OR TAMBO MEMORIAL LECTURE - Dira Semelane ANC Branch (Ward 30)
Delivered by Comrade Kebby Maphatsoe, President of MKMVA Saturday, 7 October 2017
Comrades it is a great honour and pleasure for me to address you at the beginning of this month of October, which is the birth month of one of the greatest leaders of the ANC, comrade OR Tambo.
As we all know if comrade OR was still alive he would have turned a 100 years old on the 27th of October. It is therefore appropriate that the NEC of the ANC declared this year the year of OR Tambo, and that our slogan for the year is: “LET US BUILD UNITY”
It is to state the obvious that comrade OR was truly one of the greatest sons of our South African soil, and that he was also one of the greatest leaders and unifiers of the ANC. It speaks volumes for the abilities as a leader, that comrade OR so amply had, that he was the longest-serving President of the ANC, and that he secured this remarkable achievement while he led the ANC during probably the most difficult period of our existence, when our organisation was banned by the National Party apartheid regime and had to conduct our operations from exile.
The historians who write about the experiences of liberation movements tell us that exile is a most treacherous and difficult environment, and that many liberation movements have been broken and destroyed by the diverse pressures that are brought to bear by the harsh conditions of exile. The exile experience of the ANC was made even worse by the long-term imprisonment of many of our most important leaders – among them comrade Nelson Mandela and the Rivonia trialists. Yet, Comrade OR managed to keep the ANC together and afloat during the long exile years.
In fact, under his remarkable leadership, the ANC did not only survive, it actually managed to grow stronger both at home internally within South Africa, and also internationally. By the time that the Apartheid Regime was under so much pressure, and weakened by our attacks on it on all fronts, that it had to yield to our demands, the ANC could emerge as the only truly legitimate leader of the majority of the people of South Africa to negotiate the transfer of power to a democratically and representative majority government.
Comrades we must never fool ourselves that the years of exile were not excruciatingly difficult, and that there were not huge difficulties that we had to traverse. The ANC is a broad church, with comrades from many different backgrounds, divergent class origins and religious and political views. These differences inevitably led to ideological tensions that had to be managed very carefully, and there were times that the tensions within the ANC brought us closer to the brink of disaster.
The historical Kabwe and Morogoro Conferences are testimony to that, and the fact that the ANC was able to head-on address the serious ideological and material challenges that we were faced with in a manner that made it possible for our Movement to emerge out of the crises that led to these conferences being called, stronger and more united was in no small measure due to the selfless leadership of comrade OR.
The strength of comrade OR’s leadership was that he never felt entitled to any leadership position, nor demanded to be the President of the ANC. Whenever he was challenged by anyone, he always insisted that he will only lead if the members of the ANC wanted him to lead. Comrade OR was always clear that he was the President' of the ANC because of the democratic will of our members and not because he had an innate right to lead. His leadership was founded on the desire to serve his people, and not because he was power hungry or a power-monger. He was always prepared to place the interests of the ANC and its historical liberation task first. Comrade OR always understood that the ANC is bigger than any individual – even a hugely competent and important leader like himself. He understood that there is something wrong with your character if opportunity controls your loyalty.
That is why stated in his opening remarks at both the Kabwe and Morogoro Conferences upfront that if the delegates so wished he was prepared to step down as President of the ANC. It was because of this selfless preparedness to serve and to accept the democratic will of the members of the ANC that he was able to emerge from these times of crisis in the ANC stronger and with an unequivocal mandate to continue to lead the ANC.
Comrades it does not help us to deny that the ANC is now again going through a very difficult period. The last while we have experienced an unprecedented period of open disagreements and tensions within the ANC. Sadly there are comrades who do not seem to care for the preservation of our beloved Liberation Movement anymore. Instead of dealing with their concerns and the tensions in the ANC inside our democratic organisational structures they have shown no restraint to take these problems outside the ANC into the public domain. In doing so, they have made common cause with some of the worst enemies of the ANC - with people and reactionary organisations that want to roll back the gains of our liberation struggle and prevent the Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) from ever being implemented.
When dealing with the challenges of exile comrade OR in his great wisdom forewarned us that once we have achieved a democratic society and implemented the First Phase of the NDR this situation will arise. He warned us that if we think it is difficult to conduct a liberation struggle, we must wait until we are in government and faced with the difficulties to govern.
Comrade OR in his wisdom knew that there would be some of our comrades who would be enticed by the possibilities of enriching themselves in government and to make common cause with our former enemies. He also foresaw that the enemy – who want to hold onto their ill-gotten apartheid spoils - will do everything within their means to entice comrades to join their ranks and to start seeing their own interests as similar to those of our White Monopoly Capitalist (WMC) enemies. He thus warned us in no uncertain terms that these comrades will no longer work to unite us in the fight for full economic liberation, but will rather go full out to divide us. That the enemy agenda of divide and rule will also end up becoming the agenda of these so-called comrades who will become the enemy within. At this critical time in our history, we must indeed head the warning words of comrade OR: “Beware of the wedge driver watch his poisonous tongue”.
The full quote of what comrade OR said in 1969 at the Morogoro Conference is worth repeating in our current context:
“Delegates must wage a relentless war against disrupters and defend the ANC against the provocateurs and enemy agents. Defend the revolution against enemy propaganda, whatever form it takes.
Be vigilant comrades; the enemy is vigilant. Beware of the wedge driver, a man who creeps from ear to ear carrying a bag of wedges, driving them between you and the next man, between a group and another. A man who goes around creating splits and divisions.
Beware of wedge drivers, comrades, watch their poisonous tongues. And now, wedge drivers who have been working behind closed doors against the whole liberation movement and its policies have come into the open.
They are of an impure load which every revolutionary carries, and when that load is thrown aside the journey to victory is always a swifter one. The enemy hidden inside in the same colour is the most dangerous one.”
Comrades, it is indeed true that the enemy hidden in the same colour, wearing the same regalia, singing our own songs, and appearing to be more revolutionary than the revolution itself, is the most dangerous one.
We are seeing it again today with what is transpiring at the renegade MK National Council conference that is currently taking place at Nasrec. The official organisational structures of the ANC are totally being disregarded. Even the complaints process that some individuals who are part of the MKM National Council activated with the ANC NEC, because MKMVA has carried out our legitimate duties and convened our constitutionally legitimate 5th National Conference in June, is being disregarded by them having convened this rebel conference.
It is evident that their intention has never been to raise genuine concerns, but simply to bring factional divisions between the veterans of MK. They hate the unequivocal commitment of MKMVA to the implementation of Radical Economic Transformation (RET), and in the service of their White Monopoly Capitalist masters, they are prepared to do anything to derail us. Yes, indeed comrade OR was correct to say: “Comrades, beware the wedge drivers!”
Comrade OR taught us that the best way to deal with such attempted diversions in order to steer us away from our cause and to derail the revolution is to stay with our revolutionary commitment to implement our liberation struggle fully. Therefore, the answer of MKMVA to the diversionary attacks that are now being launched at us is to simply strengthen our resolve to secure the implementation of Radical Economic Transformation and to ensure that the correct comrade that is committed to RET will emerge at our National Elective Conference as the President of the ANC.
Comrade while we debate all over the place about who have captured whom, or who is trying to capture the state, the state is already well and truly captured by White Monopoly Capital!
If the ANC is to be true to its roots and the Freedom Charter of 1956, that not only states that "the people shall govern", but also that "the people shall share the resources and wealth of the land", then this situation of the general capture and control of our beloved country by White Monopoly Capital cannot be accepted, and has to be challenged.
This is exactly the challenge that is posed to all the members of the ANC, and because a small but very influential sector of the ANC's membership has been co-opted (one can also say captured) by White Monopoly Capital, we are faced with a serious problem. They have significantly more influence than what one would expect from their small numbers because they have access to finances, are often better educated, and have more access to the mainstream media and social media (which makes them powerful in shaping narrative frames and messages that are favourable to their cause).
They have a high opinion of themselves, and consider themselves to have the 'ability' and 'right' to be the leaders of our society. This attitude we are seeing again now from those who are having their factional MK National Council gathering at NASREC. This sense of entitlement over and truly above the vast majority of South Africans is a very serious problem, and it is becoming increasingly pronounced within the ANC.
Those in the ANC who have not given up on the ideal of fundamental economic transformation, and the need to totally change the economic power dynamics so that the majority of (especially African) South Africans can own the land and the means of production, are increasingly seen by this small group of comprador black capitalists as a threat to their interests.
Thus some very serious divisions have opened within the ANC. These divisions are seen by the White Monopoly Capitalists as a God-send, which they can exploit to do what they have always been doing, namely to divide and rule. They use their ownership and control of the mainstream media very effectively to do that. We have to understand that until we have our own economic system, they will steal from us, and until we have our own media, they will lie to us.
Because President Zuma, and the current ANC leadership associated with him, have increasingly been moving towards challenging the economic inequalities in South Africa, White Monopoly Capital (and the black comprador capitalist class that they have largely co-opted) have felt increasingly threatened. This is the main reason why the mainstream media so viciously attack President Zuma. In fact, the attacks on the president himself is quiet co-incidental, these attacks are not about him as an individual, they are about preventing him and the ANC leadership that supports him from implementing Radical Economic Transformation.
This year after the President delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) the attacks against him, and those comrades associated with him, reached a frenzy. This situation must be understood in the context of what the President announced:
- Return the land to the people using Constitutional means, and finally shaking off the dead weight of the 'willing buyer - willing seller' millstone.
- Invest money in the township and rural communities and ensure we build post- apartheid cities in our rural areas and vibrant businesses in our townships.
- Compel big contractors to sub-contract at least 30% of all state business to small black-owned enterprises. This is a critical measure that will ensure that R 150 billion will flow to smaller (primarily black-owned) businesses.
- Massive roll-out of broadband infrastructure, ensuring connectivity of schools, universities, hospitals, police stations and other public areas.
- Implement the Maputo Declaration and ensure 10% of GDP goes to agricultural development.
- Turn South Africa into a construction site; deliver water, sanitation, roads, electricity and houses.
- Diversify ownership in the financial services sector, licence the Post Bank, introduce new players and transform the industry in favour of the people as a whole.
- Ensure that the finalised National Minimum Wage will be effectively implemented and will contribute to give income security to all South Africans
- Increase the requirement for black ownership in mines, ensure that a significant amount is in the hands of the workers and advance local beneficiation.
- Implement free higher education for the poor and produce no fewer than 5000 PhDs per annum by 2030, and urgently generate more artisans.
- Review SA’s trade policies to prioritise national interest and support and promote local business.
- Mercilessly deal with corruption, fighting both the tigers and the flies.
Let's concentrate on two of these twelve points to highlight why what the President announced is so feared by White Monopoly Capital and their hangers-on:
1. Land restitution is a cornerstone of Radical Economic Transformation. The President's commitment to take all the necessary measures to overcome the legislative hurdles that hold back the passing and implementation of the Restitution of Land Rights Act is critical to its success but instils fear among White Monopoly Capitalists. This is primarily because the President committed the ANC to shake off the dead weight of the 'willing buyer - willing seller millstone'. Furthermore, the President also did not simply reject the possibility of forming strategic alliances with other political parties in the pursuance of possibly even changing the Constitution in order to return the land to its rightful owners - the black (African) people of South Africa.
2. Our ANC government must be highly commended for the gazetted regulations that compel big contractors to sub-contract at least 30% of all state business to small black-owned enterprises. This is a critical measure that will ensure that R 150 billion will flow to smaller (primarily black-owned) businesses. Under President Zuma's leadership, it is a powerful intervention by government to tackle the anti- competitive practices of monopolies. They fear the implementation of these regulations, and furthermore fear that the threshold could in future be pushed to 50% or even higher.
Radical Economic Transformation must with specific, and well-planned interventions bring about a fundamental re-alignment of the balance of forces in our economy. Radical Economic Transformation must once and for all bring an end to the control of our economy by the white minority who have ceded democratic power at the ballot box, but continued to hold onto their control of the economy of our country.
President Zuma has quite correctly pointed out that democratic power without economic power is incomplete and hamstrung. This fundamental transformation of the balance of forces must be broad-based, and must impact on the economic power and transformation of the lives and fortunes of the majority of black (especially African) people of our country. We must avoid at all costs that it simply becomes a transition from a small white elite with monopoly economic power to a small black elite with monopoly economic power.
Thus Comrade Sihle Zikalala, the Chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal, must be commended and supported for his recent statements in which he committed himself to ensure that Radical Economic Transformation will be broad-based and truly empowering of the largest possible cross-section of our population.
With his commitment to Radical Economic Transformation - as spelled out in the ANC 12 Point plan that he announced at SONA - together with his decision to take control of the National Treasury, the President has shown himself and the ANC that he leads prepared to take on White Monopoly Capital and to deliver the Second Phase of our National Democratic Revolution. All ANC members who are concerned about their own economic empowerment and the empowerment of the majority of South Africans have to support the President and all the ANC leadership that are committed to this cause of action.
It is important to understand that the cornerstone of the ownership and control of the state has always been the National Treasury, it's associated agencies and the Reserve Bank, which constitutes the financial cluster of the state. Since 1994 the ANC as the ruling has in reality never exercised political autonomy in relation to appointments to strategic positions in the financial cluster of the state.
However, this has for the first time changed during the recent cabinet reshuffle with the removal of the Finance Minister and Deputy-Minister of Finance, without the approval of White Monopoly Capital. We as rank and file ANC members in our branches must highly support President Zuma for his courage to have done this. It seems that finally we have reached the end of unfettered White Monopoly Capitalist domination - at least with regards to the state and the ANC as the ruling party.
However, we must understand that this is a red flag to White Monopoly Capital, they are now facing the very real danger that the ground that has been gained from them at Treasury can eventually shift the economic power dynamics to such an extent that they can actually loose control of 'their' captured state.
At this critical juncture in the history of our beloved Movement and our country it is important to understand that the contestation of forces described above are at its severest, and the contradictions between White Monopoly Capitalists (and those hangers- on who benefit from being associated with them), and the genuine interests of the majority of South Africans are at their deepest. Now more than ever before we have to be clear about what the Freedom Charter - that critical foundation stone of the ANC - calls on us to achieve: Namely that the people shall govern, and must share in the wealth of our land.
The ANC is truly the only hope for the poor people of South Africa. It has to be the vanguard of the Second Phase of our National Democratic Revolution, which must be Radical Economic Transformation.
It is our revolutionary duty to avoid at all costs that the ANC gets captured by White Monopoly Capital. We have to resist the efforts of so-called comrades who have already joined the forces of WMC, but still try to present themselves to us as so-called moral crusaders and comrades. They are wolves in sheep's clothes! How can one be dedicated to the non-racial and economic justice ideals of the ANC, and then match together with racist opposition parties such as the DA, or even worse Afriforum, for the removal of our democratically elected President? We have all seen some of the awful racist slogans on the placards in those so-called Save South Africa marches!
We as branches now have a critical revolutionary duty to consider all of these issues and challenges, and to make the correct decisions in order to protect our ANC. In deliberating our Economic Policies and Strategy and Tactics let us be clear to support progressive and fundamental transformation. Let us make sure that we support Radical Economic Transformation throughout.
Furthermore when we deliberate about candidates to take over from President Zuma as President at the National Elective Conference in December, and candidates for the
National Executive Committee (NEC), let us be clear about who are the comrades who are committed to the Freedom Charter and it's implementation through Radical Economic Transformation. We have to ensure that they are nominated and eventually elected.
MKMVA has declared very clearly that we support comrade Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the correct person to become the next president of the ANC. Comrade Nkosazana is very clear about her commitment to Radical Economic Transformation, and she has spelt that commitment out without allowing herself to be distracted even by comrades within our ranks who are attacking her. Some of those attacks take on the most horrible sexist and patriarchal nature, but she does not allow herself to be distracted.
We in MKMVA commend comrade Nkosazana for the positive, policy-driven campaign that she is conducting. We fully agree with her that negative and destructive attacks on other candidates should be avoided. Instead we must concentrate on building principled unity on the basis of our commitment to RET and to secure the implementation of the Second Phase of the National Democratic Revolution.
Comrades, it is not an overstatement to say that the future of our revolution is truly in your hands! We must execute this responsibility never forgetting where we come from - we dare never betray the masses of our people who cry out for economic justice!
Issued on behalf of the President of MKMVA, Comrade Kebby Maphatsoe, 7 October 2017