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Address by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch of the Thuma Mina Campaign

18 May 2018, Makhulong Stadium, Tembisa

Acting Chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, Cde David Makhura
Members of the National Executive Committee present
Gauteng Provincial Executive Committee members present
REC members of Ekurhuleni led by the Chairperson Cde Mzwandile Masina
Leadership of our reliable allies, SACP, COSATU and SASCO
Comrades and Friends
Members of our glorious movement, the ANC

Receive revolutionary greetings from your National Executive Committee.

We have gathered here on a very special day, the birthday of uTata Walter Sisulu. Had he still been among us today, we would have joined Xhamela in celebration as we mark his 106th birthday.

It is a perfect coincidence that we are launching a campaign on Xhamela's birthday that will, in order to succeed, require the highest level of humility, immense selflessness and deep love for humanity. These are some of the traits we must seek to learn and emulate from Comrade Walter Sisulu, our former Secretary General and Deputy President who was bestowed with the highest honour the ANC can confer on any of its members, the Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe award.

Comrades

Throughout the period since our national conference at Nasrec, we have witnessed a renewed sense of hope in the ANC and its ability to transform the quality of lives of our people for the better.

Our people believe, quite correctly, that the ANC has turned a new leaf and that it has entered into a period of renewal. It is during this period that our movement will deal decisively with all the negative tendencies that had really begun to erode its moral authority and therefore its ability to lead society.

We are serious about reclaiming the moral high ground because we are now fully aware that our movement can never make any revolutionary advances towards a better life for all without the full cooperation of our people, the motive forces. We now know that our people will not cooperate if they are doubtful of the real intentions of any revolutionary programmes. In short, we now know that none among us can and should lead without the trust of the people.
 
Comrades

Through our State of the Nation Address in February, we made a clarion call to all South Africans to avail themselves to serve the cause of humanity as a whole without any intention of personal gain. This call has been met with a reverberating response from South Africans from all walks of life, saying "Mr. President, please Send Me-Thuma Mina''.

This was a call to all to lend a hand in their own small way to assist in dealing decisively with all forms of social ills that continue to bedevil our society to date.

Given that the ANC has declared 2018 as the year during which we are honouring the legacy of President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, it is befitting that any call to service must be linked to these stalwarts of our movement.

It is President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu who led lives that truly espoused selflessness in service of the people. It is through studying their lives that we learn what a true volunteer is.

Right until the end, these two giants of our movement served as epitomes of volunteerism, availing themselves always to serve others for absolutely no reward other than the natural satisfaction that engulfs an uncorrupted human heart, derived purely from the knowledge that one has made the life of another just a little bit better.

By definition, a volunteer is one who commits his/her time and energy in service without expecting any material benefit in return. Today we are all reminded that when we sign up to join the ANC, we are actually agreeing to be volunteers of the movement in service of the people of South Africa and the rest of humanity.
 
This definition also enjoins us as members of the ANC, like President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu in whose names we have gathered here today, to always remember the obligation binding on our collective conscience to serve the people without motives, hidden or otherwise, of personal gain.

Comrades

The timeless values of our movement such as humility, hard work, sacrifice, honesty and respect for the people are foremost when we execute our responsibility to serve humanity as imposed on us by history itself.

As ANC volunteers, we must disabuse ourselves of the utterly wrong belief that when we serve our people, we are doing them a favour. Such a belief stands contrary to the spirit of volunteerism and breeds a culture of entitlement especially among those who occupy positions of leadership. It is from this culture of entitlement that corruption rears its ugly head.

As we meet here today, we seek to exorcise the evil spirit of entitlement with the virtuous spirit of volunteerism because we know that as volunteerism rises among ANC members and the people of South Africa as a whole, corruption will fall and take its rightful place in the dustbin of history and exist only in our distant collective national memory.

The ANC is a movement of the people driven by the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution as its political program. Wherever we may find ourselves as ANC members and whatever activities we find ourselves involved in, we must always be concerned about whether or not such activities advance the NDR or serve to reverse its gains.

Our programme aims to create a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. ANC branches must be composed of politically advanced sections of society on whose conscious action the creation of a National Democratic Society depends. They are the basic units of our movement. The health, vibrancy and life stream of our movement will always be best observed at branch level.

As we launch the Thuma Mina Campaign today, we are doing so as part of our broader program to reconnect the ANC with all our people who are the real owners of our glorious movement.

We will work without ceasing to ensure that this campaign also becomes part of the efforts to reverse the trust deficit that has developed over the years between the leadership of our movement and the people. As I said earlier, none among us can lead without the trust of the people.

The Thuma Mina Campaign will inevitably lead to the repositioning of all our branches to be at the center of all activities in their communities, thereby giving practical meaning to the role of the ANC as the leader of society. The hallmark of our movement has always been its ability to establish and sustain enduring relationships with communities.

The Thuma Mina Campaign would have failed if it does not re-orientate our braches back to the basics.

This campaign is about ANC branches identifying problems and issues of concern in their localities and doing something practical to address them. All ANC branches must be able to formulate campaigns around issues that are raised as concerns in their wards.

It is common cause that some of the challenges in our communities do not necessarily need any state intervention to be resolved. It is primarily these challenges that ANC branches must identify and mobilize volunteers to resolve.

While government continues with efforts at a macro level to provide shelter for all, our volunteers must spare a thought and lend a hand to those who unfortunately remain homeless ahead of the many imminent cold and lonely winter nights.

The provision of blankets and warm clothes to the less fortunate are causes worth taking up. Refurbishments, minor or major, of orphanages and old age homes will certainly bring more joy to the hearts of those concerned that a million promises of a better life would. Cleaning campaigns accompanied with civil education about waste management will have a more positive impact on our communities than merely complaining and protesting about squalor.

The main message that must come from our campaign is that we are a caring organization that is committed to working with all our people to create a better life for all and improve our communities.

The ANC must be known as nothing else but a caring organization that works tirelessly and spares no effort when addressing people's problems and community challenges.

Today we are saying to our people, whatever problems you are faced with in your communities, the ANC is your first go-to place, your first port of call.

In the context of the Thuma Mina Campaign, ANC branches are duty bound to champion the interests of communities where they are found. We must begin leading community struggles through campaigns and this can only be effective if we move swiftly to implement the Polokwane conference resolution which instructed us to establish street committees.

These Street committees will sit regularly to reflect on issues affecting community members and these concerns will then be taken to ANC branch meetings.

It is in this way that communities will be able to make known their concerns to ANC branches and their leaders. An added benefit of these street committees is that they will also help in fighting crime in our communities and will essentially be the practical expression of our belief that a successful fight against crime can only be possible through a partnership between the police and communities.

We need to be a campaign oriented organization, because in this way people will recognize that the ANC truly lives and the ANC truly leads.

We must take up and lead all campaigns aimed at improving the living conditions our people. ANC branches must be with and among our people.

We must begin to optimally make use of our strength as the ANC, which lies in our omnipresence, our presence in every corner of South Africa.

Comrades

As ANC leaders and members, it is our responsibility to give people in our communities the reassurance and comfort that there is no problem that is too small to warrant the attention of the ANC nor any that is too big to be resolved.

We will work in partnerships with community organizations in various sectors to bring change in our society.

As ANC members we must always remember that we are ambassadors of the ANC. Whatever impression, good or bad, people have about us after any form of interaction with them, it will naturally translate to an attitude they will have in turn towards the ANC.

We can never take leave from ourselves as members and leaders of the ANC. Members and leaders alike must therefore know from now henceforth that any behavior that is unANC will neither tolerated, condoned or excused simply on the basis that it is committed under the pretext of so called personal capacity. This applies also to opinions that harm the public image of the movement expressed by members on WhatsApp Groups, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

This is very important, comrades, because there is not a single campaign of the movement that can succeed without discipline.

The centrality of ANC branches in the Thuma Mina campaign cannot be overemphasized because it is the branches that constitute the very first point of contact between community members and the African National Congress.

We ought to recognize therefore that the attitudes and opinions of society towards our movement are primarily shaped by our conduct at branch level rather than on television, radio and newspapers.

The targets we set for ourselves through this campaign will include:

  • Strengthening the fight against crime and corruption
  • Campaigning against the abuse and ill-treatment of women, children and the elderly
  • Building caring, clean and safe communities together with the people who live there
  • Making the ANC a true agent for change that inspires people through positive actions and conduct
  • Enhancing all efforts that seek to eliminate poverty, unemployment and inequality

As we launch this campaign today, it is worth repeating what we said during the State of the Nation Address in February borrowing from the late Jazz Legend Bra Hugh Masekela, who more than any other captured the essence of the spirit of volunteerism in his song "Thuma Mina." He said among other things:

"I wanna be there when the people start to turn it around

When they triumph over poverty

I wanna be there when the people win the battle against AIDS

I wanna lend a hand

I wanna be there for the alcoholic

I wanna be there for the drug addict

I wanna be there for the victims of violence and abuse

I wanna lend a hand

Send me."

As we leave this place, we must shun selfishness and embrace selflessness; we must reject entitlement and embrace volunteerism. When we observe the desperate situations of those in need, we must remember President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu and respond with the words of the great Hugh Masekela, the two words that must never depart from our tongues, "Thuma Mina."

I thank you very much.