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Our generation should fulfil its mission in defence of the ANC

02 May 2009

Few weeks after the 23rd National Congress of the ANC YL in Bloemfontein and Nasrec in May and June 2008, we somewhat thought that our discovered mission is to complete the mission that was started and steered by our predecessors under the leadership of President Fikile Mbalula. The mission that was successfully led by former President Mbalula was correctly summed up in the last letter he wrote to members before the ANC 52nd National Conference in December 2007. The letter concluded by saying, "Others in our midst say they wish to fall asleep and wake up only after the 20th December 2007 (last day of the ANC 52nd National Conference). We, in the ANCYL, armed with 63 years of militant struggles, will be awake for every single moment, right through these exciting times, and take charge in crafting our own future and the character of the ANC we will inherit tomorrow".

There is no doubt that the ANC YL generation that came before us will be renowned and remembered in history as a generation that salvaged the African National Congress from a possible degeneration into a patronising dictatorship of the few. They squarely fitted into the footsteps of all previous generations of the ANC YL leadership, which at all times, defended theANC and revolution for emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular. Themission to craft the ANC we are going to inherit in the future was further determined by the need to reshape government into a force for visible service delivery, not a dispenser of patronage.President Jacob, we believed and continue to believe, had to be at the forefront of the ANC, subsequently government in defining a trajectory which will go a long way in re-energising theANC as a fighting force for people`s liberties.

The mission`s height was at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC, where correct resolutions were taken, possible patronising dictatorship demolished and a sober leadership under the stewardship of President Jacob Zuma elected to lead the ANC to its centenary in 2012. What happened in Polokwane was not a miracle, but a clearly defined programme which required intensive work on cautioning ANC branches on what the real ANC stands for and aims to achieve. Our immediate predecessors were captains of the Polokwane victory, which re-energised the ANC as the fighting force for progressive change. The ANC is certainly destined towards total emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular.

When we were handed the torch in Mangaung to continue leading the ANC YL, we were very aware that the journey was not complete and had to be concluded when Jacob Zuma ascendsthe highest office in the land against all odds. Our mission was to ensure that from Polokwane, there is no destruction of our journey to Pretoria, where President Zuma should lead from forthe next five years. We have discovered and achieved that mission and on the 9th of May 2009, it was fulfilled when President Zuma walked on Church Street, with all security forces on attention, saluting him to the Union Buildings. We all sang in the name of Amandla, Jacob Zuma is President of the Republic of South Africa.

Without shifting the goal posts, it is our strong conviction now that as a generation, our mission is not yet complete. Our visits to all Provinces, particularly poorer provinces during the elections campaign confirmed what we have known for a very long time, that majority of our people; particularly youth continue to live in poverty, and hopelessness. Throughout, we gave people hope that the Zuma led government will improve their living conditions..... that they will have access to better education, healthcare, safety and security, rural development and quality jobs. We further said that they have access to quality better houses as compared to those that were built under the previous administration.

In Middleburg, we promised the poor community of Avalon that sanitation will be improved. In Bramfischerville (Soweto), we promised that the poor state of their roads will be history under the Zuma government. In Nongoma, we promised our people that the fear and insecurity that they lived with under IFP misrule will come to an absolute halt. In Mitchells Plain, we promised the people that water provision will not be disrupted. In Idutywa, we promised the Xhosa King Sicgau that access roads to the palace will be improved. In all the institutions of Higher Learning we visited, we assured, particularly black poor students that their teaching and learning facilities will be made better.

The youth we met in all the campaign activities always complained about joblessness, and we without failure re-affirmed the ANC Manifesto`s commitment that all government programmes under the Zuma government will be driven by the need to create jobs. "Jobs Are Coming", we shouted to loud applauses wherever we spoke to young people. Everywhere we spoke, we said that the ANC Manifesto is not a book of promises, but a programme of action which will guide government on what should be done every day. We assured our people everywhere that the Zuma government will not be a corrupt government, but a government that cherishes competence and excellence.

Those who thought our mission will be completed after the ascendance to power of President Zuma should think again. We have a responsibility to make sure that the promises we made to all the communities we visited and those we could not reach are fulfilled. We need visible delivery in all spheres of government. We need to build on the foundation laid by Nelson Mandela and indeed eradicate poverty and build a non-racial, non-sexist society. In welcoming the ANC`s elections` victory, we said that "the ANC YL will be watching very closely the progress made by government in improving the living conditions of our people. We will openly strengthen the voice of poor people when they protest for houses, water, electricity, sanitation, healthcare, and jobs. The ANC YL will be the first in the coming five years to advocate for speedy and efficient service delivery. We will be the first to speak up whenever there are instances of corruption. We will fight corruption at all levels and expose those who think that government is a path to self-enrichment".

The approach we are adopting does not entail that we will be protagonists of disorder. We have noticed that in most instances, what appeared as insoluble challenges to poor people in communities and workers in various workplaces becomes soluble when the voices of the people are strengthened by the leadership of the ANC and ANC YL. Our communities are crying out for leadership and guidance on many issues. They need to be listened to and will never betray the African National Congress. Silence of leadership in many community struggles will open up space for our detractors and counter-revolutionary forces to mobilise against the ANC.

In the last National Executive Committee meeting of the ANC YL before the 2009 General elections, we said,
"Our support for President Jacob Zuma does not in any way define him outside organisational processes and protocol. Despite our concerted effort to explain that leaders of the ANC are first members of the movement who follow its protocol and process, there is a growing refusal in South Africa`s Media to accept that those who lead the ANC do so within the organisational process of democratic engagements, right to differ and openness until decisions are taken. Once decisions are taken, the right to differ becomes insignificant. Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is a member and President of the African National Congress and definitely the incoming President of the Republic of South Africa. President Zuma owes his leadership of the ANC to the members and supporters of the ANC. He is guided and inspired by their mandates, interests, challenges and aspirations. That is why the ANC`s election message calls for a close working relationship between the ANC government and the people of South Africa to better the living conditions of our people. Working Together, We Can Do More".

This statement continues to guide us and will shape how we relate to the leadership of the ANC in government. We will understand the government collective within the broader mandate given by the African National Congress. Structures and members of the ANC YL should not at all levels believe that the victory of the ANC entails that we are first on the queues of patronage recipients. The kind of service we expect from government should be one that holistically develops our social, economic, political and intellectual wellbeing.

Our emphasis however is centred on our strong conviction that all communities should be mobilised to play a developmental role in the communities. We will be at the forefront of forming and guiding crime fighting street committees, education and health forums, adopt a school campaign, and various programmes which will seek to better the living conditions of our people. We are doing all this because we understand the "Working Together To Do More" as a principle that should underpin all developmental interventions and government programmes which should happen in the incoming 5 years.

We have however derived certain concrete lessons out of the victory of the ANC. The greatest lesson derived is that the ANC is the people of South Africa. None of the individual members of the ANC can ever subjugate the ANC to their devious intentions and actions and succeed. The founders of COPE (Confusion of the People) will after these elections understand that the ANCis the only people`s movement in South Africa, and no one else. The reality is that the African National Congress breakaway faction misnamed Congress of the People (COPE) did not achieve anything close to what its founders and many liberal and inorganic commentators wished and thought it will achieve in the 2009 General elections. COPE is a pseudo political party of detractors and counter-revolutionary forces formed by the faction that supported former President Thabo Mbeki in his democratic, but unfortunate attempt to lead the ANC for a third term.

COPE is undeniably the devious faction with an inbred identity crisis, which will be unavoidably condemned to permanent insignificance. Misreading the 40% of delegates that voted for former President Thabo Mbeki in the 52nd National Conference of the ANC in December 2007, the founders of COPE oddly believed that this could divide the ANC and translate into 40% electoral support in the 2009 General elections, at the expense of the popular support enjoyed by the ANC. Driven by the need and greed to safeguard the wealth and control they unfairly accumulated under the patronage of out gone administration, the founders of COPE believed that they were a force to be reckoned with in South African politics. The 2009 General elections proved that they are not and will never be.

In their initial pronouncements with Mousiou Lekota serving what he called divorce papers to the ANC, the founders of COPE intended to define themselves as the genuine ANC and true custodians of the Freedom Charter. They initially intended to steal not only the ANC name, but its symbols, colours, the Freedom Charter, icons and history. They somewhat believed that this will attract the organic support which the ANC enjoys amongst the people of South Africa. In their lame attempt to attract as many people from various races and genre, they surrendered to the predominant liberal media discourse, which made them to condemn affirmative action and disassociate with the ANC as possible as they could. When the ANC rose to expose them on all the allegations they were making, they chose to cling to a counterfeit moralist posture which underpinned their elections` strategy and message, including hiring a Reverend to be their Presidential candidate. Within four months, COPE assumed various formations and mixed postures, consequently getting exposed as a nonentity that will never grow beyond where it is currently.

It is vividly clear that COPE did not achieve anything close to what its misleaders believed they would achieve, perhaps they did well in relation to nascent political parties, whose only direction after formation has been downward. Those who closely study the history of the ANC and electoral politics in South Africa will affirm the reality that all breakaway factions from the ANC, including the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) and United Democratic Movement (UDM), will spiral downwards. COPE is no exception and the inevitable in-fighting which will define it for thenext five years will be of great assistance.

To suggest that this reality is a result of the resources dedicated for campaigns is simply dishonest. It is scientifically proven that majority of voters do not make electoral choices simply by looking at the attractive posters and billboards. To suggest that such is the case really undermines the intelligence and vigilance of majority of South Africans. Posters and billboard play an important role in reminding and exciting voters of the elections` ambiance, and has little potential to inform electoral choices. The ANC would have decisively won the 2009 General elections even without the glitz and glamour which some believes is the source of the ANC`s support. The ANC is the people and rest assured the 11 million odd voters who re-affirmed theANC are not gullible. It is however not abnormal in a society as huge as South Africa to have Chance-Takers. They exist everywhere in the world and always history condemns them very heavily and the Confusion of the People (COPE) will be no exception.

The African National Congress will live forever and will continue to lead the people of South Africa because the ANC matures with time, cleansing from within elements that could divert it from achieving its strategic goals. The incoming five years will prove that it is good-riddance to those who left the ANC. We now have a responsibility to heal our nation of the past divisions, accusations, allegations, counter-accusations, conspiracies and all sort of disgraceful tendencies which almost tore the ANC and the country apart. President Jacob Zuma is President of South Africa and like Nelson Mandela, he will take the country to greater heights. In defence of their revolution the Cubans say "Hasta La Victoria Siempre", and we can today proudly say that "Our Victory Will Last Forever".