We, delegates to the 1st Provincial Conference of the Veterans League in the Western Cape, representing 94 delegates (83%) met at the Provincial Conference on the 12-13 July 2023 held at Shalimar Gardens, Athlone.
We convened ourselves as members of the Veterans League in this province, celebrating the fact that we have successfully completed the process of rebuilding the Veterans League in the Western Cape, literary a process we started from scratch.
We are fully aware of the responsibility on our shoulders as we carve a path of a veterans structure that will be a guiding light in the process of building and renewing not just the Veterans League but the entire ANC in the province.
We state here confidently that the ANC is the only organisation in South Africa that is committed to the ideals of the Freedom Charter whose declaration that South Africa belongs to all and a commitment to peace and justice in the world serves as a loadstar to all of us.
In this regard, as this conference, we cannot remain silent when the Palestinian people have not only been robbed of their land and peace, but continue to be brutalised under the jackboot of an Israeli government that is not different to what the Apartheid regime did to the Black people in South Africa. We thus condemn the murder and harassment of the Palestinian people and call on the world to find its voice in the same way it finds on other matters.
We equally join many South Africans who have called on Orlando Pirates and SAFA to reconsider its decision to play football with an Israeli soccer club.
We say so, conscious of the fact that, on 22nd June 2023, Israeli forces murdered the Palestinian soccer player Omar Oatin while he was part of defending himself from the settler-mob in Turmus Ayya. No match can be played whilst the blood of Omar Oatin has not even dried up. We therefore state that there can be no entertainment for Apartheid Israel that wreaks this kind of havoc on Palestinians daily.
The delegates of the Veterans League in this conference discussed a number of issues. We were graced by the presentations of Comrades Mac Maharaj, Wally Serote and Frank Chikane. Their presentations dealt with the following topics – coalitions and service delivery, renewal and policy. We also engaged on constitutional amendments to the Veterans League constitution. Conference at plenary engaged in a lively but robust and engaging discussion on all these topics.
This conference made the following observations on these papers:
On policy, discussions centred on the capacity of municipalities and ability to service our people. Conference recognised that municipalities were the main centre of interface and service delivery to our people. At the centre of all this is capacity and role of our councillors. Conference called on the ANC to empower our councillors and take them to various training in order for them to be able to carry out their responsibilities.
Conference also voiced its concern on the issue of load shedding. It recognised that corruption at Eskom had contributed to the challenges of load shedding. It also recognised that whereas the matter of a just transition is important, it must not be at the expense of capacity to provide electricity to the people as well as create jobs and fight the scourge of unemployment.
On the issue of coalitions, conference noted that democracies throughout the world were facing troubles. Ours will not be an exception. There is a regrouping of right wing groups emerging now. This is something we must watch and fight as members of the ANC. Conference recognised that since 2000 when there were 29 coalitions, by 2021 there were now 80 coalitions. This is a worrying trend that shows that our revolution is under threat. In particular, unstable coalitions seriously impact on service delivery.
Coalitions also affect stability of good and professional public service. Conference called on the NEC to develop legislation at the earliest possibility to attend to the issue of ensuring that public servants are insulated from all the political upheavals taking place in municipalities. Stability of public service, especially at local government level shall and will contribute immensely to the aspect of service delivery. Conference acknowledged that the Collective Executive System, especially under the conditions of coalitions functions better than the executive mayoral systems.
There must also be a threshold introduced for any party to be in the coalition and that the party that won the largest votes must lead the coalition. Also, the formula to allocate PR seats must be reviewed as it is profoundly undemocratic as it punishes the party that won more wards. It was emphasised that coalitions must not be seen as replacing the revolutionary Alliance.
On the input by comrade Wally Serote which dealt with renewal, conference emphasised the urgency of renewal as of utmost urgency. It was emphasised that we must be hopeful and be proud of what the NTT of the Veterans League has done in its short life. It was able to take strong decisions, especially that – the ANC is serious about renewal and that we must send a message to the membership that the ANC is serious about renewal. Conference stressed the importance that the ANC can now draw a red line now – the majority of the provinces are in place. We recognise that there is a counter revolution emerging in the country. We must understand its objective. If we take one aspect, it’s clear that almost all State Owned Entities (SOEs) have but collapsed. One of its objective is to get the people to be disgruntled and demoralised about the ANC, thus weaken its stature in in the eyes of the people of South Africa.
Conference also discussed the aspect of the use of money within the ANC electoral processes. Conference condemned this practice and called on the incoming PEC to further discuss this issue.
The ANC is committed to unity, renewal and the commitment to meeting people’s interest remains the best vehicle to bring about fundamental social-economic needs and a better life for all.
In this regard, we pledge and commit ourselves to contribute in ensuring that the ANC in the Western Cape achieves its objective of uniting the province, be an effective opposition and reverse the gains of the DA. We remain confident that the declared Moonshot pact by the DA is not just a pipe dream but a dream doomed to be stillborn. The ANC, born of the people and an organisation of the people representing the will of the people of South Africa cannot be defeated by those intent to roll back people’s gains. Those beating the drums of the doomed Moonshot pact will surely be disappointed as we March yet to another government led by the ANC in 2024.
We join the call of our President and the NEC as we commit ourselves to fight against any forms of corruption and abuse of people’s resources.
We congratulate all branches of the Veterans League in the Western Cape for their successful launch of branches in such a short period of time. As we gather here today, we can boast of branches in the Dullah Omar region, Boland, and the Western Coast. The new leadership shall ensure that other regions, under unique circumstances facing the Veterans League as directed by its constitution, shall be launched. We salute all comrades in the Veterans League for the job well done.
We salute the following comrades – Alfred Willie and Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea who in their 90 years of life, having been invited to this conference attended and sat throughout the conference participating in all matters relating to conference. We also salute comrade Nonkonzo Kutta who also was the special guest of conference. Unfortunately, due to age and weather, Comrades Rachmat Jaffer, and Amy Thornton could not make it to this conference due to the inclement weather and advanced age. These are the stalwarts of our movement that we as veterans salute and recognise as those who remain the sweet spring of wisdom and force of example we drink from. We would also like to once again congratulate Mme Mildred Ramakaba-Lesiea for celebrating her 90th birthday on the 28th of January 2023.
In few days we shall be celebrating the birthday of our President and founder of the free and democratic South Africa, Nelson Mandela. As this conference, we wave our Black, Green and Gold flag in salute of this great hero of our people. We shall emulate his example of service and truthfulness under even the most difficult conditions.
We would like to honour all those who departed from this world in this province. We wish those of our veterans who may not be feeling well because of their age all the good health and strength. We do so, remembering that these stalwarts of our movement never had time to rest and nurse their wounds of struggle.
We would like to convey our message to the UDF, who many of us gathered here today played our part as we celebrate 40 years of its existence. This celebration must be claimed by us and must belong to us.
This conference conveys its condolences to the following comrades who have departed this year – Alpheus Ndude and Lina Gonya. May their memory forever remind us of the road we have travelled and what still needs to be done by the Veterans League in the Western Cape.
We are indeed proud that we have managed to reach this milestone and now is the time to build the Veterans League and the ANC.