The ANC, thanks to the dedication of its members, the great vision of its leaders and the calibre of its allies and supporters, has remained in the frontline and has moved with the people and with the times.
The ANC was born to spearhead the people’s struggle for the complete political and economic emancipation of our people from colonial/boer domination. It was on May 31, 1910, that the oppressors of this country formed what was known as the Union of South Africa – a union in which we had no voice in the making of laws and no part in its administration.
When the founding fathers of the would-be ANC decided two years later to call for a conference that actually included all South Africans for the purpose of creating a real and true African organisation able to protect and fight for the rights and privileges of all South Africans, the call reverberated throughout the country, resulting, in a unanimous decision, in the epoch-making formation of the ANC.
Among the leaders who gathered at that historic conference that founded the people’s movement were John Langalibalele Dube, Sol Plaatje, Walter Rubusana, Sam Makgatho, Alfred Mangena, Meshack Pelem, Charlotte Maxeke, Thomas Mapikela, Edward Tsewu and others. There were the royal personages who had personally – or whose forebears had – led the armies of resistance to the colonial occupation of Africa but also represented at Bloemfontein to forge a new weapon of struggle, among them: Solomon ka Dinizulu of the Zulu, Montsioa of the Barolong, Lewanika of the Lozi, Letsie II of the Sotho, Labotsibeni of the Swazi, Dalindyebo of the Thembu, Sekhukhuni of the Pedi and Khama of the Tswana. We salute these great patriots who gathered at Mangaung in early January, 1912.
At the time of the founding of the ANC, a handful of imperialist powers dominated the rest of the world politically and economically. Africa had been carved up among the grabbing imperialist forces in pursuit of strategic raw materials, profit, and spheres of influence. Millions upon millions of people in the colonial and semi-colonial world had been reduced to objects of unbridled exploitation and producers of fat profits for foreign masters. Since then, across the continent, the balance of forces, both continentally and internationally, have continued to decisively shift in favour of the forces of independence, democracy and peace.
Today the challenges the continent faces remain very real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But given the determined forces that are responsible for the regeneration of the continent we have witnessed in the last 100 years, all the remaining challenges, from South Sudan to DRC, from Burundi to Gambia, all of them will be met.
Our own road, as a country towards the complete economic emancipation of our people, remains long and arduous but thanks to achievements made thus far, in such a short space of time, that goal of complete economic emancipation is in sight. We are saying this boldly and confidently. As the ANC in the Western Cape, we are clear that all the achievements that this country has registered thus far belong to the forces for progress and peace, not to racists, baaskapists, colonialists, and aggressors. The past 22 years have left all South Africans in no doubt that we have the determination to continue the struggle towards a South Africa that truly belongs to all of us and the ability to organise people’s power in government for a realisation and the sustaining of a people’s democracy.
Today the picture of our country has changed radically and irreversibly. Poverty, unemployment, hunger, disease, and many other social ills all have shrunk tremendously and continue to do so as the determined ANC government progress grow in size and effectiveness.
In 2017, we are beginning a new political year. We must therefore set ourselves new tasks which we should strive to achieve in the coming year.
The ANC has always used the January 8 statement to outline the organisation’s programme for the year. This year we have declared this 105th year as the “Year of Unity in Action”. As an organisation we have always sought to ensure, for 105 years, that all those who stand for a democratic South Africa, equal, prosperous and stable, should unite in action and act in unity, thereby to expedite the process of nation building and complete economic liberation of our people.
In the coming Year, we will need to defend and consolidate all the gains that we have made as a democracy, to ensure the widest possible united action of the forces of progressive change in our country. We have to struggle continuously to overcome all obstacles and differences among ourselves that are blocking the realisation or unity and united action.
We shall furthermore need to build on these gains, continuously to strive for the situation in which the millions of our people can move as one, behind a united leadership and in pursuit of community-agreed goals. As the ANC, we have long realised that any division within the ANC inevitably leads to division among the people.
Despite all these gains, and the need for unity in action, 2016 has been a very challenging year for the ANC. Given the challenges that have plagued our movement throughout the year, our people expect us to answer the question, together with them. The question is: What is to be done in 2017?
Obviously as the ANC we must deal with a few critical issues.
As the ANC we must ask ourselves these questions:
- Are we organised enough?
- Are we strong enough?
- Are we disciplined?
- Are we dedicated enough to meet our obligations to the people?
These questions are easy to answer for the ANC because we have over a century of history to draw on and learn from. We must observe this anniversary by seeking to emulate the example set for us by the outstanding revolutionary patriots who have led our organisation for over a century. To emulate them means that for every Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, Kathrada, Goldberg; for every Motsoaledi, Gwala, Nyembe or Hogan we must produce a thousand others to take their places.
If we do this, we will never get lost.
Happy birthday, African National Congress. DM
Yonela Diko is the ANC Western Cape spokesman.