South Africa

South Africa, Politics

Dear President Zuma: Talk is cheap

We need you to emulate the late Oliver Reginald “OR” Tambo’s leadership style and bring us back to our former glory. By DAVID VAKALISA Ka-NDYALVAN.

Mr President we all agree that the ANC and alliance partners are experiencing difficult times. Denialists and myopic comrades may call it divergence of views or robust debates; I do not buy it given the fact that the unity of the ANC-led tripartite alliance is ruptured for everybody to see and their very existence is threatened. The unsavoury circumstances and toxic conditions that the alliance partners find themselves in appear to continue unabated with serious repercussions to the stability and prosperity of our beloved South Africa. It is agonising Msholozi. More often than not, I make disturbing observations that some of the comrades in positions of influence only speak of unity without practical guidance to achieve the required unity for the ANC-led tripartite alliance to revive it to its former glory and bluntly,  “talk is cheap” Baba.

I write this letter in an attempt to persuade you to mend the existing fissures and strengthen the ANC-led alliance as a mass democratic movement to lead the society in a long walk to National Democratic Society (NDS) and its core tenants of “non-racialism, non-sexism and prosperity”.  Baba, your popular song Inde lendlela esiyihambayo suggests the ANC cannot afford to lose focus at the altar of political expediency as this does not only weaken the mass democratic movement, but also gives relevance to apartheid and colonial apologists and their courting partners. You may have seen the marches against the ANC-led administration that their cosmetic and demagoguery views are beginning to gain traction and resonance across a broad front of South Africans due to incessant own goals. We ignore this at the peril of the ANC and its progressive policies and programmes. Apartheid and colonial apologists with their anti-transformation agenda are at the gate waiting patiently to feed on the carcass of the ANC.  Any such eventuality will go down in the books of history as betrayal of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) in its worst form which will never be forgiven by the next generations.    

The history of the ANC has it that a similar situation of devastating rupture which threatened the momentum of the mass democratic revolution and its progressive agenda had bedevilled our glorious movement. This period in history is associated with the Morogoro Consultative Conference, 25 April-1 May 1969 in Tanzania and its aftermath. It is said that wisdom of the ANC leadership led by the late OR Tambo navigated the movement out of the stormy waters for it to remain an ideological force of choice to lead the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). You must be asking yourself who am I to tell you while you were part of this history. I am doing so Baba in admiration of the state in which the ANC-led alliance was handed over by our fallen heroes and heroines and living stalwarts and veterans to the current generation after it’s unbanning in 1990. And All I know is that OR Tambo was and is still regarded as a unifying figure.

In acknowledgement and appreciation of Tambo’s leadership traits, the ANC has declared 2017 “The Year of OR Tambo: Unity in action in advancing Human Rights”. Under the current devastating circumstances of unabated factionalism, paranoia and intolerance to dissenting views, the ANC could not have chosen a better theme for commemorations to galvanise unity within the tripartite alliance in particular and the country in general. But the results are not forthcoming and it would appear that the situation of polarisation worsens Msholozi.  Thus, I am appealing to you to emulate his leadership style in order to bring back the ANC’s former glory. I suppose you should know better what it took since you were part of this fascinating history, Baba. 

I am singling you out of the leadership collective not because of factional reasons but in cognisance of the fact that uli Khanda lika Kongolose (head of the ANC) and OR Tambo by then was also the head of the ANC. It is therefore incumbent upon you to learn from him to save the organisation as he did. Ikhanda (head) is one of the organs of the body, it is where ears to hear, eyes to see and brain to think reside and it is at an advantageous position to see where other organs cannot see. Therefore, I singled you out because this metaphor Ikhanda which is often used loosely puts you at an advantageous position to lead and unite the ANC and its tripartite alliance before it is too late. Having said that and in the context of this metaphor, there is no time to turn a deaf ear, there is no time to turn a blind eye, there is no time to bury the head in the sand and there is no time for praise singers Baba. Praise singers and cheer leaders are misleading. Colonial and apartheid apologists are at the gate with their cosmetic programmes for total reversal of the hard- earned gains of democracy.         

Have a blessed Easter Holiday and come back rejuvenated for serious actions towards unity in the tripartite alliance in advancing Human Rights! DM

David Ka-Ndyalvan is an ANC member at Akaso Branch. He writes in his personal capacity.

Photo: President Jacob Zuma addresses the annual Chris Hani Wreath laying ceremony on 10 April 2017. (GCIS)