“THE REAL RENEWAL OF THE ANC”:
POLITICAL LECTURE BY THE ANC TREASURER GENERAL, PAUL MASHATILE
The Leadership of the Vincent Tshabalala Branch of the ANC
ANC Leaders from Zone 13
Veterans of our liberation struggle; including Comrade Welile Nhlapho, Comrade Wally Serote, Comrade Joe Manana, Comrade Josia Jele and Comrade Nkale Ntingana
Members of the National Executive Committee, here present
Members of the Provincial Executive Committee
Leaders from the Greater Joburg Region of the ANC
Leaders of the ANC Women’s League, the ANC Youth League and the Veterans League
Our Alliance partners
Leaders of COSAS, SASCO, the YCL and the Progressive Youth Alliance
Representatives of government at all levels
Leaders of fraternal organisations
Comrades and friends:
It is my privilege to deliver this Lecture on the real renewal of the African National Congress.
I am also humbled to be sharing the stage with veterans of our movement who come from here in Alex.
It is these veterans who showed us the way to freedom. They were there to guide us, to offer us moral support and to call us to order when we lose our way.
We are today better people because of them. And for that we are eternally grateful.
I am also sharing this platform with fellow comrades whom I shared trenches with here in Alex.
Together we have engaged in many struggles. We have suffered many setbacks. We have lost friends and loved ones.
However, we have also won many victories.
Our youth-full innocence was taken away, but we are still soldiering on.
May the fighting spirit that has been embedded in us never dimmish!
THE ROLE OF ALEXANDRA IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN LIBERATION STRUGGLE
Comrades, we proudly claim Alex as the home of our liberation struggle – the home of the African National Congress!
Alex is also a home to many of our revered heroes and heroines.
Just as Alex is our historic home, it is important that as we move forward the renewal of our movement must find genuine expression here in Alex.
I, therefore, trust that this Lecture will help position ANC structures in Alex at the centre of efforts to renew, rebuild and unite our movement.
Comrades, the story of the South African liberation struggle liberation will be incomplete without mentioning Alexandra, the many heroic battles that took place here and the many liberation icons that once called Alex their home.
Since its establishment in 1912, Alexandra has been synonymous with our struggle for liberation.
It is the place where many important victories were won.
Alex was one of the few urban areas where Black people could own land under a freehold title.
In its early days, Alex had integrated communities, where people across the racial and ethnic divide lived peacefully side by side.
Many of those who came from outside our country, especially from neighbouring African countries, and contributed to building our economy chose Alex as their home.
It was in places like Alexandra where the early seeds of the kind of society we seek to build were planted – a meting pot of cultures, traditions and histories – a community united in its diversity.
It was also here in Alex that the longest Bus Boycott in 1940, against fare increases, was organised.
The resilience and persistence of the people of Alex eventually paid off, after six months of the boycott, when authorities backed down on their planned fare increases.
The rallying call of the 1940 Bus Boycott; “Azikhwelwa!” was also used to mobilize the people of Alex in three subsequent bus boycotts.
These boycotts forced government at the time to pass a law requiring employers to subsidize the transportation of their workers to and from work.
In the early 1940s Alexandra was also the scene of forced removals as the National Party government implemented its racist laws.
These laws included the 1913 Land Act which prescribed that freehold-rights had to be taken away from those residents who owned their properties.
Consistent with Alex’s reputation as a site of struggle and a place where many victories were won, the people of Alex resisted attempts to demolish their township and relocate them.
Organized under the banner of the “Save Alex Campaign,” led, among others by Reverend Sam Buti, they waged a relentless campaign to save their township from suffering the same fate as other “black spots” in close proximity to white suburbs.
We also recall that before the passing of the Bantu Education Act in 1957, the people of Alex mounted resistance towards their schools being subjected to the inferior system of Bantu Education.
They preferred rather the private and missionary schools which were already providing quality education in the area.
In 1979 Alex was once again saved from demolition, marking yet another victory by Alex’s courageous people.
These victories, by the people of Alex, took our struggle for a non-racial future a few steps forward.
We take this opportunity to applaud all those who stood firm against the oppressive apartheid regime.
Their acts of extra-ordinary bravery and courage have not gone unnoticed.
We count them among the heroes and heroines of our liberation struggle.
They laid the foundation for the freedom and democracy we today enjoy.
We also remember that Alex was one of the places where early organs of people’s power were put into action.
These included civic organizations, religious formations, street, block, and yard committees.
Alex is also among the places where youth and student congresses were visible and active at the height of apartheid rule.
Faced with the stark choice of freedom or death, young people from Alex insisted on freedom in their lifetime. Eventually freedom was won in 1994.
Many epic battles against the apartheid security forces such as the “Six Days War” were fought in this township.
Alex is also the scene of many heroic acts by fearless freedom fighters such as Vincent Tshabalala, after whom this branch of the ANC was named.
Comrade Vincent faced his brutal death while in combat with the apartheid security forces.
Alex was also a place where many outstanding leaders of our struggle called home.
We count among them former President Nelson Mandela, former Mozambican President Samora Machel, former Deputy President Kgalema Mothlante, Alfred Nzo, Joe Modise and many others.
Alex became a thriving hub of cultural and sporting activity. It was also a place where social trends were set.
Outstanding artists such as Simon “Mahlathini” Nkabinde, Ntemi Piliso, the Mahotela Queens and the Dark City Sisters are associated with Alex.
Many legends and pioneers in the sporting field are also proud to have called Alex their home.
Here we refer to Dr Leepile Taunyane, Abednigo “Shaka” Ngcobo, Dr Irvin Khoza and many others.
We are grateful for the contribution made by all these patriots to the development of our society.
We also thank the people of Alex for making available these finest sons and daughters, to enrich us all with their exemplary lives and lives well lived.
RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME
Comrades, accelerating the pace at which we are addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality remains our immediate task in the current phase of the National Democratic Revolution.
In addressing these challenges, we said, we will be more direct, more deliberate, and more decisive.
We are alive to the reality that nowhere are these triple challenges more prevalent than in Alexandra.
Only a few minutes from where we are, across the highway in Sandton, we see massive amounts of wealth accumulation, which continues to elude the people of Alexandra.
We owe it to the people of Alex – who have such a rich and proud history of struggle – to do everything necessary to ensure that they too benefit from the fruits of liberation.
The people of Alex also deserve a better life.
In this regard, we must redouble our efforts to provide quality, reliable and affordable services to the people of this community.
This include the provision and maintenance of infrastructure that meets the needs of the people, including housing, health care facilities, proper roads and recreational facilities.
We must continue to strengthen investment in the education of the children of Alex, to prepare them for a future brighter than that of their parents.
Efforts to fight crime, lawlessness, the destruction of public infrastructure, gender-based violence and the abuse of women and children must be strengthened.
Government must expand the social security net to ensure that none of those who are most vulnerable in this community are left behind.
Comrades, the greatest and most impactful intervention we can make in Alex is to grow the local economy, support local SMMEs, build local industries and create sustainable jobs for the people of Alex.
We applaud the Gauteng Provincial Government for passing the Township Economy Development Bill.
This Bill will go a long way in transforming township spaces, socially economically and spatially.
It will help bring township businesses into the economic mainstream.
It will help us use government and private sector procurement to boost local production and local procurement.
Comrades as you know, the people of Alex are innovative. They have proven their resilience. They are industrious.
They have what it takes to run successful businesses. They are capable of building for themselves sustainable livelihoods.
We therefore call on our government to hold their hand as they seek to better their lives.
On this important occasion we wish to assure the people of Alex that the ANC and the ANC government are on your side.
We will never abandon you. The ANC is your home!
We will continue to work with you in addressing your plight.
RENEWAL AND UNITY OF THE ANC
For the ANC to continue to address the plight of the people of Alex and elsewhere in our country, it needs to be united, revived and renewed.
Equally, for our movement to reclaim its historic place as a trusted leader of society its needs to be renewed.
It is for these reasons that we have identified renewal as a non-negotiable task of our time.
It is our generational mission that we intend to complete in our lifetime.
Even as we may meet some obstacles and challenges on our chosen path of renewal, we shall not be deterred.
We will soldier on, until victory is achieved.
We continue to make some progress in renewing and rebuilding our movement.
However, we must act with greater purpose and urgency going forward.
We need to renew the ANC in order to restore its relevance, and to narrow the social distance with the people.
Renewal will enhance the ANC’s capability and credibility as an effective force for transformation and a trusted agent for change.
A renewed ANC is an ANC that is not pre-occupied with itself and its internal dynamics.
It is an ANC that is in touch with communities – an ANC that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Renewal requires that we deal decisively with the reality that many of our structures are in a poor state.
They are focused on internal organizational conflicts, factionalism and furthering the self-interest of individual leaders.
They have abandoned the people they are meant to serve. We must reverse this!
Renewal is also about renewing our commitment to the progressive values of the ANC including hard work, honesty, selflessness, democratic debate, discipline, criticism and self-criticism.
Renewal is about strengthening the organisational culture, winning the fight against corruption and building an ethical, responsive movement.
Furthermore, renewal is about modernising the ANC, building its agility and ability to adapt to changing conditions
A renewed ANC will be better placed to demand accountability from its leadership and deployees in government.
Within a renewed ANC, members will be able to debate issues without retribution, in appropriate forums of the organisation.
Renewal also means that the ANC must recommit to its non-racial values and traditions.
Our movement must be a home for all – a true Parliament of the people of South Africa.
Part of the renewal process must also include strengthening branches of the ANC, as the basic unit of our organization.
In this regard, all branches must have clear programmes of action, including sustained political education of members.
ANC branches also have a responsibility to lead and give direction to the daily struggles of communities.
Our branches must never be absent in the midst of challenges facing communities.
The ANC must be the first point of call for communities when they face problems.
ANC members must participate actively not only in ANC branch meetings, but also in other organs of people’s power such as School Governing Bodies, Community Policing Forums, meetings of civic associations, local sports bodies and ward committees.
This will ensure that the ANC’s transformation agenda finds expression at all levels of the community.
Renewal also places a responsibility on our cadres take personal responsibility to advance their own academic and political development.
This is linked to our efforts to improve the quality of our membership.
It will also equip our members with the tools of analysis to correctly diagnose problems and offer appropriate solutions.
It will also enable members to engage, effectively, in the battle of ideas.
Comrades, as we renew and revive our movement, let us also recommit ourselves to uniting our movement.
There can be no renewal without unity!
At all times we must remember that unity is the very basis upon which our organization was founded. It is, therefore, sacrosanct!
Unity is a fundamental principle and pillar on which as the ANC we stand or fall.
Let us also make it clear that we are not pursuing unity for its own sake.
Ours is principled unity, based on shared values and a single-mindedness of purpose.
Comrades, it is only a renewed and united ANC that will survive beyond 2024, into our second centenary and beyond.
We know that many have started writing the ANC’s obituary, claiming that 2024 will be then end of us.
Let us disappoint them.
Let us spare no effort in building our movement – the movement of the proud people of Alex.
As we do this work, we must be brave, courageous and steadfast like the people of Alex.
We must summon the courage of the people of this community as we face challenges along the way. We must not give up!
Comrades, our 55th National Conference is upon us.
Let us go to that Conference, single minded in our purpose of uniting, renewing and rebuilding the ANC.
Let us also use the opportunity of Conference to sharpen our response to the problems facing the people of South Africa.
The whole country and the whole world will be watching us.
Let us therefore conduct ourselves in a manner befitting of cadres of the glorious movement: the African National Congress.
Let none of us be ill-disciplined. Let none of us be disruptive.
Even if we may hold different views and have different leadership preferences let us engage each other in a comradely manner, remembering that we all belong to one ANC.
We have no other home. We know of no other home.
In addition to electing leaders, let us also spend time on the policy debates that will be before Conference.
Ultimately, at the end of our Conference we must be able to say in one voice: Asinamona asinanzondo, siyayidumisa i ANC!
ANC umbutho wethu!