Address by Limpopo ANC Chairperson Cde Cassel Mathale during the ANC Vhembe Regional Conference, Vhembe District

Address by Limpopo ANC Chairperson Cde Cassel Mathale during the ANC Vhembe Regional Conference, Vhembe District

18 May 2012

NEC members
PEC members present here
REC members
The leadership of the Alliance structures
The leadership of the Women`s League, ANCYL and the entire PYA structures (YCL, SASCO & COSAS)
Delegates
Distinguished guests
Comrades

Receive revolutionary greetings from the Provincial Executive Committee of the African National Congress. First and foremost, we would like to congratulate you for organizing this important and highest political platform in this region of Vhembe. It is important to note that the success of this Conference depends on its outcomes, especially the way forward on the construction of a strong movement that has the capacity to change the living conditions of our people.

Comrades

In a few hours, we will be bidding farewell to the mortal remains of one of the seasoned leaders of the movement in the province and this region, cde George Phadagi, who was instrumental in the underground structures of the movement and during the reestablishment of ANC structures after the unbanning of the movement.

Cde Phadagi was a humble leader and member of the African National Congress, who was prepared to serve the movement and the people of South Africa with respect and dignity. He never undermined his deployments for he understood that a true cadre must be ready to serve the movement and the people in various capacities.

Despite the fact that he was part of the leadership that was responsible to reorganise the structures of the movement in the province, he never assumed ownership over positions of the organisation.

He never boasted about the role he played in the movement for he was a humbled leader. This is one of the important lessons we must learn from cde George Phadagi who knew that a political deployment is not personal success. This made it possible for him not to personalise positions in the movement.

He well understood that positions belonged to the movement, and not to individuals, something that many of our comrades are battling to understand. He was never obsessed with positions of the movement. The problem with being obsessed about positions is that you end up concluding that no other person must lead except yourself.

Cde Phadagi was a trusted cadre who represented the movement with great determination and zeal to succeed without expecting accolades.

In cde Phadagi, this region offered to the struggle for freedom and the movement a true humble cadre of rooted qualities. Therefore, as we meet in this Conference we should always bear in mind that we are walking on the footprints of an honourable leader that offered immensely to the struggle for freedom and the construction of a new South Africa. May the soul of cde George Phadagi rest in peace. We will forever remember his valuable contribution.

Comrades

This important conference is taking place at the time when Europe economy is still going through a difficult movement. The downward economic situation in Europe has already affected many people and countries directly, forcing voters and parliaments to change leaders in the affected countries.

Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, and most recently France have experienced a change at the political leadership level on account of austerity measures which are caused by a negative economic outlook within the EuroZone nations.

We must learn from what is presently happening in Europe, where masses of people are expressing their dissatisfaction with austerity measures which are aimed at reviving the economy of the EuroZone States.

Greece does not currently have a government, but an interim administration led by a Judge which is expected to be in place until the June elections produce an outright winner, something which is unlikely to happen. We should not read or analyse the EuroZone crises as something that does not affect us.

Europe is one of our major trading partners and any turbulence affecting Europe`s economy will reach our shores. Therefore, there is a need for us to ensure that our economy is not vulnerable, especially as it is still recovering from the last recession.

It is important to mention that some of the regimes that were removed were elected into office by overwhelming numbers of the electorate, but were removed within a short period of time. This is a valuable reference that should always remind us that when people are unemployed or unhappy, they can express their dissatisfaction through the ballot paper.

At the present moment our people express their dissatisfaction over various issues, especially on issues pertaining to service delivery, through violent street protests. In the past people were directing their anger and frustrations only at public properties during street protests. But now we have seen an escalation of violence being directed at the private properties of councillors.

It should not be difficult for us as members and leaders of the African National Congress to foresee that if nothing is done to create employment opportunities for our people in particular the youth, then our stay in government may be shorted.

If many of our people are still without water, sanitation facilities, electricity and proper homes, then we may not be able to pass a living and ruling organisation to the future generation.

If the economy continues to be in the hands of a tiny minority, whilst masses of our people are on at the periphery, then as the leadership of the movement we would have betrayed the long outstanding resolutions of our forefathers taken at Kliptown which are expressed through the Freedom Charter.

If we told our people that the mineral wealth of this country is their heritage, but yet a small number of individuals continue to enjoy the benefits of the minerals to the exclusion of many, then we would have deceived the course of the movement of ensuring that all people benefit from the mineral riches of this country.

The reality is that many of our people are sidelined from the mineral revolution that is taking place in our province and the country at large. The resolution of our 7th Provincial Conference that our people must become direct beneficiaries in the mineral wealth of this country is an informed and correct decision that has the capacity to unlock many doors that will place our people in a better position.

The minerals of this country must be the true property of all South Africans and they must be extracted to aid in realizing most of our objectives of improving the living conditions of our people. Those who agree that the mineral wealth of this country is the heritage our people and still promote the present setup, are not honest.

The mineral riches of our land cannot only be the heritage of our people through an Act of Parliament. The role of government cannot be limited to issuing expropriation or mining rights whilst few beneficiaries take care of the rest.

If we fail to provide immediate answers to many uncertain socio-economic realities facing our people, then anger will not only be directed at councilliors, but will also be directed at the leadership of the movement, including branch leaders and any person associated with the African National Congress. At that time it will be dangerous to be associated with the movement.

We cannot continue to work in the same old way. We must ensure that our people are exposed to job opportunities. We must ensure that our learners in schools and students in high and further education institutions receive quality education that will make them relevant to the economic direction of the country and the global village.

We need strong structures of the movement, especially at branch level, with the capacity to lead and provide direction to our communities. Of course this can only be achieved if our branches are able to answer problems facing our people.

Therefore, it is very important for our branches to be led by cadres who are grounded and able to analyse the balance of forces. Our braches will not be able to make any positive impact in the lives of our people if branch BECs` and General meetings are not convened frequently to discuss the state of the organisation and community issues.

It is very wrong for branch meetings to be sanctioned during conferences or local government elections. It is also wrong for anyone to claim ownership over a branch. This means people who control branches of the organisation in any manner they deem proper are committing a serious wrong against the movement and they must be exposed.

In certain situations branch political activities are postponed because such individuals are not available or disagree with that political programme. Furthermore, such individuals instruct other comrades not to attend branch meetings in order to frustrate the quorum of the meeting. Branches are the basic unit of the organisation and not personal properties of other individuals. No person must misread his dominant influence over a branch as ownership.

No member of the organisation must surrender his right to think and to distinguish between right and wrong to another member, regardless of the status of that person in the structures of the movement.

No member of the organisation must be threatened in order to support a particular view or candidate. Those who threaten or blackmail other members are committing wrong against the movement. Those who use money to buy delegates are a danger to the organisation.

The best method to deal with the problem of taking advantage of other comrades is to embark on an intensive political education programme. Our members must be empowered politically in order to save them from being vulnerable to abuse.

We have a responsibility to ensure that certain tendencies are not allowed to become part of our organisational culture or practices. In the event certain foreign tendencies are permitted to reside permanently amongst us, then our early demise will be guaranteed.

The unity of our structures is paramount and it must start at branches. A divided ANC cannot fulfill its responsibilities to the people. We should also be aware of those who preach unity, but act in a manner that divides the movement.

Unity and cohesion in the movement cannot be replaced by anything. The ANC must continue to be a fighting force for change that also unites the people of South Africa. The primary objective of the National Democratic Revolution is to unite the people of South Africa and this cannot be realised if the ANC is divided.

Those who are at work doing everything that threatens the unity of the movement are weakening the ANC and making the organisation vulnerable to foreign manipulations or even takeover. We must be careful of comrades who always want unity around their names. The day other comrades are used to unite the organisation then that is not unity, but something else.

We must be aware of comrades who always want to be supported, but never support other comrades.

These types of comrades are very dishonest and self centered. They always want to ascend using shoulders of other comrades, but never avail their shoulders to carry identified comrades to lead the organisation. More often those who create divisions in the organisations are selfish and opportunists who will stop at nothing to achieve their narrow political ambitions.

Comrades

Members of the ANC must treat each other with respect. No member must use organisational platforms to attack other comrades personally in order to settle political scores. Members of the organisation must not use media houses ,especially print media, to attack other comrades.

We must use proper channels, as comrades, to engage each other on political issues and open ourselves to be persuaded, as we correctly expect others to do the same. Demonstration of respect and tolerance is very fundamental in strengthening structures of the movement.

As members of the organisation, we must have the capacity to resolve problems amongst ourselves. We will not be able to resolve societal problems if we are failing to address our internal problems. We must never lose confidence in our ability to reach one another as comrades. We must also be alive to the fact that other comrades stand to benefit nothing from united branches, sub-regions, regions, PEC and NEC.

We have comrades who always find their relevance and role when divisions are high in the organisation. But where comrades speak in one voice, such individuals become displaced.

Comrades, this elective regional conference must not be used to divide comrades or to course mistrust amongst comrades. Those comrades, who came to this conference without speaking to each other and with an intention to continue, doing so going into the future, do not know the African National Congress. Those comrades who sing songs that threaten to kill other comrades are as guilty as those who composed the songs.

We have a responsibility to build a strong African National Congress that is relevant to our people. The days of relying on the struggle credentials of the organisation to mobilise people are fast running out. We must start to mobilise our people based on the programmes and achievements of the organisation especially in delivering quality services to them.

Our heroes must be leaders who are able to change the living conditions of our people. We need credible leaders that are able to sacrifice and always ready to go the extra mile.

Comrades

We must continue to build strong programme based relations with COSATU, SACP and SANCO. Our Provincial Conference clearly resolved that we must never lose interest in the Alliance because of what has been happening recently. As the African National Congress we will further every effort that is aimed at strengthening relations within the Tripartite Alliance.

This Alliance was established on a concrete foundation that cannot be shaken because another Alliance partner is led by a particular individual. The fact is that individuals will come and go, but the Alliance will remain. We firmly believe that the reasons upon which the Alliance was founded are still relevant today.

Therefore, we are urging comrades in this region to ensure that the Alliance is functional and alive.

Comrades

In a few weeks time our long awaited National Policy Conference will be sitting to discuss the policy direction of the movement and the country at least for the next five years. Therefore, this regional conference is the most appropriate platform for you to discuss the policy discussion documents as part of preparing for the policy conference and the national conference of the movement.

The ANC is a living formation that makes the impossible possible. In order to achieve the ideas upon which the African National Congress was formed, we need a dedicated cadreship that is always motivated to offer more. We will not fail in bringing about the change we promised our people. We will not renege from the promises made to our people for we are an organisation that keeps its promises.

We wish you a successful regional conference that will leave the organisation in this region stronger and more relevant than ever before.

The ANC lives and the ANC leads!

Maanda!

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