South Africa

South Africa

Open Letter from the Stalwarts: For the sake of our future, take a stand and defend our revolution

This is the text of an open letter to the National Executive Committee of the ANC, signed by Struggle hero and veteran WALLY SEROTE on behalf of the organisation’s veterans and stalwarts. The letter was sent to the Secretary-General of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, with a request that it be given to all members of the National Executive Committee who will be meeting on Friday 25 May 2017.

The veterans and stalwarts of the African National Congress (ANC) who are signatories to the document, “For the Sake of our Future”, came together due to our serious concern about the trajectory the ANC is taking under the current leadership. As stated in our documents we believe the present practices deviate from the historical mission and revolutionary task of our movement – to gain power for and with the people and to radically change the conditions of life of all the people of South Africa, especially those who were historically oppressed and exploited by the racist apartheid regime.

To quote Comrade Andrew Mlangeni, “Our hearts are broken” as we watch some in the leadership of our movement – undoubtedly a dominant group within the leadership – abrogate to themselves the power of the State to serve their own self-interests rather than the interests of the people of South Africa.

The historical ANC we know (as veterans and stalwarts of the movement) believed that power is not for individuals in the leadership to use the institutions of the State for self-interest; for families of individual leaders; and for friends or factions. The seizure of power as enunciated by our leadership throughout the history of our struggle for liberation, particularly by OR Tambo, was always understood as “Power to the People” and not power for individuals who used it for counter-revolutionary activities which are an antithesis of what the ANC should be about.

At the meeting held on Tuesday, 23 May 2017, the veterans and stalwarts who are signatories to the document, “For the Sake of Our Future”, expressed alarm at the overwhelming body of information about the “capture of our government” to serve individual and particular commercial interests. There was original evidence in the “State of Capture Report” and this has been expanded by the report of the “Unburdening Panel” of the South African Council of Churches (SACC).

The report presents in a coherent and systematic way that there has been and continues to be a project of the capture of the government by members of the ANC in government and some elements within business. The report shows, in a succinct and comprehensive manner, that both the state and government are compromised to facilitate the project which is “more than just corruption”. This renders meaningless the very fundamental democratic objective that “The People Shall Govern” as clearly stated in the Freedom Charter.

Given the seriousness of this capture of the state by our own leaders within the ANC, we as the veterans and stalwarts of the movement call on the National Executive Committee (NEC) – as it meets this weekend – to show leadership to our members, supporters and the nation and exercise its executive power in terms of the Constitution of the ANC to remove from government all those who are party to this project of state capture. In particular, the ANC should seriously consider recalling the President as Head of State and of Government.

As the NEC sits to deliberate on the crisis and challenges facing our movement it is pertinent and appropriate at this critical juncture to recall the words of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng when he delivered his judgment on Nkandla on 31 March 2016.

With regard to the president of the Republic he said, “Only upon him has the constitutional obligation to uphold‚ defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic been expressly imposed… the nation pins its hopes on him to steer the country in the right direction and accelerate our journey towards a peaceful‚ just and prosperous destination. He is a constitutional being by design‚ a national pathfinder‚ the quintessential commander-in-chief of State affairs and the personification of this nation’s constitutional project.”

In the same vein his comments on the conduct of Parliament were equally scathing. He reminded parliamentarians of the sacred and sacrosanct responsibility that rests of their shoulders “…the National Assembly‚ and by extension Parliament‚ is the embodiment of the centuries-old dreams and legitimate aspirations of all our people. It is the voice of all South Africans‚ especially the poor‚ the voiceless and the least remembered. It is the watchdog of state resources‚ the enforcer of fiscal discipline and cost-effectiveness for the common good of all our people. It also bears the responsibility to play an oversight role over the Executive and state organs and ensure that constitutional and statutory obligations are properly executed”.

It is therefore imperative for the members of the NEC to think long and hard and with all honestly about whether Members of Parliament have, by absolving the president, lived up to the expectations of the people of South Africa. This is all the more reason as the nation waits with bated breath about the outcome of the vote of no confidence that has been tabled in Parliament. Ordinarily, it should not even be a debatable matter how ANC parliamentarians, as representative of the “the voice of all South Africans‚ especially the poor‚ the voiceless and the least remembered… the watchdog of State resources‚ the enforcer of fiscal discipline and cost-effectiveness for the common good of all our people” should vote.

The people of South Africa expect them to redeem themselves and rise up to the occasion and the challenge that Justice Mogoeng has thrown at them and ask themselves, has the president by his conduct lived up to the high standards of a “constitutional being by design‚ a national pathfinder‚ the quintessential commander-in-chief of State affairs and the personification of this nation’s constitutional project”. It is their conscience individually and collectively that will demonstrate to the nation that the ANC remains still the leader of society by voting to preserve, protect, defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic.

This should be done as a precursor to an honest reflection and exposure of those who are involved in such illegal and unconstitutional projects. This is clearly counter-revolutionary and against the national strategic objectives of the ANC. It is a betrayal of our national democratic revolution (in favour of a Mafia style government). As the ANC we surely cannot have a government which is deployed there by the ANC in terms of the Constitution of the Republic, to pursue interests which are contrary to what the Constitution of the Republic requires them to do. No member of the ANC who falls prey to the dictates of commercial and self-interest must be allowed to remain in government in the name of or act on behalf of the African National Congress.

The NEC must unequivocally condemn projects that seek to undermine our government by creating parallel governance structures, like a “shadow government” that is not accountable to the people to serve the interests of individuals. We are particularly concerned about actions that compromise the security and justice cluster, particularly the police, the Hawks, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), and the intelligence services.

We call on the NEC to heed the warning of the SACC that the capture of the state and the development of parallel governance structures outside the official and constitutional structures of government will leave them with no option but to declare such a government “illegitimate”.

We once more appeal to the National Executive Committee of the ANC to ensure that the National Consultative Conference (NCC) – as described in our document “For the sake of our future”) and agreed to by the NEC November 2016 – is organized together with the Veterans and Stalwarts of the Movement and the MK Council in way that will make it (the NCC) as effective as possible to resolve the crisis the Movement is facing. The conference must be seen as an extra-ordinary conference where the leadership of the Movement together with the Veterans and Stalwarts of the ANC and MK Council will have the opportunity to critically analyse all the ills that plague our Movement; develop and agree on corrective measures to turn the Movement around and implement strategies to ensure that the ANC regains its credibility and assume, again, its leadership role of society.

It is the considered view of the veterans and stalwarts that a back-to-back NCC with the policy conference which includes delegates to the policy conference who have not been prepared and mandated to deal with this matter by their branches is an exercise in futility which may leave our movement come out of such an NCC in a worse state than it is now. An NCC with representatives of branches of the ANC can only be meaningful if the issues raised by the veterans and stalwarts of the ANC (contained mainly in the “For the Sake of South Africa” Document) were discussed in the branches of the ANC before coming to participate in such a consultative conference. Further, the outcomes of the NCC need to be widely discussed within the ANC and especially by branches to enable these outcomes to inform policy; the identification of leaders that will steer the ANC back to what the masses of our people know it to be; and, the electoral processes leading to the elective conference the end of the year.

The meeting of stalwarts and veterans today agreed unanimously that we can only proceed to a national consultative conference on the terms that we have repeatedly stated in the many meetings with the ANC leadership and as enunciated in our document. The ANC, dear comrades, is falling apart as you meet and the country, supporters and members of the ANC are looking for leadership that must and should take us out of this nightmare. As stalwarts and veterans we are also stating categorically that if the NEC does not make a clear and unambiguous statement on the NCC and there is no agreement to have such a NCC, the 101+ will consider calling for a national “dialogue” (name to be determined) to discuss the crisis in the ANC and the country and what is to be done.

We also appeal to the rest of the leadership of the ANC throughout all its structure – from branches throughout the country, to all the regions and provinces to take a stand and defend our revolution, our organisation, and our democratically elected government from those in leadership positions who are part of state capture project in their own interests. We all have an obligation to ensure that our movement continues its commitment to serve the people of South Africa, consistent with the objectives of the ANC as represented by the leaders under whom many of us (veterans and stalwarts of the ANC) served, such as Inkosi Albert Luthuli, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

As members of the NEC it is in your power, collectively, to ensure that all members of the ANC are part of a movement that is a servant of the people and not an instrument for self-enrichment and corrupt practices. We must ensure that all members of the ANC and civil servants within our democratically elected government, and in all spheres of government, act consistently to address the challenges of the eradication of the legacy of apartheid colonialism and therefore such ills as poverty, underdevelopment, unemployment, and racial and gender inequality as well as ensuring that there is zero tolerance to self-interest and corruption. In particular we call on all civil servants and other professionals in all sectors of our society to resist the project of state capture and expose it wherever it manifests itself.

In this regard the stalwarts and veterans plan to interact with all levels of the movement countrywide to ensure that, together, we can defend the gains of our revolution and the right of our people to govern themselves rather than be governed by those who are intent on capturing the state to serve their own interests. We also call on all veterans and stalwarts to work with all ANC structures to organise consultative conferences in all the regions and provinces of the country to enable genuine members of the ANC who stand for the tested values and traditions of the movement and the oath we all took on joining the ANC to facilitate a return to our historical values.

Lastly, we appeal to the NEC to join with the people of South Africa (the last line of the defence of our democracy) to take a stand against those elements who have betrayed the historical values of our movement by getting involved in the implementation of the counter-revolutionary activities of state capture which robs the people of the national resources meant to radically change their conditions of life as elaborated in the Freedom Charter.

As veterans and stalwarts of the revolutionary movement we are obliged to oppose the counter-revolution which is being promoted by some of the key leaders of our movement, in the name of the ANC and our government. We restate our commitment to save the ANC from the clutches of those who are bent on destroying our movement and discrediting it in the face of the people of South Africa and the world. It must be emphasised that the turn of events does not in any way imply that we are trying or even attempting to form a new organisation. We remain completely committed to the ANC and want the ANC to return to its values and principles and to a leadership that is ethical, places integrity foremost and truly committed to the people and constitution of South Africa.

Together with OR Tambo and all the tested leaders of the Movement, A luta Continua, and Power to the People!

In solidarity and struggle,

Wally Mongane Serote,

On behalf of the Stalwarts and Veterans DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Freedom Day celebrations held in Manguzi, uMhlabuyalingana in KwaZulu-Natal under the theme “The year of OR Tambo: Together deepening democracy and building safer and crime free communities, 27 April 2017. (Photo: GCIS)