Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s address to the ANC’s cadre forum in Sasolburg, Free State, 13 April 2017
On the 13 April 2017 Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gave a keynote speech to the ANC ‘s cadre forum in Sasolburg, Free State. The ANC’s Free State provincial leadership were present, including Premier of the Free State Ace Magashule. Also in attendance were: Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister of Social Development ANC NEC member and ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, Minister of Science and Technology and ANC NEC member Naledi Pandor. Dlamini-Zuma’s speech was interpreted by some as “illuminating” and the full-blooded start of her election campaign for president of the ANC.
The following is a transcript of her remarks:
Members of the NEC, of the ANC, members of the NEC of the Women’s League, members of the Youth League, members of the Veterans League, and more importantly, comrades.
It’s very wonderful to be here again, especially in the Free State. Because the Free State is the home of our organisation, and therefore the Free State, led by comrade Ace, has a bigger responsibility than any of us, to be exemplary as the home of the ANC. When it’s difficult we must say, but the Free State is on course, the Free State is united. It’s not a mistake that the ANC was formed in the Free State.
But we must also remember as comrades have reminded us, that this year has been declared the year of Oliver Tambo. Now Oliver Tambo, is very important in the history of our organisation, because he led our organisation for the longest time, during the most difficult times, and he brought back the organisation, this glorious movement of ours, strong and united. And so, declaring this year as his year is very important, but also we must look at ourselves as comrade Naledi has said, and remind ourselves what is the strategic mission of our organisation today.
We know that during OR’s time, the most important task was to defeat apartheid and colonisation of a special type. And it was to build collective resistance, and we know that when this organisation was born, it was born not only as the ANC, but also the nation of South Africa. Because it was in 1912 that we all declared that we are burying the demon of tribalism, we are going to have loyalty to this movement and to this country collectively.
And of course, this country was taken away from us. Our land was dispossessed, I won’t say much about that, because the comrades ahead of me have said. And so the ANC had to unite the people of South Africa, as a whole, had to work with all the organisations whether it’s the Communist Party, SACTU, women, youth, students, right through the times of our struggle in order to defeat apartheid.
And it was important to ensure that the organisation remained strong, remained united, despite all the difficulties that it faced, and remained united around principles and values of the ANC. And also, that it built a strong cadre-ship, that led this organisation. And I just want to remind ourselves, because of the difficulties we are facing, of what OR said when he in 1991, at the 1991 conference. Handed over the ANC to the new leadership, when gave the report of what he and comrades had done. He gave a long report which I won’t go through.
But I just want to quote what he said towards the end, and some of you may remember. He said: “Before I sit down, I wish to make a few observations”, and he continued to say “we did not tear ourselves apart, because of lack of progress at times, we were always ready to accept our mistakes and correct them. Above all we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the African National Congress, and the unity of our people in general. Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom, we’ve never been in doubt that the people’s cause shall triumph”.
Now comrades, comrade OR said this, and he knew through his leadership that there had been bleak moments. They had difficult moments, but the organisation never teared itself apart, and we are not going to do it today. So, we have a solid history to build on, it’s not like difficulties are coming for the first time today. And we have a history, and we know how our comrades acted at different times of difficulties.
And so, when OR handed the organisation, of course we were entering a new terrain. We were coming back from exile, and we were coming back from internal MDM [Mass Democratic Movement], and we had to negotiate, and of course we had to navigate that at the same time we had to build structures of the organisation, because up to that point the organisation had been illegal. So we had to build the structures of the organisation, as a legal organisation, and there were things that guided us, values that guided us. Because our organisation has always been focused on serving the people, on leadership that is disciplined, committed, and cadres that were committed and dedicated to the organisation.
It didn’t mean that we did not have differences. Those of you may remember how even when we went to Luthuli from provinces, in what was called the negotiations forum, because during the negotiations the leadership always called representatives from provinces regions that time. To explain, and also get ideas from the provinces and regions. There were robust debates, because you always come with different ideas, there were robust debates. But what guided us was when those debates were over, whatever was decided, we all marched one line, in one voice.
We’ve never had a situation, where now you come with your ideas you debate them, if my idea is defeated and I see no no the majority feels like this, it’s my responsibility once the collective has taken the decision to defend that decision. Not to go off and say “I don’t agree [isiZulu]”, that is not our culture. That is not the value of the ANC, whether you’re a leader at whatever level, once the collective has taken a decision. If you feel strongly about that decision, at the next NEC meeting you must raise it again, until you convince all of us to go that route. As long as the collective is not convinced, you have a responsibility outside to defend the collective. And so even, even in provinces and regions it must be like that, that’s what we know.
But of course, the context within which you operate is changing. And so we must always go back, assess, and debate as the ANC has always done. Of course, we also have principles, some of them they have been our strategic objectives. Some of them have been expounded by comrade Naledi. But I think we must always be guided by our strategy and tactics, we must always be willing to renew, and to improve our organisation.
And of course, when we go through elective conferences we have the eye of the needle that guides us. But as the ANC in this conjuncture, we have the responsibility of building a democratic and a development state. Which is social and economic transformation, build social cohesion and unite the South African people.
Now a development state is not the same as an ordinary state, a development state intervenes to make sure that there is progress whether in social or economic issues. So there’s nothing wrong when the state intervenes, we are a developmental state, and we should intervene. We should also look at the transformation, de-racialisation of our economy, and also women must be part of that economy. So we must make sure that the exclusive growth, there’s shared prosperity. There is no country that I know in the world, whose economy is run by the minority in the country, and the mainstream, the majority of the population is not part of the mainstream of the economy. This is South Africa today.
And that has to change, it’s not sustainable. We can’t sustain the situation where the majority of the people are not participating in the economy. So, it’s not wanting to exclude or to do what, we just want to do what is right. And so, that is a task at hand for our organisation. Of course we have to do organisational work, to make sure that our organisation is strong.
Now comrades, all this talk about Radical Economic Transformation is not going to happen if we’re not united. Because it’s not going to be easy, we’ve already seen, it’s the first time I’ve seen banks allowing people to go out to the street and close the banks. It’s the first time I hear companies. So, it’s clear that Radical Economic Transformation is going to be opposed. And if we are not united, how are we going to do it.
You know there used to be a time, I remember when I was in [the Ministry for] Health, I had lots of problems then with all sorts of companies. And I remember one day comrade Blade coming to me, and saying “my sister, I don’t understand these issues of pharmaceutical, but when I see the forces lined up against you I know you must be right”. Why today do we align ourselves with DA, and think we’re right? It cannot be. Even if you don’t understand the issues, before you understand them you can’t attack a comrade. But also, you see whose lined up against or for, if the same oppressors are lined up against you I must say “ugh-ugh, I must defend this comrade”.
That’s how we should be in the ANC. And if we think there’re mistakes, there’ll always be mistakes, let’s go back home let’s discuss them, and let’s agree on the way forward. Of course we also have to, the place where we are failing I think, and I can say it even better because I’ve been outside looking inward from outside, we are losing the battle of ideas. Not because we don’t have good ideas, but somehow we are not communicating effectively.
And so, we need to ensure that not only the ideological struggle but the narrative out there is our narrative. Because at the moment the dominant narrative out there, is not our narrative. And so, our people are getting confused, because they are bombarded day in and day out with this narrative that is against the ANC, against our organisation. So I think that’s one of the things that we must strengthen, everywhere, at national and provincial, at regional, at the branch level. We must ensure that we communicate with our people effectively.
And of course comrades, we must also remind ourselves, that the strength of the organisation is in its cadres. In 2012, we declared the decade of the cadre, isn’t it? Do we still remember that? So we’re five years into the decade of the cadre, and it’ll be interesting to hear – maybe not today – but sometime, province by province, branch by branch, how much work have we done to develop our cadres. Comrade Naledi said our membership is declining, but membership alone is a expression of intention to be a cadre. Doesn’t mean that when you join the ANC today and pay your twelve Rands, or hundred Rands, you’ve suddenly become a cadre.
A cadre is developed, instilled in the struggle. So we need to ensure that we develop members that come into cadres, doesn’t happen automatically. And it’s very important that our members should tell the politics, because when they have the politics, they be able to analyse what is going on. They will not be taken by anyone who says “this is right”, and they go. You know comrade Shoke[?], when he did his political work, he would also say “a soldier without politics is a lesser man”. What is an ANC member without politics? Or an ANC leader without politics?
We need to ensure that the ANC politics, the ANC values are instilled in our members. And of course, it doesn’t mean that it’s an event, we all, at all times have to keep learning. Because, as some of you will know that comrade Kgalema[?] used to like saying “political consciousness does not bid you goodbye, it just disappears”. And you think you are still okay, and you say things and people wonder “what has happened?”, “what has happened?”, and when I don’t see, you think you are still fine.
So, all of us have to keep learning, that’s why we come to this forum because in discussions we will learn. We keep attending ANC meetings, we keep reading, so that our political consciousness does not leave us. Because it can. So, this is not just for new members, it’s for all of us at all levels. And also, he used to like saying “comrades I’m teaching you politics today, so that you can use it one day against me if I deviate from ANC policies”.
So, politics in ANC should be something we live by, it’s not an event that happens once a year. It must be something that is in us, so that if I go wrong comrade Naledi can say to me “comrade Nkosazana”, it doesn’t even have to be comrade Naledi, any comrade from the branch can say “comrade Nkosazana”, because that comrade in the branch is a cadre. He understands the values, and she understands the commitments, the policies of the ANC, and if I’m no longer going right he can say “ugh-ugh”.
You know comrade Bathabile talked about the time I was going to the AU, one youth league comrade came to me and said “no comrade you must refuse, why are you going, why are they sending you to exile?”. So I said “comrade it’s the ANC saying I must go, how do I refuse? How do I tell you tomorrow as the youth that you must obey the ANC if I don’t obey the ANC?”.
So comrades, it’s very important to build the cadres in the movement, because it’s the cadres that will be able to defend this organisation. It’s the cadres that will be able to put us in line as leaders if we go wrong, it’s the cadres that will ensure that the opposition does not dictate to us as comrade Naledi was saying. How dare anyone say, is it not an insult to us as ANC, that if we vote in secret we will vote differently than if we vote in public? I would find that an insult. Because as a public representative you are there to represent the electorate, and you are there as an ANC MP to represent the ANC, why do you want to hide from the ANC what you are doing in Parliament?
There must be something wrong there, and I’m glad that the ANC has not agreed to that. Because even if you want to vote whichever way, you must do it with integrity and honesty, and be able to defend your position. Why do you want to do things and hide, and not be known? It’s strange. So, I just want to also say, cadres at all times must have the revolutionary consciousness, must have the revolutionary discipline as well. They must be committed to serve and love our people, they must be dedicated, as cadres we must be dedicated. But we must serve with humility, not with arrogance.
We must also be ready to self-improve, we must understand our tasks, understand the motive forces, understand the balance of forces, and therefore be able to take the correct decision. We must also have gender consciousness, you can’t be a cadre and be a male chauvinist. Cadres, OR once said in his speech that no country can boast of being free until the women are emancipated. So, and he said it’s not the duty of women alone to mobilise women and emancipate them, it’s all of us as cadres, we have that responsibility.
And so, as we recruit new members we must make sure that they are ideologically rooted and schooled in ANC, and they understand our progressive policies. And are able to undertake tasks that are assigned to them. And so, five years into the decade of the cadre, it’s high time that we review and see how well we’ve done, in ensuring that the decade of cadre, is indeed the decade of the cadre.
And we must, as I said cadres must always be able to – as we are going to do in our policy conference, in our policy discussions – to understand the balance of forces, and to understand the motive forces, that we have to work with. But again, we must be honest when we analyse what is going on. We can’t not admit that the organisation is weak, at this point in time. And of course, once we are weak and once we are divided, we cannot mobilise and unite society.
And the laws of nature, let alone politics, just the laws of nature, do not allow a vacuum. Where the ANC leaves a vacuum, others come in as we can see. It is also our weakness to some extent that we see people now occupying the streets. But we must make sure that we come together and unite, so that we can ensure that democracy is upheld. We’re not going to have Presidents that are elected through the streets. When we have a Constitution that says how we should elect, how democracy should be.
We used to occupy the streets, because we had an illegitimate government. And a government that we had no say in, we had no vote. So, the only thing we could do was to go to the streets, and our glorious army did its work. Now we have democracy, we must tell them that they must be democratic, they must exercise democracy. The DA cannot want to run this country through the streets, or through the courts. They cannot, and they should not. But if we are divided and weak, they will. As we can see, they’ve started.
So, it’s very important for us that a comrade is a comrade, we must work together. No factions, we must do away with. We must work together. Unity is strength. Unity is strength. Divided we fall, united we stand.
So all of us, I’m happy I see a very strong cadres forum here. And I’m sure the discussions are going to be very interesting. But let me also say, to unite our people, as we have said we must first be united. And we must go to our people with a programme, so that we can be united in action, actioning our programme. And of course, we must work with the alliance, and we must admit the alliance is weak, and we should strengthen it all of us. COSATU must be strong, SACP must be strong, the ANC must be strong, and together we must be strong.
If we are not the enemy will come in. The NEC as the working committee’s Naledi has said, that we cannot be participating in marches, participating in programmes that are not ANC programmes, as ANC members and cadres. And comrades, the ANC has done a lot, we all know, even here in the Free State, we know where we were before ’94, we can see a vast difference.
And we must be able to communicate where we have done well, but where we have not done well I must say, is in the economy. And I think we have done well by recognising that, it’s not that we haven’t recognised it as the ANC, we have. And that’s why we are saying we want Radical Economic Transformation, because we realise that in the last 23 years we have not really be able to transform this economy.
Comrades if we look at the economy – I’m not a Minister, so Naledi said each Minister must talk about their own – so I’ll talk as an ANC cadre. And I support of course what government is doing, the Minister Finance everybody, but I think it’s important for us to look at a few things. Why is it that the Finance Ministry is so crucial, why is the finance sector so crucial? The finance sector is the commanding heights of the economy. If you don’t control the finance sector, you cannot control the economy!
So where are we in the commanding heights of the economy? Who owns the financial sector? Why is that me and you, cannot easily go to a bank and get some help if I want to start a business? So, we must address that. I think this economy can absorb a few more bangs, but those bangs must have the right orientation in terms of assisting the mainstream economy to absorb the black people in general, and Africans in particular.
So, and I’m saying this because the ANC when was it that we decided, that the post bank? [Naledi Pandor: “2007”] 2007! We’ve already taken that decision, it’s not that I’m saying something new. It’s ANC policy, but where’s the implementation. So, we need to speed up.
The Women’s League, in their last conference if I remember correctly. They took a decision, that there should be a women’s bank. We need to look at that, and say how do we do that. Because the people who suffer most, one are black people if they want financial assistance, but within those black people the women and the youth are the worst. It’s very difficult to get financial help. But it’s not only in South Africa, it’s even in the continent in general, it’s the same. Women and youth find it very difficult to get financial assistance, and that must change.
The second thing is, I’ll talk about what we were discussing in the continent about mineral resources and natural resources. We’re saying the continent as a whole, has almost every mineral that every economy in the world needs. Most of the developed economies have developed on our raw materials, whether they be in the East, whether they be in the West. Every country whether it’s Japan, whether it’s Korea, whether it’s France, whether it’s UK, whether it’s the US, has always needed what we have. But how come we are not developing?
We have – if you look at computers, cell phones, and so on – the minerals, the rare minerals that you need for that are found here, on the continent. But none of us manufacture cell phones, or computers. So, we must go to manufacturing, we must go to value addition, and we must make sure that we have black industrialists, black owned companies. Because, yes we’ve got BEE, which has worked to a point, but on the whole the BEE has absorbed black people into existing companies, has not created new companies. So, we need to look at how to create new companies. So that we can create more jobs, get more revenue for the country, and have shared prosperity.
So value addition is very important, and how we use our minerals is important. If we’ve got minerals here, how come the communities around here on the whole tend to be the poorest. And yet they are sitting on these minerals, on their land. Everything just get taken out, and out. We must begin to engage these companies, more!
We have been engaging them, but I think we need to engage them more. But also, we are saying we have lots of unemployment, which is true. But if we take something raw, whether it’s a tomato, or an orange, or, and take it out as an orange, to Spain or to wherever. And then Spain makes juice out of it, makes jam out of it, makes paste out of it. They get more money, and they create jobs in Spain with our orange!
So, we must begin to add value and create jobs here. So that we also export manufactured goods, more and more. And that will give us more revenue and it will create more jobs. But this is not going happen without resistance, because those who are benefitting are going to resist. Because if you stop sending things raw, it means they can’t create those jobs there to process. So, they will resist. They will try and divide us. They will try and do everything, but we have a historic responsibility to transform this economy. It’s not a choice!
Let me tell you what OR said, remind you, I quote: “it is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the country to the people as a whole. To allow the existing economic forces to retain their interest intact, is to feed the roots of racial supremacy and exploitation, and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.”.
So, we have a duty, this is what OR said. So, until the wealth of this country is returned, it means we do not have even the shadow of liberation. So the struggle continues, and we mustn’t be scared when the opposition says “ARGH!”, we can’t run at the first siren of the enemy. It cannot be. They must know we’re here, the struggle for democracy we have won. But we cannot sustain democracy, if we don’t have economic power.
Because power, power is not just the vote, power is not just Parliament, the Executive, the Judiciary. Probably 80% of the power is the economy, and 20% is what we have. So, we must understand that the struggle continues. And once we understand that the struggle continues, we will be able to navigate these difficult times. Because we will know when the struggle continues, it needs strong cadres, it needs united cadres, it needs action as comrade Mosebenzi was saying people are hungry for action.
So, we must not be apologetic about the economy, that’s what our forbearers said that’s what OR said, and many others. That liberation will truly come, when we are also controlling the economy. The wealth of this country. We can’t be the majority, the ruling party, but the wealth resides somewhere else. So, comrades we need – as comrade Naledi said – to close rank, to have our cadre forums, discuss politics, go out not only to our members, but to our supporters. To the public at large, and engage.
The ANC is an engaging organisation, it’s not afraid of debates, it debates within itself and outside. Let’s engage. Let our people understand what we are trying to do, and let them realise that they have to be part of this struggle for economic emancipation. And once they understand that, we’ll have no problems with our people. Yes, we may have problems with others, but our people we will not.
So, I’m also happy with the Women’s League, because it is connecting us with our communities. As an ANC cadre, you be able to know exactly what’s going on in your community. Who needs help, who needs assistance, and they should look up to you for leadership in your community. And once we are leaders in or community, we will be leaders in society. Because society is our communities.
So, it is incumbent upon us as government, as the ANC, to implement. If you look at our policies most things are there, it’s the implementation. We must build capacity to implement. We must make sure that our young people also understand what needs to be done. Because I was talking to some young people and they were telling me, what they learn at school, I was shocked. All of us can we go back and just see what our kids are being taught, in these Model C schools, they are actually taught against the ANC. They – not that it’s propaganda – they are taught at school.
So, it’s not surprising that the kids will think, ANC is corrupt, ANC is useless, ANC; because that’s what they are fed at school. And I think that must also be transformed. And that’s why they can say there was a advantage in being colonised, because that’s what they teach our kids. There’s no advantage whatsoever, in colonisation, but our kids think there is because they are taught that.
And before I sit, even at university some university students were telling me that there were actually, they’re actually not allowed in their thesis – comrade Naledi – to say South Africa is a democracy. Yes. They are not allowed to say that South Africa is a democracy, they invert and others. They say “no, no, South Africa is not a democracy, because it’s like a one-party state. Until the opposition takes over, then we can say South Africa is a democracy”. And kids have to write it, because if they don’t they will fail. If you want to pass your Masters, that’s what you have to say. Yes.
They are taught that there is no freedom, they can’t use the word “freedom” to describe South Africa. So, we must really look into, I think what we have been looking at is access, looking at that kids are passing. But we are not looking at what, when they pass, what is the knowledge that has been imparted to them. So I think that’s another area that we have to look at.
But in conclusion comrades, I want again, because it’s the year of OR to quote him again and he said: “racial discrimination, South Africa’s economic power is oppression and exploitation of all the black peoples, are part and parcel of the same thing”. He says racial discrimination and South Africa’s economic power, is oppression and exploitation of all back peoples, are part and parcel of the same thing. So it means we’ve done and dealt with one part, the other part – which is the economic power – we have not dealt with. So, this must be understood, that it is part of our mission. It’s part of our strategic mission as the ANC, to do that.
I hear people saying, the radio analysts “oh why now, why?”, anytime it’s our mission. Now, tomorrow, the other day! It will remain our mission. Until it’s done, it will remain our mission. So, comrades, without taking too much time, because our leader here in the Free State has to talk.
I just want to say, comrades, comrade Naledi through the NWC report has given us the marching orders. We go, we mobilise, we organise, we unite, and we lead. Not only our structures, but society, and that’s what we must be doing, and we must not allow them to distract us from our strategic mission. And we will be chasing them there, chasing them there, chasing them there, and not focusing on our strategic mission. We must not allow them to do that.
Comrades, those are the few things I wanted to share with you and say. Amandla! Viva ANC Viva! Malibongwe! Forward To Radical Economic Transformation Forward! Forward To Radical Economic Transformation Forward! Forward To Unity Forward! Forward To Leadership Of Society Forward! Malibongwe! Long Live The ANC Long Live! Long Live Oliver Tambo Long Live! Long Live Chis Hani Long Live! Long Live Solomon Mahlangu Long Live! Long Live The People’s Movement Long Live! Long Live Our Leadership Long Live! Long Live Our President Long Live!
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