Speech delivered by the president of the ANC Veterans League at the National Consultative Conference-Dr Snuki Zikalala:
Former president of the ANC and of the RSA Thabo Mbeki, Members of the ANC National Executive Committee, Members of parliament, Minister and deputy minister,The broader community of elders and Veterans of the African National Congress, Alliance Partners, Church and Business leaders, SANCO, Student leaders, The Youth, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening.
It is a great honour for us as ANC Veterans to address this seminal gathering aimed at assisting to wrest our country from social and economic collapse and helping to save the soul of our glorious movement the ANC.
At our last conference of the Veterans League which was held in October this year, one of the important resolutions we took was to support the 101 ANC stalwarts and signatories’ quest for a National Consultative Conference.
It is only those who have decided to bury their heads in the sand who will refuse to confront reality, admit that society has turned its back on us. They are reluctant to admit that we have failed society by not delivering on our set objectives, that the ANC brand has been damaged and is now associated with corruption, gross negligence, arrogance and failure to uphold our constitutional values. They don’t acknowledge the urgent need for a National Consultative Conference.
The diagnostic report tabled at the ANC National Policy Conference as well as other reports presented for discussions, present a picture of an organization that has lost its moral compass.
But Comrades, let us not despair. It is not the first time that our glorious movement has been confronted with serious challenges such as these.
It is not the first time, when confronted with a political crisis, that the ANC has convened a National Consultative Conference
Let us recall that in October 1962, the ANC held its first consultative conference in Lobatse, in Botswana. The main objective was to re-organise itself and put structures in place that would continue with the underground work in the country and establish a strong leadership in exile.
In October 1969, the ANC held its second National Consultative Conference in Morogoro in Tanzania.
It was confronted with a crisis of unprecedented proportion. The infiltration of trained and armed cadres of the movement from Tanzania and elsewhere was particularly difficult. Some of the combatants were arrested and served sentences in Botswana. The Wange (Wankie) and Sipolilo campaigns and leadership crisis dominated the conference. What is instructive is that the leadership accepted constructive criticism.
In 1985, another trying time for the movement, the ANC, faced with a myriad of challenges, held its National Consultative Conference where it adopted the four pillars of the struggle and came out stronger, more focused and more resolute.
In 2017, with the political and economic crisis we find ourselves in, it compels us to undergo a thorough introspection as to what went wrong, why have we failed to implement our well researched policies and, do we have the right leadership in place. Also, did we employ skilled,
competent, incorruptible and dedicated bureaucrats capable of implementing our progressive policies.
It is now a painful fact that because of our arrogance and failure to implement our well researched policies, during the 2016 Local Government elections we lost Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg municipalities.
Strong predictions are that if we do not self-correct, if we do not humble ourselves, if we do not deal with corruption and deliver on our set objectives, come 2019, our support will likely drop to less than 47%.
The failure to implement the Public Protector’s State of Capture recommendations and the revelation of the Gupta Emails have further dented the image of our glorious movement and that of government.
On the economic front, we have been slapped with credit down grades and furiously racing towards junk status. Investors are holding back and not prepared to spend on new projects in South Africa.
Our unemployment rate has increased by 27.7% from 26.5 per cent in the previous period. 58 per cent of young people between the ages of 15 to 34 are jobless.
Crime has increased by 9.6% in 2016/17.
It is unacceptable and unprecedented we have such a high turnover of ministers and Directors General. Our cabinet has been reshuffled 11 times resulting in 126 changes to the executive.
Amadel’ukufa ka Tambo, the National Consultative Conference should not be viewed as an opposition to the ANC but as a consultative gathering of like minded citizens who have the interest of the country at heart and who are proposing solutions to our serious social and economic crisis.
This gathering should have a positive impact on the 54th elective conference of the ANC.
As veterans we are concerned that the current pre-occupation with leadership contest will prevent the conference from evaluating progress and adopting policies that will address the concerns of the people. We are equally concerned that we are recycling the same leaders who have failed society, some of whom do not meet the broad requirements of leadership.
Our leaders to be elected should have impeccable credentials. They should lead by example and be role models to ANC members and non-members. They should lead a life that reflects commitment to the strategic goals of the National Democratic Revolution. Not only should they be free from corrupt practices but must actively fight against corruption.
The road ahead is arduous, but the future is bright. We dare not linger and we dare not fail the South African society.