Address by Limpopo ANC Chairperson Cde Cassel Mathale during the ANC Mopani Regional Conference, Tzaneen

Address by Limpopo ANC Chairperson Cde Cassel Mathale during the ANC Mopani Regional Conference, Tzaneen

4-6 May 2012

NEC members
PEC members
REC members
The leadership of the Alliance structures
The leadership of the ANCYL, Women`s League and Veterans` League
The Provincial leadership of PYA (YCL, SASCO & COSAS)
Branch delegates
Distinguished guests
Comrades

Receive revolutionary greetings from the Provincial Executive Committee of the people`s movement, the African National Congress. At the tender age of 31, the brilliant Pixley Ka Izaka Seme, urged his fellow Africans to abandon tribal differences and unite under one objective and purpose of fighting for the rights of the sidelined indigenous masses of South Africa. In his widely and popularly quoted words President Seme wrote in an African Journal called Imvo:

"The demon of racialism, the aberrations of the Xhosa-Fingo feud, animosity that exists between the Zulus and Tongas, between the Basuthu and every other native must be buried and forgotten. We are one people, these divisions, these jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today."

At the historic launching conference of the African National Congress on the 8th of January 1912, President Seme who was the keynote speaker said:

"Chiefs of royal blood and gentlemen of our race, the white people of this country have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa- a union in which we have no voice in the making of the laws and no part in the administration. We have called you, therefore, to this conference so that we can together devise ways and means of forming our nation union for the purpose of creating national unity and defending our rights and privileges."

Two months later after the historic 1912 formation of the African National Congress, President Seme wrote an article in the news paper Ilanga lase Natal on March 22, 1912 that:

"The 8th DAY OF JANUARY 1912 shall ever remain memorable in African history because it was on that day that the transcending influence of Letsie II brought us together at Bloemfontein. It was a conference of races and of nations…many of whose ranks had been devastated by the demon of inter-tribal strife and jealousy."

As part of continuing with the centenary celebrations of the movement, the month of May has been dedicated to the ANC collective and membership under the tutelage of President Seme.

As we celebrate the life and times of the fifth President of the movement and his generation, we should ensure that the ANC continues with the legacy of uniting all Africans behind one vision. In doing so, we must guard against any tendencies that pursue the elements of tribalism or regionalism.

The ANC has fought racial segregation, tribalism, and regionalism since formation 100 years ago. The ANC was formed by people across many racial lines and it has been home to all people regardless of their tribal origin.

Comrades, you should be congratulated for ensuring that this conference is free from narrow tribal politics which have negatively affected many previous regional gatherings. You have risen above one of the most dangerous factors which continue to cause violence in many parts of the world and which also threaten the unity of our country and our glorious movement.

We need to be alive to the fact that tribalism must be confronted without any break. Its frontiers must be demolished and its advocates must be exposed and sidelined, never to come back unless they have changed.

At the 50th ANC Mafikeng Conference, we talked about the issue of tribalism under discussions on the: National Question in a Democratic South Africa. Most of the tendencies which are emerging in the movement can be attributed partly to the disappearance of discussion on the national question. Our discussions on the national question within the broader objectives of the National Democratic Revolution might have directed our attention to deal directly with the issue of tribalism.

There was consensus in Mafikeng that the driving force behind `ethnic` consciousness is the competition amongst blacks over scarce resources. Every tribal group sees itself as the most relevant to lead and not to advance the interests of all people, but to prioritise the needs of men and women from the same groups.

The apartheid regime designed and implemented the system of homelands in order to divide our people along tribal lines. And within that system people from big tribal authorities stood a good chance of becoming members of the homeland governments with a clear purpose to develop their own areas, whilst on the other hand, enriching themselves. The homelands electoral system was designed in such in a manner that gave advantage to people from big tribal groups.

Of course, after the democratic breakthrough in 1994, the movement has been confronted with issues of class struggle, deep rooted tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism and the land question. Maybe it might be necessary that as we celebrate the centenary of our glorious movement, we should make assessment of how far we have gone in addressing these pressing issues which are affecting the masses of our people on a daily basis. We must defeat politics of tribalism because you have what it takes to lead that confrontation.

To support a particular leader or advance a certain argument based on tribal reasons is very wrong and against everything that the movement stands for. To use a tribal factor to campaign for leadership positions is very wrong and against the principles of the movement.

People, who ride on the tribal cart to lobby their narrow views, always fail to make any impact when comrades speak in one voice on the way-forward. Their disruptive and dangerous tribal politics always find space in situations where differences are high.

This means differences that are allowed to escalate always create space for opportunistic tendencies such as tribalism and regionalism and to emerge at the expense of principle and interests of the movement. We do not have any doubt that this region comes a long way with the battle against tribal related politics and you must soldier on until acquiring a total victory.

We are also convinced that you have the presence of mind not to recycle narrow politics that were used previously to divide this region. As the Provincial Executive Committee, we will walk with you every step of the way in moving forward to the new chapter of tolerance, unity and a common desire to build a strong movement which has the capacity to better the living conditions of our people.

You have a mammoth task of ensuring that these gains are consolidated and sustained in order for others to learn from you. The events before this conference, in particular during the branch general meetings points to one direction of unity. This does not mean that you do not have varying views on issues, but you have managed all differences in a matured manner that places the interests of the movement first.

The unity of Mopani, just like the unity of all other regions is very important. This conference has reminded us that it is possible for delegates to converge for one course and with the same understanding on the leadership issue, which if not managed properly has the potential to divide the membership and cause harm to the movement especially when the contestation is rife and bitter.

The reality is that we can`t all lead at the same time. This means others will be nominated and elected to lead us, because the task at head requires their leadership.

The fact that branches did not nominate you has nothing to do with your leadership qualities. We have many comrades who are not holding any leadership position, but who are very good leaders with sharp understanding of the movement`s dialectics.

These are comrades who know that the leadership positions do not belong to individuals, but to the movement. On the other hand, we have a completely different crop of comrades, who are obsessed with leadership positions and advancing divisive politics which cause severe harm to the movement. These are comrades who have a false belief that without them in leadership positions everything will fall apart.

They fight for positions using all sorts of attempts to acquire nominations and afterwards, cause disruptions at conferences in order to be elected. They care about themselves and nothing else. It must always be about their names and nothing else. We must discard such people from our ranks and show them that this movement is far above individuals.

We have a compelling responsibility to ensure that our members are taught correct politics of the movement. The future of the ANC does not depend exclusively on how many people vote for the movement or attend its rallies or meetings. The future of the ANC depends on the type of cadre the movement is produces. The future of the ANC depends on how leaders and members of the movement relate with community members.

Therefore, we need a grounded cadreship that continues to learn more about the ANC and the present challenges facing the movement. We need true patriotic volunteers who appreciate the volume of the outstanding work and the difficulties that will be encountered in the process of achieving the overriding objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.

Comrades,

We must be alive to the fact that with the passage of time certain things cannot continue to be done in the same old way. We cannot afford to have branches that only meet during organisational elective conferences or general elections, including municipal elections. We must build organic branches in order to have a solid and strong African National Congress.

Members of the African National Congress must be able to distinguish between right and wrong. Those who take advantage of ANC members to advance their own personal interests must be exposed and isolated. This includes those who divide the movement in order to gain political recognition.

Comrades

The ANC Youth League, just like the Women`s League and the Veterans League is a very strategic integral part of the movement. Since formation the Youth League has been a trusted ally in the course of fighting the apartheid regime and also building a non-racial, non-sexist democratic nation. The unity of the ANC Youth League and other Leagues of the movement cannot be over emphasised.

Recently, on the weekend that the Youth League held its provincial conference, another group of people also claimed to be hosting a separate conference. Those who organised the said conference know very well that a provincial conference of the Youth League, just like that of the ANC is convened under the leadership of the NEC of the Youth League.

But yet they continued with their plans to have a bogus conference that was meant to score cheap political recognition. We should worry less about the action of those young people who converged at the bogus Seshego meeting under the false assumption of the Youth League conference. But we must be more worried about the actual sponsors of that counter revolutionary idea.

That Seshego gathering was nothing except a platform to seek recognition and display a picture of disunity in the ANC Youth League and ANC in the province. We must condemn in the strongest terms the actions of the sponsors and implementers of that counter revolutionary agenda. That is what we call ill-discipline which deserves to go through disciplinary processes of the movement. The fact that we said nothing does not mean we support the actions of the group.

We have an obligation to support the ANC Youth League, in particular during these challenging occasions. We must never take advantage of the ANC Youth League in order to achieve narrow political interests.

The ANC needs a strong Youth League that is able to mobilise young people and assist in offering solutions to many socio-economic difficulties facing our people.

We also need a strong Women`s League that has the capacity to confront all challenges facing women in this region, the province and the country at large. Many women especially in the rural areas are still living in poverty and continue to endure many socio-economic difficulties. It is a known fact that many women are still excluded from the economic development of this country.

The issue of economic transformation must be able to change this situation by making women to be active participants in the economic direction of this country, the SADC region and the global village.

We must continue to seek the wisdom of our veterans in order to succeed in our political actions. We must respect our veterans and treat them in a manner that appreciates their contribution to our struggles and sufferings. We cannot subject our veterans to processes that undermine them and disrespect their age and role in the movement.

Comrades

This conference is sitting almost a month before the important Policy Conference of the movement. Discussion documents have been released and distributed amongst comrades. According to the programme of this conference, presentations will be made on some of the crucial discussion documents. We should read and understand the discussion documents in order to make sounds inputs that will assist in enriching our discourse.

We should go to the Policy Conference well prepared in terms of content in order to advance our arguments from an informed position. At our 7th Provincial Conference, we took certain resolutions which must find expression in our preparation for the Policy Conference and the National Conference.

It is also proper for us to use this platform to acknowledge the efforts of the Regional leadership to build a regional office for the movement. Your decision to construct a world class office for the movement will forever remain in the history of the African National Congress. You have taken a very rare important step that will never be erased.

Comrades

We are convinced that the African National Congress will emerge from this conference firmly united and strong more than ever before. We wish you a successful conference that will aid in strengthening the movement as we commence the voyage to the next centenary.

The struggle continues!

Matimba!

Maatla!

Amandla!

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