ADDRESS BY THE TREASURER GENERAL OF THE ANC, COMRADE PAUL MASHATILE, ON THE OCCASION OF THE MPUMALANGA PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE
NEC Deployees here present Veterans of our movement The Leadership of the ANC in the province of Mpumalanga Branch Leaders of the ANC The leadership of the ANC Youth League; the ANC Women’s League and the ANC Veterans League
Leaders of Alliance structures: the SACP, COSATU and SANCO
Leaders of COSAS, SASCO, the YCL and Progressive Youth Alliance
Leaders of fraternal organizations
Comrades and Friends:
I bring to this Mpumalanga Provincial Conference of our glorious movement – the African National Congress – warm and revolutionary greetings from the Officials and the National Executive Committee of the ANC.
As you have gathered for this Conference – which is the first Provincial Conference of our movement since the COVID-19 pandemic – the eyes of our country, and of all those who love the ANC are upon you.
They are wishing you well. They are wishing you a successful Conference. Comrades, we must remember that those who love the ANC are not just in South Africa, but also across our continent.
As the oldest liberation movement on the continent, our struggle has inspired millions of other freedom fighters and many other liberation movements. These fellow revolutionaries are looking to up to us with hope to chart a path forward.
Comrades, the ANC is also admired beyond the shores of our continent.
In countries such as Sweden, Russia, the UK, Canada, India and China, many opened their homes to our comrades.
They showered us with warmth and love. They stood in solidarity with us. As we are gathered here we must also demonstrate to the peoples of the world that their efforts were not in vain – the ANC they helped nurture is indeed alive. On Sunday, when we conclude this Conference, we must look back and say that this Conference of the ANC in Mpumalanga was a model for how all other provincial conferences, as well as Congresses of our Leagues, should be conducted.
This Conference must be a model of the very best of our movement, and the very best of our cadres. From all you, comrade delegates, we expect high revolutionary discipline. We expect of you to engage and debate issues robustly, without fear or favour.
Even as we differ, we must do so in a comradely spirit. At all times we must remind ourselves that the ANC is our home. We know of no other home. Without our home we have nowhere to go. This Conference must help dispel the myth that as ANC comrades, we cannot differ in a democratic way;
that we only care about positions and material accumulation for ourselves.
This Conference needs to reaffirm that the ANC is about addressing the plight of the people of South Africa; and that to us the revolution is about the people.
Comrades we are calling for maximum unity. We are calling for iron discipline. We are also calling for a steely determination to ensure that the ANC in this province emerges even stronger after this Conference.
Let those who want to disrupt our Conference not succeed. Let those who prefer violence and intimidation find no space in our midst. Let them be isolated; and let them face harsh consequences for their actions.
MPUMALANGA IS THE HOME OF OUR STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION
Comrades, as we deliberate at this Conference, let us be reminded that Mpumalanga is home to a rich, progressive and proud heritage of our liberation struggle. Among others, it was here in the province of Mpumalanga, in Bethal, where the Potato Boycott took place;
where black farm workers organized, themselves to reject the tyranny of the conditions they expected to work in.
Those brave farm workers directly confronted the power of the state and that of white farmers.
This province is also the site of the Tebe-Tebe Bridge in Matsulu; used by many activists to flee the country across the crocodile infested Crocodile River, into exile in Swaziland and Mozambique. It was also here in the province of Mpumalanga that the historic Delmas Trial was held; signifying the sacrifices and absolute dedication of those fearless freedom fighters who were charged with treason.
This is the province of the great Gert Sibande; one of the accused in the Treason Trial of 1956 to 1961. This is also the province of that highly respected MK combatant Comrade January Masilela, which a Conference of this nature once elected as its provincial secretary.
This is the province of the late Comrade Jackson Mthembu. I am told that the church where Comrade Mvelase’s final sendoff was held, was once bombed by the regime because it was a meeting place of freedom fighters in the 80s.
This province is also the birth place of Vincent Tshabalala, Nokuthula Simelane, Eric Liberty and Thomas Mahlangu who paid the ultimate prize for our liberation.
Many other fearless young lions who gave up all for our liberation also called Mpumalanga home. For many of us in my generation, memories of the 1990 Kanyamazane Congress of the then South African Youth Congress are still fresh.
This was the first Congress of SAYCO, since its founding in 1987. At that epoch marking Conference, Comrade President Peter Mokaba declared boldly that; “Today, we celebrate the victories we have won in our struggle.”
Comrade Peter also reminded us that even though we have won some important battles, we have not yet won the war against apartheid.
This reminder remains valid up to this day. Indeed, even though we have won some important battles, the war for the total emancipation of the people of South Africa is not yet won.