The African National Congress Provincial Executive Committee in KwaZulu-Natal has been consistently mobilising ordinary members of society throughout the corners of the province to attend the 8 January celebrations to be held on 12 January 2019 at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The people of this province are indeed privileged to be given the opportunity to host the biggest celebrations.
Importantly, the history of the ANC is inextricably intertwined with that of the province of KwaZulu-Natal. From its formation as the African Native Congress on that seminal date of 8 January 1912, the ANC has had among the core of its leadership luminaries from KZN and these include Josiah Gumede, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, John Langalibalele Dube, Anton Lembede and Inkosi Albert Luthuli.
It is not the first time that KZN has had such an honour of hosting the gathering. In fact in the recent history of the ANC, KwaZulu-Natal has hosted a few important conferences of the ANC.
The 43rd and 46th annual conferences of the ANC were hosted in Durban as well as 47th Annual conference on 12 December 1955, and were addressed by president Albert Luthuli, the first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in Africa.
The All-In Africa Conference was hosted in Pietermaritzburg on 25 -26 March 1961 to consider the implications of the banning of the ANC and resolved to stage nationwide demonstrations.
The 48th National conference of the ANC which was held for the first time since the ANC had been unbanned was also held in Durban. This was a historic conference attended by the cadres of the movement from the various aspects of our struggle, the mass democratic movement, the underground, exile and those that had come from prison.
President Nelson Mandela was elected the president of the ANC to take over from president Oliver Tambo who had become unwell after serving the movement with distinction for many challenging years in the history of the struggle.
The earlier conferences took place before the ANC emerged as a ruling party at the helm of the political and administrative control of our country.
In fact, the 48th ANC National Conference held in 1991 occurred at the time of extreme apartheid-fuelled political intolerance, violence and bloodshed that had caused our province to be regarded as the killing fields of South Africa.
One of the basic underlying mottoes has been that of “forgive but never forget,” which basically means that we as the previously oppressed group are willing to forgive the atrocities that we suffered in the name of apartheid, but that in the interest of never ever again repeating the mistakes of the past, we will never forget those atrocities.
For, if we ever allowed ourselves to forget those past abuses, we would surely be condemning our future generations to a vicious circle of repeating the very same mistakes which brought about untold misery to our country, which would surely undo the great strides we have taken thus far.
Who can forget the uprooting and subsequent displacement of thousands upon thousands of people – some permanently – from their well-established homes and communities, and their being thrust into homelessness and untold misery and suffering?
Indeed, who can ever forget the ruthless and brutal turning of neighbour against neighbour, relative against relative, all in the name of political allegiances, sometimes misguided political allegiances forged as a result of those who wished to maintain the prevailing apartheid-instigated status quo?
By all accounts, this province bore the brunt of this senseless violence, and it was through efforts by a collective leadership of the ANC under the guidance of Jacob Zuma, that peace finally prevailed in KZN.
It is therefore commendable that the PEC has ensured the participation of former President JG Zuma in the mobilisation of the masses to attend January 8 statement celebrations.
The message which is loud and clear following Zuma’s participation in the Thuma Mina activities is that the ANC is home for all; and that no leader should come between all of us and the ANC.
The same message was very loud when the KZN PEC co-ordinated several Thuma Mina community outreach activities that were addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The participation of both Zuma and Ramaphosa in Thuma Mina community outreach programmes will ensure unity and strengthen the ANC to become a more potent weapon for the transformation of society and improvement of the lives of the people.
Only a strong and united ANC can ensure a landslide victory in the 2019 elections and ultimately deliver a future of our dreams. The enemies of transformation because they thrive on mayhem, they will do everything in their power to plant seeds of division within the ANC.
Our present stability, though fragile, is solidifying mostly because of the collective effort by the ANC PEC and the role played by the leagues together with the efforts contributed by Alliance partners in KZN.
Critically, when Zuma was the leader in this province in the 90s, he ensured that ANC and IFP leaders worked together despite having political differences.
Leaders from both sides jointly and collectively came to the realisation that for peace to prevail they should eject all political and social prejudices ambitions for the greater goal of the attainment of a true democracy.
The ANC in this province has come a long way learning its lessons in building peace in the entire community and consolidation of unity within its ranks and Alliance partners. The results have been encouraging.
The National General Council held in 2010 in KZN was convened just over one year after the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal had received the largest number of votes in the national and provincial elections. In the province about two-million voters gave the ANC 62% victory.
That made ANC the undisputed leader of the people of KwaZulu-Natal. In the history of our democracy, no other political formation has ever reached this record of popular support in the province.
In KZN, the ANC once humiliated the opposition parties as individual political parties and as a collective block of a combined IFP and DA coalition.
This was seen as the most fitting tribute to the many leaders of the ANC who sacrificed their lives such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Dr John Langalibalele Dube – the first president of our movement.
As we approach 8 January celebrations, it is, therefore, fitting to ruminate on these and other good occurrences that this province has seen, with the lens focusing on the role played by the ANC and its leadership down the history of this country.
Indeed few, if any, other political movements the world over have as rich a history and longevity comparable to that of the ANC. This in itself calls for a celebration. DM
Ndabezinhle Sibiya is Head of Content and Knowledge Management in the KZN Provincial Government Communications. These are his personal views.