It is often said, although rarely practised, by some within the leadership of the ANC that for the sake of “unity”, members should be publically silent and limit critical comments to internal structures of the ANC.
It is not acceptable that we, other members of the ANC, members of the alliance and supporters have been asked to be silent given the overwhelming evidence of corruption, nepotism and self-interest that is there for all to see.
How can we be asked to be silent when to do so would be a betrayal of everything our fallen comrades fought for, that is not what we understand principled “unity” to be.
We cannot be silent when we see the suppression of discussion through violence and intimidation.
We cannot be silent when we see comrades being threatened and shouted down because they are in the wrong faction, or aligned to the wrong people.
We cannot be silent when comrades and honest employees of the state are killed simply because they are sickened by the level of corruption and wish to speak out.
We will not be silent when every community sees what we see.
No one who believed and still believes in the principles and practices of the ANC in the fight against apartheid; the attainment of our constitutional democracy and the national democratic revolution would want us to be silent.
Silence will only allow the crisis to become deeper, and lead to the demise of the ANC and everything the ANC has stood for in the name and interests of our people.
The ANC is rapidly losing the legitimacy and trust of our people. The longer the crisis in our movement and country is not confronted the deeper the crisis will become.
We refuse to pretend that the call for “unity” by certain members of the present leadership is anything more than a refusal to accept the depth of the crisis the ANC and, by definition, the Country faces.
On Friday, the African National Congress will open the policy conference as preparation for the elective conference to be held in December this year.
The leadership of ANC is going ahead with this policy conference and are deliberately ignoring the outrage within our communities and our movement as the project of state capture becomes more and more obvious to all who are prepared to open their eyes and see it.
The Constitutional Court rulings that the president violated his oath of office and that Parliament failed to hold the executive accountable show that our constitutional democracy is under threat by some within the very leadership entrusted to protect it.
Project state capture is a fundamental cause of poor governance and failures in service delivery, caused by collusion between companies and state officials who reap substantial private gains from the continuation of weak governance.
The assertions of the stalwarts in the document we prepared last year, have now been further vindicated by the Unburdening Report of the South African Council of Churches, in which the processes and machinations of certain government officials in aiding and abetting state capture are laid bare.
We are also deeply concerned about the systematic emasculation of the law enforcement agencies that are being progressively rendered powerless and ineffective in the execution of their duties.
However, our constitutional democracy, founded by the ANC, remains strong and the judiciary has consistently shown its independence. We should not forget our Constitution and the separation of powers was, in part because of the concerns of senior members of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, about counter revolutionary tendencies within the movement.
Throughout the engagement of stalwarts with the leadership of the ANC, we have consistently advocated the need for a national consultative conference, born out of the historical experience of the ANC.
For example, the national consultative conference at Morogoro on 1969 became a landmark and a turning point in our struggle. As was the ANC conference of 1991.
We now need a similar turning point to overcome the crisis we face.
Why are the stalwarts not participating in the first two days of the ANC policy conference?
As you are no doubt aware, in spite of some media reports to the contrary, we have taken the decision not to participate in the first two days of the policy.
It may be useful to give some background to this decision:
Late last year, the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) finally agreed to our request for a consultative conference and set aside two days before the policy conference.
Immediately after this meeting of the NEC we requested that the decision should be reviewed to ensure that participants had ample time to engage with discussion documents, including “for the sake of our future”, so there could be the development of a common understanding of the crisis and rational solutions found.
Despite this request no more discussion by the NEC on this issue has taken place.
The decision of the stalwarts not to participate in the first two days of the policy conference was also based on the following factors:
• The failure of the president to raise our proposed separation of the policy conference from the national consultative conference with the national executive committee, as formally promised;
• The continued denial by elements of the leadership to accept the decision of the NEC to hold a consultative conference;
• The total failure of the delegated leadership of the national working committee and the so called “top six” to work with the stalwarts to plan for a consultative conference. It is a simple fact that there was no planning;
• The failure of the officials of the ANC to report back to the national executive committee on the outcomes of discussions with the stalwarts;
• The total failure of the leadership to ensure the preparation and circulation of any documents that the participants to the first two days of the policy conference would be able to objectively discuss;
• The decision to advertise the first two days of the policy conference as a discussion on “the concerns” of the stalwarts; and
• It was clear in our discussions with the delegated leadership of the ANC that there was no intention of allowing for a real consultative conference.
We therefore, reasonably believed that by attending and participating in the two days set aside would have been an exercise in futility and would not have provided solutions to the crisis we collectively face.
We now note that the agenda has been changed and the first two days will now be spend on policy matters, reinforcing our belief that the leadership of the ANC is not prepared to confront the crisis and project state capture.
There will always be those who deny there is a crisis.
This is in the hope that if you repeat a lie often enough it will be seen as the truth.
This is an insult to every citizen of our beloved country who every day of their lives see the consequences of project state capture and the effects of it on their communities.
To combat the project of state capture will require the cooperation by all progressive forces both within the ANC and the wider movement to ensure that there is the widest possible discussion on the crisis we face.
We call on all structures of the ANC, the alliance, and other progressive organisations to honestly reflect on their own failures and to find solutions.
The problems are far wider that any individuals in leadership or those involved in corruption, nepotism and state capture.
It will also require the organisation of a real consultative conference to honestly reflect on all that is presently wrong within the ANC, not only at a leadership level and to find sustainable and realistic solutions.
It is our intention to work towards a date in September for this conference to take place;
We call on all loyal members of the ANC, especially those who worked patiently and resolutely against apartheid to help confront this new threat to our people.
We call on all ex-members of the ANC to return to the fold to work to confront project state capture and help to reinstall the traditions of our movement.
We also call on all supporters of the ANC and those who felt unable to vote for their party in the local government elections to work with us to ensure that the reasons for their historical support are restored and we can again legitimately say the ANC truly represents the attainment of the Freedom Charter and the protection of our constitutional democracy.
For our part, as stalwarts we will not turn our backs on the ANC and will continue to work for a return to the values and principles of our movement and country we have dedicated our lives to.
We will work within and with the ANC to facilitate and help in the correction of our movement through honest self-reflection and finding the solutions to the crisis that the ANC and by definition the country faces.
Time is not on our side, but we will make time and create the space for the necessary discussions to take place and the solutions to be found.