SPEECH BY ANC VETERANS LEAGUE PRESIDENT, CDE SNUKI ZIKALALA ON 8 JANUARY 2024
On behalf of the Veteran’s League of the ANC, I stand here today to congratulate the ANC on its 112th birthday. I bring greetings from veterans across the country who last year organised into branches and provinces and in July 2023 held our third national conference. We are now a properly constituted structure – ready, able and willing to contribute to the renewal of the ANC, a better South Africa for all and a decisive victory in the national and provincial elections later this year.
What is this political moment that the ANC faces as it enters its 112th year?
We recognise that our economy is improving now after impact of COVID, while high interest rates and inflation especially food inflation intensify the poverty and hunger faced by too many South Africans. In 2022 according to the International Labour Organisation, ILO, South Africa had the highest unemployment rate and the lowest proportion of informal employment globally.
The splintering of political parties and the rise of new small parties and individual candidates standing for election is both an expression and a threat to our vibrant democracy. Most of these new formations don’t have clear policy positions and espouse populist views, merely seeking power for their own interests. We must ensure that we clear up any confusion that is being spread about Umkhonto we Sizwe… which was the armed wing of the ANC and whose identity is now being stolen.
In South Africa, the challenge of the political moment is to preserve our human rights and democratic values while achieving economic growth and transformation. The ANC is the only political party with solid and sustainable policies and a track record of delivering on them, despite the recent setbacks because of Covid and slow economic growth.
In implementing these policies, we must always be guided by the imperative to serve the people and build a better life for all. We have to refute through our actions, that the ANC as a political party is self-serving.
Mr President, an ANC that leads, is an ANC that can reflect and have foresight. The Manifesto Review process allowed us to reflect, the forthcoming ANC Election Manifesto allows us to exercise foresight. At the ANC 55th National Conference, we outlined the priorities of the ANC for the next five years, including addressing economic reconstruction, service delivery, crime and corruption. As the ANC VL we believe that the ANC Election Manifesto must focus on these priorities and the promises we make need to be principled but practical, ambitious but humble, and above all, we must not overpromise.
In addition to a quality election manifesto and grassroots campaigning, it is the strong belief of the VL that a credible National and Provincial candidate list is our best chance of winning an outright majority. We are all aware that the ANC Constitution makes it clear that “engaging in any unethical or immoral conduct which detracts from the character, values and integrity of the ANC” is an act of misconduct as it brings the organisation into disrepute.
The appointment of ANC members to higher office even though such members have allegations of corruption or unethical behaviour against them will undermine the support of the ANC. We must be certain that those implicated by the Zondo, VBS and other commissions appear before the Integrity Commission as instructed by the ANC NEC way back in April 2023. If not, they must be processed by the National Disciplinary Committee of the ANC before the nomination lists are finalised. We repeat that this must be done before the nomination lists are finalised. If we achieve this, we will certainly regain the confidence of the electorate once again, and we will go well beyond the 51%.
We welcome the changes that have happened so far including the screening of potential candidates to ensure they have no criminal records nor allegations of financial mismanagement, malfeasance or gender-based violence against them.
We as the VL have been on this journey with you and want to continue to do so. Currently, we are part of developing an intense political programme by the OR Tambo School of Leadership focusing on the values, principles, and ethical leadership of ANC members.
As the Veteran’s League, we are an integral part of the ANC. Veterans embody the organisational experience and institutional memory of the movement and the people’s struggle for freedom and democracy and are required as per the Preamble of our Constitution to “play an important role in reinforcing the traditions, history, values and unity of the movement”.
At our recent Conference, we recommitted ourselves to ensuring that every veteran of the movement belongs to a VL and ANC branch and thereby in all structures of the ANC. Since then, we have been active in key areas of work of the ANC NEC including political education, the local government intervention task team and were part of a team that developed the ANC political frame on coalitions at local governments. Mr President, the ANCVL is committed to driving the implementation of the ANC renewal programme and actively participating in the election programme for victory on election day.
We should not feel threatened by those who are leaving our ranks because either they have been subject to our disciplinary processes or fear them. Let us remind each other of the words of our revered leader, OR Tambo: “Beware the wedge driver. Watch his poisonous tongue”. Comrades, to continue to live and to lead, we need to intensify the renewal of the ANC. In addition to weeding opportunists and thieves from our ranks, we need to rebuild ANC structures from branch to national level so that we can more effectively connect with our people, listen to them and take forward their aspirations.
Internationally, we are witnessing tragic conflicts. Genocide committed by the Israeli government against the Palestinians. The Ukraine war and Sudan amongst others. And we are seeing the devastation to lives and livelihoods as a result of climate change.
When we look beyond our borders, we should be grateful that South Africans are led by an ANC government which observes human rights and has taken the matter of genocide in Gaza to the International Court of Justice. We commend the general public for the solidarity it has and continues to show, for the Palestinian People.
We also applaud the leading role South Africa has played in addressing climate change and leading the way at Cop28 to ensure that more is done by developed countries to address the loss and damage they have caused in developing countries. This is the principled role that we should continue to play in the international arena, honouring our long history of reciprocal international solidarity.
Mr President, in your January 8th statement in Mangaung last year, you said, and I quote:
“Central to the ANC Roadmap, is the understanding that the ANC will only succeed in realising its strategic objectives when it confronts its subjective weaknesses and successfully transforms itself into a renewed, responsive, modernised, well-governed, well-resourced, ethical, caring and effective political formation.”
On this 112th anniversary, we commit the Veterans League to continue to join hands with the ANC to intensify our efforts to achieve a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous country.
The ANC Lives, the ANC Leads!
Snuki Zikalala-President of the ANCVL