ANC SG Gwede Mantashe Address to SACCAWU 9th National Congress
UNDERSTANDING THE CURRENT CHALLENGES FACING OUR MOVEMENT
The unity and cohesion is paramount for the movement to face the ideological assault is subjected to today and in the future. Uniting the people of South Africa is captured in the constitution as the first aim and objective of the ANC. Attacking the unity of the movement is an attack on the essence and the reason for its existence. Any such attack is aimed at reducing its capacity of the movement to serve people of South Africa. It is important that the leadership and membership of the ANC be reminded that this is not a new programme that as resulted from the anger over the recall of comrade Thabo Mbeki as it is projected to be. It is not just an expression of anger but an ideological assault by a tendency that seeks to imprison our movement to the elitist control that developed over a decade. In the view of this it is important to make sense of the threats that the movement faced from time to time over the last ten years at least.
The possibility of a split became an immediate possibility after the Polokwane conference. We must however appreciate that it is an option that has been entertained by some in the leadership of the movement for some time. There are few of our leaders who have predicted the split in a number of ways and others invested time and energy in making it a reality in action at least. The realignment of class forces has always been seen as inevitable as the democracy matures. The beginning of the journey to a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society has taken us a step forward in terms of resolving the racial contradictions in society.
Since 1994 strides have been made in the area of gender inequality. The formal democracy has presented opportunities for some blacks and women to advance without resolving the social realities of apartheid. The apartheid production relations remain intact with the class contradictions at their sharpest. The realignment of class forces predicted was informed by the appreciation that the sharpening of class contradictions would translate into serious conflict within or movement. The multi-class character of the liberation movement reflects the demographics of or society and the sharpening of class contradictions within our movement would therefore spill over into society.
Over the last ten years the movement has become more and more divided and polarised but the disagreements have been managed within the structures of the movement. The serious disagreements among alliance partners over the economic policies in the late 1990s and early 2000s captured the class contradictions in the movement. The general strikes over these economic policies organised by COSATU pushed the alliance to the brink. Labelling COSATU and the SACP leaders as the ultra-left and counter-labelling of the ANC leadership as neo-liberal was a manifestation of the heightened tensions in the movement. The illusion that the left could be elbowed out of the ANC and create a pure ANC was prevalent at some point. The Stellenbosch conference was held in an environment where the left was marginalised and kept in the periphery. The pronouncements by the emerging splinter group confirms the depth of the view that the ANC must be defended from being taken over by communists. The theme is not only dangerous it seeks to wipe out the history of our movement.
The suggestion that the SACP should not continue being sustained on the back of the ANC came from both the left and the right. It is during this period that the idea of the SACP contesting elections independently of the ANC found resonance among many activists of the party. The emotional reaction to the tensions in the alliance was equally dangerous I that it complimented the desire to collapse the alliance. The prediction that the ANC would then be a centrist party without being forced to look over its shoulder for there action o the left allies, a position would have marked a rightward shift for the ANC. Cadres of the movement defended the movement and the alliance from splitting. The proud history of the ANC being a disciplined force of the left survived all ideological attacks. It is this ideological outlook of the ANC that is being attacked and questioned.
The dismissal of Deputy-President of the ANC from government and subsequent charges by the National Prosecuting Authority changed the nature of the conflict and hid the class nature of the contestation. This divided the movement into those who accepted that it was the prerogative of the President of the Republic to dismiss the Deputy-President from government and those who believed that this was unfair treatment of the Deputy-President. This has been central to the ongoing division in the movement. The National General Council in 2005 saved the Deputy-President within the structures of the movement. This contestation continued into the Polokwane National Conference of the ANC. The electoral contest in Polokwane took the form of those who preferred that comrade Mbeki continue and tae the third term and those who chose change as the preferred route. It was lear to all and sundry that the leaders of the campaign for the third term refused to accept the outcome of the conference. There have been attempts to contest the ANC at provincial level with the hope that this faction would take control of more provinces. The plan was to use such control of the province to call for a National General Council in which a vote of no confidence on the current national leadership would be moved. When it became clear that the balance of forces was against them in any provinces the conference would be disrupted, violently in most instances.
The strategy has failed dismally and the next phase of the strategy had to be implemented. The flooding of the offices of the ANC with complaints and recycling of such complaints over and over has ben part of the strategy to defocus the ANC and heighten discontent within the structures of the ANC. We engaged the comrades whenever they raised their unhappiness with the task teams sent from one province to the next to get a sense of the depth of unhappiness. Our provinces have not been helpful in that they become suspicious whenever a team is sent. In some instances they victimised comrades who dared raise their complaints with head office. Provincial leaders in a number cases continue to marginalise those who did not support them in provincial conferences. This is not helpful in that in the current environment such comrades will find the reason for joining forces with the breakaway group because they are not given a sense that the ANC remains their home. The responsibility of uniting the movement is primarily the responsibility of the leadership and cannot be outsourced.
In the recent past we have raised the threat posed by the regrouping of the counter-revolutionary forces. We have cited the proposition of the opposition parties forming a coalitions and ultimately merging, not on the basis of principles, ideology or common programme, but on the basis of their desire to form a block against the ANC. Many of them have been worried about the dominance of the ANC in the South African political space. There were those who wished and prayed for the division of the ANC and thus weakening the movement in the long term. The observation made by comrade Thabo Mbeki in June 2004 captured this reality when he said, ‘many of those who are convinced that the ANC must be weakened and defeated are convinced that individually and collectively the opposition partied do not have the strength and capacity to achieve this goal. They are therefore permanently on the look out for enemies of our movement that would have the possibility to accomplish this objective, whom they would obviously encourage and support. A favourite hunting ground for these enemies is within the ANC itself, the alliance and the brad democratic movement. The popular thesis is that the strongest and best opposition to the ANC will come from within the organisation, as well as the broad democratic movement.” the embracement of the Terror Lekota initiative by all opposition parties make the words of comrade Mbeki very prophetic in retrospect.
It is therefore obvious that this breakaway is not in the interest o the poor and the working people of South Africa nor is it in the interest of the so-called disgruntled members of the ANC. It is a self-serving initiative by a tendency obsessed with power. It is serving the interests of long standing opponents of or movement and our revolution. Opportunistic elements within the movement will see this as an opportunity for upward mobility. This is the reason of councillors and MPLs threatening to move to the new party, with hope that we will bend backward. The list process is going to complicate the already complex situation, with many comrades waiting in the wings to see where they are placed in the list. During this pen season those who are lower down in the list will threaten to leave with some ultimately leaving. We must therefore come up with a clear programme that will give clarity to our people and equip the cadres of the movement with the tools to the defend the ANC. This will require commitment by the members of the ANC and availability for deployment. The following steps must be taken, involving the ANC Youth League, the ANC Womens’ League and the alliance partners in all activities:-
- we must expel those who have declared their intention to join the new movement so that they cannot speak for the ANC and use the ANC structures and infrastructure to destroy the movement from within.
- We must organise RGCs in as many regions as possible on Sunday 19 October 2008 meaning that the alliance summit must be finished on Saturday.
- These should be followed by assemblies of cadres in as many regions as possible on Sunday 26 October 2008, where activists in every region are mobilised to defend the revolution.
- Mini-rallies should be organised for the week-end 01-02 November at least one per province. The preference is that we should target areas instead of big provincial rallies. In this way we will cover more people in smaller meetings.
- The door-to-door work should continue as part of mobilising our people for the 2009 elections and in defence of or movement.
- The alliance partners, the leagues of the movement, the broad democratic movement, MKMVA must be mobilised at all levels of or movement.
- We must move beyond the structures and membership of our movement. We must engage society in the various organised formations and in public meetings.