DURBAN, January 8 – Cyril Ramaphosa has said that the African National Congress (ANC) must return to its roots and draw on the values of its founders in order to strengthen itself.
The newly elected ANC president was speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony for former ANC president, John Langalibalele Dube, at Ohlange High School in Inanda as part of the party’s 106th anniversary celebrations.
“We want to go back to the value system that guided their lives so that we root out all of the bad things that have crept into our movement and the body politic of our country. We are determined to root our corruption in our ranks as it undermines our people. By doing this, we will also be strengthening the ANC,” said Ramaphosa.
He said that South Africa’s history started in 1912 when Dube became the first president of the ANC. “That was when struggle for human dignity got underway in our country.”
The newly elected leadership has been in the province since Sunday, where they paid homage to Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. Monday was set aside for wreath laying and tributes at the graves of ANC founders.
“We are here to report back to our first president. When President Nelson Mandela came to vote here in 1994, he said ‘I have come to report that SA is free’. Today we are here to report that we have emerged from our 54th conference and held a successful conference. The ANC is still here, is Still alive and has elected a unified leadership that is going to forge unity within the movement.”
Ramaphosa said that the new leaders also wanted to celebrate the promise Dube made to South Africans of a non-racial, non-sexist society that was democratic and prosperous. “This is a South Africa we are in the process of developing. Dube laid very important foundation stones,” he said.
The party’s 54th national conference held last month had adopted “important policies” that Dube and others had advocated, said Ramaphosa. These included justice and returning land to the majority of the population.
“Many years later, we are saying the land will be returned. We are going to take the land and put in the hands of our people whether they like it or not. We will do this to enhance the development of our country,” he said.
Dube would have wanted the party to commence with a programme of radical socio-economic transformation that was in the interests of the people, he said.
“The work they started in 1912 has given us a great deal of opportunities, and we are going to take them up. In the course of doing so, we will adhere to the value system they adhered to.”
Newly-elected African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa made a call for party unity in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday in the presence of provincial ANC heavyweights Sihle Zikalala and Senzo Mchunu, mentioning both men by name in the process.
The KwaZulu-Natal ANC has been locked in a factional battle that has been playing out in court over its disputed November 2015 provincial conference where Zikalala was elected provincial chairman, beating opponent and then incumbent Mchunu.
Zikalala supported Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in her bid as ANC president at the party’s 54th national conference held in December, while Mchunu had lobbied for Ramaphosa.
“KZN is far too important to the life of the ANC for it to remain divided. We cannot accept a divided KZN. The national conference is over, and there is only one winner, the African National Congress. As Cadre Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said during the conference, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’,” said Ramaphosa.
He was speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony for the first ANC president, John Langalibalele Dube, at Ohlange High School in Inanda. The ceremony was part of the ANC’s 106th anniversary celebrations.
Dlamini-Zuma was present at the event, as were new national treasurer Paul Mashatile and secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Ramaphosa said that when he visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu at his Osuthu Palace on Sunday, the king pressed for a united provincial leadership. “He asked us to shake hands and make peace. We all reached out and shook hands with each other. It was a joy to watch Cadre Senzo and Cadre Sihle shaking hands,” said Ramaphosa.
“At all levels we must rid ourselves of factionalism and groupings. There is only one group that must work only to unite the African National Congress. We cannot go into 2019 with a divided ANC. We must unite the province,” he said.
Ramaphosa said he was “humbled and in awe” to be able to stand by the gravesite of Dube, and encouraged the party’s leaders to “draw lessons” from Dube’s values, which included honesty and promoting the needs of the South African people.
Speaking in Pietermaritzburg at the Mountain Rise Cemetery at a wreath laying for former party president Josiah Tshangana Gumede, newly elected ANC deputy president David Mabuza admitted that divisions in the ruling party were “a huge problem” and said they needed to be confronted head-on.
Last month’s national conference had emphasised unity, he said, “and this time, we are demanding unity in the movement”. “Without unity, there is no ANC”.
He also said that it was important to give Ramaphosa support in his new role so that he was able to succeed. “His work is our work,” he said.
The African National Congress (ANC), which is the oldest liberation movement on the continent, on Monday celebrated 106 years since its historic formation on 8 January 1912.
In a statement the ruling party said its birthday celebration was particularly important as it immediately follows the seminal 54th National Conference held in December 2017, under the theme “Remember Tambo: Towards unity, renewal and radical socio-economic transformation”.
“It also takes place, amongst others, in the year in which South Africa and the world will celebrate 100 years since the birth of the father of our nation and icon of our struggle, Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe Comrade Nelson Mandela,” the statement said.
“Emboldened by the resolutions of the 54th National Conference and inspired by the life of Comrade Mandela and his generation, we mark this 106th anniversary of the founding of the ANC, cognizant that ours is to emulate Madiba’s legacy of selflessness, sacrifice and commitment to the unity of the organisation, the mass democratic movement and the people of South Africa.
“In celebrating the last 106 years of the African National Congress, we must never lose sight of the selfless sacrifices of thousands of people, many remain nameless and faceless who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.”
The ANC said it was now more than ever more united and determined to lead the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
“This will, however, only be achieved when we work together to address the persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality,” the ANC said.
“In this regard we have identified four key priorities, being to place the economy on a better trajectory, deepen transformation and consolidate the gains of democracy, relentlessly fight corruption in all its forms and build unity within the ANC and the country as a whole.”
Guided by the Freedom Charter’s call that “the people shall share in the country’s wealth”, the ANC said it “shall as urgently as possible”, bring together, government, the labour movement, business and communities in a social pact to accelerate economic growth and create jobs.
The ANC said it has also adopted a radical programme to fast track land redistribution by creating the legislative framework to pursue expropriation of land without compensation.
The party said more details on these and other programmes will be contained in the January 8 Statement to be delivered by the newly elected ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa at the birthday celebrations to be held at the ABSA Stadium, East London, on Saturday.
Ramaphosa is also SA deputy president.