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Letter from The President: Promoting unity in action for socio-economic freedom

25 January 2013

On the 8th of January this year we entered into a critical milestone in our national democratic revolution, the 101st year of the African National Congress.

The ANC was established to unite the people of our country who were at that time facing an onslaught from colonial settlers. After only a few months after the ANC was formed, the Native Land Act was enacted, turning our ancestors into wanderers and pariahs in the motherland.

The first President of the ANC, John Langalibalele Dube wrote to the government of the day on the 14th of February 1914 on the impact of the Land Act.
He said;

"We have seen our people driven from the places dear to them as the inheritance of generations, to become wanderers on the face of the earth. We have seen rents raised to the point of desperation. We have seen many of our people who by their frugality have laid by a little money in the hope of buying a small piece of land where they might make a home for their families and leave something for their children now told that their hopes are in vain.."

The ANC has gone through untold trials and tribulations during its 101 years of existence, and fighting the Land Act was only just the beginning. The ANC has also scored enormous successes. This has largely been through its ability to unite the democratic forces in our country around the objective of freeing our country and its people from the yoke of oppression.

It also survived through the type of cadreship it has had over the years. Our movement had activists who were prepared to die if need be, to bring about freedom. The ANC was able to provide hope and direction to scores of activists in the country and across the world under extremely difficult conditions and possible death. Its hegemony was accepted by all. It has also always been a leader of South African society.

The ANC continues to command a tremendous amount of support in the country and is growing. It has more than doubled its membership. It had about 600 000 members at its 52nd national conference in Polokwane, and this had gone to more than 1,2million at the 53rd national conference at the movement’s birthplace, Mangaung. Thus, as organisations battle to thrive and grow, and while others hide their membership figures, we proudly release ours.

This growth comes with responsibility. It means the ANC must play its role as the leader of society by trying as much as possible to unite all the democratic forces in the country behind one vision.

The ANC is fully aware of the fact that it must be united so that it can be able to unite the country. That has been our pre-occupation since 2008 when we came back from Polokwane. We will continue with the process of uniting all our members and also by solving problems in all structures of the movement, and enable members of the ANC to focus on the programmes of the movement instead of being diverted by internal conflicts.

We also need every cadre to be in active service to implement the Mangaung resolutions. Thus, the main issues in the next five years will be unity, organisational renewal and building the organisation. We also begin the work on the development of the new cadre, which is our programme for the next 10 years, the Decade of the Cadre. So we should all be thinking profoundly about what this means and how we should implement this resolution.

Our members in all structures and Leagues must also reach out to all sectors - the faith-based organisations, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations, traditional leaders, stokvels, youth formations, women’s groups, traditional healers and indeed every social formation in which our people organise themselves. They must enrich the African National Congress with their expertise, wisdom, passion and dedication.

We also need to continue with our Imvuselelo campaign and recruit more and more members into our glorious movement. In provinces such as the Western Cape, we must work vociferously to build the ANC and provide a progressive and sober alternative to our people.

ANC members should always remember that the ANC is the only organisation that is capable of uniting our people around one common vision, of building a National Democratic Society, a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society. We must therefore take our responsibilities seriously and build this movement.

Our former President, Comrade Pixley ka Isaka Seme, made a powerful clarion call for unity in his article the Native Union in October 1911, arguing for the formation of the ANC. He said;

“The demon of racialism, the aberrations of the Xosa-Fingo feud, the animosity that exists between the Zulus and the Tongaas, between the Basutos and every other Native must be buried and forgotten; it has shed among us sufficient blood! We are one people”.

That message remains as relevant today as it was in 1911. Petty divisions will not build the ANC. Let us unite all our people behind the ANC, as we march towards socio-economic freedom in our lifetime.

Jacob Zuma