to build a strong and a vibrant organization rooted in the masses of our people.
Therefore the question of the unity of our movement for the achievement of our historic mission remains to be of the utmost importance. The late President of the ANC, Cde Oliver Reginald Tambo, said the following about the strategic importance of the unity of our movement:
“…. the relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, no is it a natural and inevitable development. For us, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of the liberation struggle in other parts of Africa. Ours is not merely a pager Alliance created at conference tables and forms listed through the signing of documents, and representing only agreements of leaders.
Our Alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle and which we have built out of our separate and common experiences. Our Alliance has been fertilized by the blood of countless heroes and heroines whom many of them are unnamed and unsung. Our Alliance has been reinforced by a common determination to destroy the enemy and by our shared belief in the certainty of victory”.
I am sure that you will all agree with me that this seminal theoretical formulation by the longest serving President of the ANC, is today more relevant than ever before. The wisdom of OR Tambo to this important question is that the unity of our movement is a precondition for the success of our National Democratic Revolution.
It is therefore of critical importance that members of the ANC have a common understanding of the character of the South African revolution. That the overall strategic objective of our revolution is the resolution of the national, class and gender questions in our society.
Therefore unity and cohesion of the ANC is first and foremost principally about our understanding of the character of the South African revolution during this difficult ongoing process of the reconstruction and development of our new society. The unity of the ANC is the unity of our people and our revolution.
A communist party is a vanguard and the most advanced detachment led by the most advanced sections of our society. It is the political leader of the struggle of the working class guided by the scientific revolutionary theory of Marxism Leninism.
Its supreme goal is to achieve the highest form of human society, which is communism. A system which is about the creation of a classless society, a communist society based on the foundations of equality.
A trade union movement is a mass organization of the working class. It represents the interests of the workers at the point of production. Its struggles are essentially about the immediate improvement of the working and living conditions of its members. A trade union movement has never, and should not, assume the role of a political leader of the working class struggles.
The ANC is a mass-based revolutionary movement, whose aim is to struggle for the building of non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. Its strategic objective is the liberation of the black people in general, and Africans in particular.
This understanding of the political necessity of our alliance components can only be realized if we focus our energies more on political education and party building. We need to have a plan of action of political education programmes that we have to implement throughout all the branches of the ANC throughout the country.
The building of more formidable structures will assist in dealing with some of the fashionable tendencies tearing our movement apart. A member of the ANC cannot be the same as a member of the opposition in his/her conduct, and the posture of his/her theoretical and ideological understanding.
What is important is how we derive a common programme from the branch level up, to resolve the challenges facing our society. The leadership role of our structures is not there for our selfish interests but to serve at the best interest of the overwhelming majority of our people.
Ideological and theoretical work is important for party building and organizational discipline. We have to make sure that we enforce organizational discipline and democratic centralism.
We hope that the outcomes of this conference will be the pillar of unity and renewal of our movement and our people.
Those who have been elected into positions of responsibilities have a task to embrace others and those who could not make it have also the task of accepting the outcomes and therefore respecting the elected leadership.
The problem is when those who are elected use their positions to abuse and marginalize those who could not make it and those who could not make it undermine the political authority of those elected. We need to guard against all these foreign tendencies which have the potential to tear our Movement apart.
These are the tasks we have to fulfill in our work for the preparations for the coming elections. The province of Gauteng has a huge responsibility to recover lost ground. In order to achieve this, we must all work together and foster unity in our ranks.
If we do not work together the ANC will lose the whole of Gauteng and therefore entrust the leadership role of this metropolis into the hands of the forces of reaction and doom.
Let all of us go out in a unity of purpose and action and ensure that the ANC gets an overwhelming victory in the coming national general elections. Through our democratic processes, we have entrusted our movement in your hands.
We are confident that we will restore the trust and the confidence of our glorious Movement back to the masses of our people. In memory of Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu and many of our unsung heroes and heroines of our struggle, we must spare no effort to achieve this glorious goal.
Less us celebrate and sing the songs about our tried and tested leaders of the Movement. Comrades, let me now lead by example and sing about our leaders, comrades OR Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.