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Countdown to one million-membership and ANC centenary

15 July 2011

Last month the African National Congress Youth League held its National Congress in Ghallagher Estates, Gauteng. We congratulate the ANC Youth League for holding a successful National Congress and we are happy that it took place without any disturbances. It proved that the mistakes of the past had been corrected.

We congratulate the newly elected Youth League leadership and welcome its re-elected President, Comrade Julius Malema. We also welcome the new Secretary General, Comrade Sindiso Magaqa.

Through constant engagement and discussions, we will ensure that the Youth League plays its role of strengthening the mother body, and executes its primary function of organising young people into the ANC.

Amongst the task of the movement in this month, the ANC will officially launch its Centenary Celebration programme. It is one of the most critical ANC campaigns we have ever run. We are a very privileged leadership to be entrusted with the responsibility of organising the celebration of the centenary of this glorious movement.

The centenary celebrations should refocus us all to the ANC and what it stands for, its culture, tradition and its legacy. It will help us remind our people and the world of the pivotal role that the ANC plays and has played in the life of this country and the continent.

We are only five months away from turning a hundred years as a movement. We agreed some time last year that each National Executive Committee member would recruit at least 10 people personally! I trust that by now we have recruited much more than that individually, in addition to mass recruitment drives.

The fact that the ANC turns 100 next year means that we must be more serious about protecting and projecting our image, history, traditions, culture and character properly. It means that we must show to all that we are the oldest liberation movement in Africa, and therefore our conduct and behaviour must reflect the maturity of our organisation.

When we celebrate 100 years we must ensure that we inculcate and instil the best values of our movement which have sustained us for such a long period. Part of those traditions and culture include the unity of the ANC, unity with its alliance, maintaining the multi-class character of the ANC, its democratic nature, internationalist as well as its non-racial and non-sexist character.

Those are the values that have sustained the ANC for the past 99 years. When we celebrate our 100 years next year these must be stronger than ever. What is most important about the Centenary celebrations is that it will give us an opportunity to articulate as a movement what is it that we think of ourselves and where we come from.

At the ANC National Conference in 1942, the delegates passed a foresighted resolution that by the time the ANC turned a hundred years it must have attained a current membership of one million.

On 18th July 2011 at Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, we will revive our massive recruitment campaign as an honour to our forebears for their wisdom in ensuring that the ANC is today a living organization capable of fulfilling the aspirations of the masses of our people. The recruitment campaign will also rejuvenate our movement to sustain its historical glory, appeal and relevance to the needs of our people today to the future.

The programme for the campaign will be anchored on two main pillars, namely: massive recruitment campaign targeting new potential members on the one hand, and a focus on political education, on the other. We want to achieve both the quantity and the quality of our membership.

Our programme will be implemented in different phases in each month. The focus of this month will be the recruitment in the Metropolitan Areas and each NEC member, including the ANC Officials, will be deployed to different sub regions on the door-to-door visits to recruit new members. Activities for this month will be concluded by the delivery of the Nelson Mandela Lecture at the University of Johannesburg on 30th July 2011.

It should be the ANC talking about itself that must capture the public space, not the journalists, media, academics, social commentators or so-called analysts. It must be us who lead the process of these celebrations.

In the same breath, Umkhonto we Sizwe will also reach a major milestone this year when it turns 50. The armed struggle pillar contributed immensely to advancing our struggle towards freedom. We must celebrate major campaigns of Umkhonto we Sizwe and its heroic combatants.

The Wankie-Sipolilo Campaign deserves a huge celebration by our cadres. Those who first faced the combat situation with the enemy must be correctly recognised. These issues are part of our legacy that we should celebrate as we approach the ANC Centenary next year.

Part of our legacy issues is also the name of Nelson Mandela and his role in the struggle for liberation, as part of a collective. The 18th of July will have the whole country performing activities to mark Mandela Day and to perform the 67 minutes of community service. We wish Madiba a happy birthday and a long healthy life.

We must ensure that the message does not become lost, of who Nelson Mandela really is. Those who now celebrate Madiba should be reminded that he is an integral part of the ANC. His role as a member and a leader of the ANC must be celebrated far and wide by our structures.

When Madiba and his comrades adopted the 1949 Programme of Action they helped to revitalise the ANC to become a vibrant liberation movement in South Africa with a vision, and helped it to become a major force in the preceding decades.

Madiba always volunteered for the most difficult tasks hence he became the National Volunteer in Chief during the 1952 Defiance Campaign of Unjust Apartheid Laws. His presence was also felt as the ANC canvassed people’s opinions about what type of society they wanted towards the adoption of the Freedom Charter.

The 1950’s became a fighting decade in the history of our struggle largely because of Nelson Mandela and his generation who declared that they wanted Freedom in our Lifetime. They faced persecution and harassment from the apartheid state, were served with banning orders, and were ultimately charged in the Treason Trial, which lasted for a number of years.

In the aftermath of the Sharpeville Massacre, it was Nelson Mandela who spearheaded a change of strategies and tactics in our struggle and led the ANC to finally adopt the armed struggle. He was again at the forefront of the formation of Umkhonto we Sizwe the People’s Army, and became its first Commander in Chief.

During the 1962 Mandela Trial and the Rivonia Trial, he again led by example from the dock, delivering one of the most poignant statements about our liberation struggle, explaining ANC policies and their genesis. Incarcerated for over 27 years first in Robben Island prison then in Pollsmoor and Victor Verster Prison, he became a symbol of resistance, hope and the determination of a people to be free.

His incarceration, instead of silencing the majority and cowering them into submission, helped to advance the struggle. He became a symbol of hope and inspiration to many. His name and standing helped us in the mobilisation of the international community against the system of apartheid.

When he came out of prison, he led our movement and our people towards the first democratic elections, which the ANC won convincingly. Madiba was also at the forefront of creating peace in the country. He helped the process of transition from apartheid to democracy to be a peaceful and stable one.

His emphasis on reconciliation and nation-building during his only term in office, helped the country deal with its painful past. But more than all this, Madiba represents what is good and honourable about our struggle, our democracy, our country, our movement and its policies. He represents compassion and empathy with the poor and the downtrodden.

He is regarded by millions of our country and the globe as their hero, a national and international icon who brought about democracy and freedom to the oppressed masses of our country.

We reiterate therefore that we must celebrate the real Madiba, the freedom fighter and a loyal and disciplined member of the African National Congress. We must use Mandela Day correctly as the ANC. President Mandela is political. Let our messages be political and provide leadership to the country.

Mandela Day must be used to make every ANC member proud of being in the ANC. It must make people want to join this wonderful organisation that Madiba is a loyal and disciplened member of.

On international relations, we celebrate with the people of South-Sudan who have just formed a new African state. This took place after a lengthy process where South Africa was integrally involved. We congratulate the Sudanese People Liberation Movement and the people of the Republic of South Sudan on their independence and a path to lasting peace and development. We commend the role played by our former president, Comrade Thabo Mbeki and the African Union High Level Committee on South Sudan for their sterling work in the resolution of the Sudan question.

The new country, Republic of South Sudan, will need our support as it builds institutions of governance. We will need to monitor and engage with the situation closely as there are some outstanding issues including the issue of Abyei.

In Libya we continue to work hard towards a lasting solution. We have come out openly about the abuse of Resolution 1973, and have engaged with the Libyan parties to the conflict. South Africa together with the AU will continue working for an immediate ceasefire and an end to NATO’s continued airstrikes and bombardments, so that a Libyan and African-led political process can begin in earnest.

The recent developments in Libya and other African countries instruct us that the ANC’s International Relations Sub Committee must strengthen its work so that we stay ahead with regards to developments.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the South African Communist Party. The party has always played a pivotal role in the life and history of the liberation struggle and the democratic movement. The anniversary is therefore a key celebration in the calendar of the progressive movement and the ANC-led Alliance.

It is important for us to always remember that it is the ANC in the main that knows best what role the SACP has played in the liberation struggle of our country, and the deep relationship between the two organisations. The relations became even stronger after the banning of the party.

The anniversary provides an opportunity for us to explain this wonderful history, and celebrate the ANC-led Alliance and its role in the transformation of our country, and in providing leadership to South African society in general. We congratulate the party on this milestone, and look forward to the celebrations in Durban at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, we are saddened and shocked at the murder of the Ethekwini Regional Secretary Sbu Sibiya this week. We extend condolences to his family and to the KZN province on this tragic loss.

We defeated apartheid through a momentous unity, solidarity and volunteerism to serve our nation. The ANC continues to be of service to our people in our forward march to complete the race towards a better society, a better Africa and an even better world.

ANC Lives! ANC Leads!

Jacob G Zuma