Full version: Why the ANC kicked us out – Floyd Shivambu

2012-03-31 12:19

When the leadership of the ANC Youth League was preferred with charges by the ANC National Officials in August 2011, we consciously chose not to engage media on the processes of the ANC National Disciplinary Committee, because the Constitution of the ANC only provides for the outcomes of the NDC to be publicly communicated.

The ANC NDC however chose to ignore this important provision of the ANC Constitution and recurrently fed media with preliminary rulings of applications made in the process of the NDC.

In most instances, the media communications which the NDC and its members would make on and off record were misleading, meant at mobilising society and particularly members of the ANC against the leadership collective of the ANC Youth League.

In one occasion, the NDC misled the public and said that our representatives have argued that the Constitution of the ANC is unconstitutional, something we never said nor insinuated.

We were however not surprised that a smear campaign would be run in the media because we had questioned the objectivity and fairness of members of the disciplinary committee, most of whom were conflicted.

The question we should now clarify openly is where did it all begin?

Let’s begin: The African National Congress Youth League held its 24th National Congress between the 16th and 20th of June 2011 in Gallagher Convention Centre under the theme ‘Youth Action for Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime’.

Congress took comprehensive resolutions on various aspects relating to what the youth of the ANC said should be the character and direction of the ANC and entire National Liberation Movement in the current phase of the struggle for total political, economic and social emancipation of the black majority and Africans in particular with the aim of creating a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa free of exploitation and oppression.

Amongst the many resolutions taken by the 24th National Congress, were resolutions under International Relations, which read as follows:

1. “That the South African international standing has diminished in recent times as signalled by the lack of consultation with South Africa as it relates to key developments on the continent including the events which are related to the Ivory Coast and Libya.”

2. “Develop practical programmes to assist liberation and progressive movements in Southern Africa, who are not in power to win elections, particularly in Botswana and Swaziland.”

It should be noted that these resolutions were taken in the 24th National Congress, which was attended by more than 5 000 voting delegates, fraternal organisations, international guests and notably, deployees of the ANC National Executive Committee, who were tasked with overseeing the proceedings of Congress.

These resolutions were not circulated to members of the public until the 1st meeting of the 24th National Congress National Executive Committee, which as per organisational tradition, should process and approve Congress resolutions as a true reflection of what Congress resolved.

At the end of the National Executive Committee, the ANC Youth League released a statement on the 31st of July 2011, which amongst other things read as follows:

“On the international front, the ANC Youth League NEC expressed concern about the decline of regional and continental formations, SADC, and the African Union, particularly since the departure of President Thabo Mbeki in the space of African leadership.

“The ANC YL is of the view that there is a vacuum on the ideological and political leadership of Africa and the sub-regions, and this is reflected by how the issues of Libya and Ivory Coast were mishandled.

“The ANC Youth League will soon convene progressive youth formations across SADC and ultimately Africa to re-assert the need for Africa’s independence, sovereignty, and economic freedom.

The ANC Youth League will also establish a Botswana Command Team which will work towards uniting all oppositional forces in Botswana to oppose the puppet regime of Botswana led by the Botswana Democratic Party.

The BDP led Botswana is a foot stool of imperialism, a security threat to Africa and always under constant puppetry of the United States.”

On the 1st of August 2011, the ANC Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu released a statement, which amongst other things said, “The African National Congress ANC would like to totally reject and publicly rebuke the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) on its extremely thoughtless and embarrassing pronouncements on “regime change” in Botswana and the so called, “veering off the African agenda by the African Union (AU) together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC)”.

The statement by the ANC YL that it will establish a “Botswana Command Team which will work towards uniting all opposition forces in Botswana to oppose the puppet regime of Botswana led by the Botswana Democratic Party, … and that BDP led Botswana is a foot stool of imperialism, a security threat to Africa and always under constant puppetry of the United States”, is a total deviation and an affront to the ANC policies.

“We encourage the new leadership of the ANC YL to familiarise themselves with the facts relating to these two countries, especially the relevant UN resolutions, AU decisions, as well as government information that has been put at their disposal.”

What is profound about this response from the ANC is that it acknowledges that the statements on Botswana were statements of the ANC YOUTH LEAGUE, and not statements of individual members of the ANC.

Secondly, the ANC acknowledges that the statement of the ANC YOUTH LEAGUE could be misinformed because of the ANC YOUTH LEAGUE’s lack of knowledge of “relevant UN resolutions, AU decisions, as well as government information that has been put as their disposal”.

Subsequent to this statement of the ANC, ANC Spokesperson, Cde Jackson Mthembu, did not approach the ANC Youth League with all the relevant information and resolutions, he instead did an interview wherein he said to SABC television news that “the ANC cannot harbour people who speak about Botswana the way the ANC Youth League did in South Africa”.

In response, the ANC Youth League submitted the 24th National Congress report to ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on the 2nd of August and asked for a meeting with the officials of the ANC to provide a detailed report of Congress.

The ANC SG accepted the report and made a commitment that the officials of the ANC will meet with the newly elected officials of the ANC Youth League on the 7th of August 2011.

Due to these articulations of ANC Spokesperson and a public misunderstanding that the ANC Youth League is calling for a regime change in Botswana, the ANC Youth League released a statement on the 2nd of August 2011, which amongst other things read as follows: “The ANC Youth League emphatically disagrees with the ANC Spokesperson’s approach on the Botswana question and is very disappointed with the manner in which Cde Jackson Mthembu handled the matter.

“In true ANC tradition, internal discussions and consultations should be exhausted before any public condemnation is made for whatsoever reason. In true principle of organisational democracy, which guides the ANC and its relationship to the ANC Youth League, public condemnation just does not happen, particularly on political issues that require discussions.

“The ANC Youth League does not believe that our position on Botswana and the approach is inconsistent with ANC policy outlook, and the public condemnation by ANC Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu does not help to clarify this position.

“<>

face="verdana">If there is anything inconsistent with ANC Policy directives, it is leaders of the ANC who associated with imperialist controlled political parties like MDC in Zimbabwe and BDP in Botswana.

“The ANC Youth League is concerned that strange ideological trends and political relations are being established for convenience, and this has potential to undermine the integrity of the ANC as a National Liberation Movement.”

In response to this statement, the ANC released a statement on the 3rd of August 2011 undersigned by the ANC Secretary General, which acknowledged that the ANC YL has submitted a Congress report, and in various interviews publicly re-affirmed the meeting which was to take place on the 8th of August 2011.

Amongst others things, the 3rd August 2011 statement said, “The fact that the ANCYL decided to take on the ANC publicly, does not only warrant that this be an item on the agenda on Monday, but constitutes a serious transgression that the ANC itself must discuss and decide on.”

On Monday, the 8th of August 2011, the meeting which the ANC had publicly communicated was supposed to take place at the ANC Head Office, Chief Albert Luthuli House.

It came to the attention of the ANC Youth League that the meeting between ANC YL and ANC officials might be postponed through a media enquiry.

Subsequent to the media enquiry, the SG of the ANC informed the officials of the ANC Youth League that the meeting had been postponed because officials of the ANC felt that some issues should be handled differently.

The officials of the ANC YL asked the SG of the ANC for an opportunity to persuade the officials of the ANC due to the fact that there were already public disagreements on policy issues, which if left not clarified could cause confusion amongst members and supporters of the ANC.

The SG consented to the officials request and allowed officials of the ANC YL to enter the boardroom where the ANC officials held a meeting.

The re-action of ANC President upon arrival of ANC YL officials to the meeting suggested that officials of the ANCYL were not welcomed in the meeting.

ANC YL President Julius Malema apologised for the misunderstanding and unequivocally said that the officials of the ANC YL are willing to leave as soon as the leadership gives such an instruction.

The Deputy President of the ANC then granted the ANC YL officials an opportunity to leave, which they did without any form of resistance or undermining of the leadership of the ANC.

Upon arrival on the ANC Head Office 7th floor, where ANC Youth League Head Offices are, the officials of the ANC YL instructed the Secretary General to write a letter to ANC SG to once again apologise for the misunderstanding.

The SG of the ANC submitted a letter to the SG of the ANC to express displeasure on the ANC YL officials’ request to persuade officials of the ANC for a meeting.

In the letter dated 9th August 2011, ANC Youth League SG sent a letter to ANC SG, which said: “We acknowledge receipt of the letter you sent on behalf of ANC officials. As officials of the ANC YL, we sincerely apologise for coming into the meeting of the ANC officials without your agreement.

“We had a strong feeling and conviction that the issues that were supposed to be discussed on the scheduled meeting should be urgently discussed due to the public disagreements that had occurred.

“We are pleased that after the explanation of the ANC President, we understood why the meeting could not continue. We never meant to cause displeasure to ANC officials, and we once again, like we did in the meeting, unreservedly apologise for coming to the meeting without your approval.”

Subsequent to these interactions with the leadership of the ANC, there were lots of media speculations that the leadership of the ANC will prefer charges on the leadership of the ANC Youth League.

No clarity was given from the leadership of the ANC on whether there will be charges brought against the leadership of the ANC Youth League or not.

Noting the poisoned environment and no communication from the leadership of the ANC, the ANC YL leadership issued a statement on Saturday, the 13th of August 2011, to withdraw the NEC statement on Botswana and once again implore for an engagement with the leadership of the ANC.

The statement amongst other things read as follows: “The ANC Youth League apologies on and withdraws the statement of the 1st National Executive Committee, which committed to establishment of a Botswana Command Team.

We withdraw the statement and apologise because we note that the leadership of the ANC took serious exception on the statement and classified that statement as transgression of ANC Constitution and policies.

“The ANC Youth League will nevertheless discuss internally the deeper political and ideological considerations that made us make these statements with the view and intention of establishing common ground and agreement with the leadership of the ANC.

The ANC Youth League has never and will never define itself outside the policy confines and directives of the ANC, and will whenever expected be available to listen to political and organisational guidance from the leadership.

As the newly elected leadership of the ANC Youth League, we are looking forward to engaging with the leadership of the ANC to thoroughly comprehend the rules of engagement and how we take up issues, particularly on the public discourse.”

After this public withdrawal of the statement and public apology, the ANC preferred charges against the leadership of the ANC Youth League on the basis of the statements which the ANC acknowledged are statements of the ANC Youth League.

The ANC Officials chose to isolate individuals from the resolutions of the ANC Youth League and charge them as members of the ANC.

This is not only un-organisational, it violates an important clause in the Constitution of the ANC, which forbids charges and disciplinary action being used as a tool to suppress political dissent and means to suppress debates.

The inclusion of the additional charges was evidently widening of the net with the intention to secure conviction in case some of the charges brought do not hold water.

It is also evidenced by the fact that issues which the ANC had politically engaged and issued reprimand on were now resurrected as acts of misconduct which should be subjected to a disciplinary process.

All the additional charges were subsequently withdrawn and some declared null and void through acquittal in the NDC and Appeals Committee process.

As things stand, the leadership of the ANC Youth League stands convicted of Congress resolutions which were taken by the collective in the presence of ANC leaders.

At no stage did the ANC indicate which ANC policy was violated, because when we asked for that, a SADC document was produced as the policy we have violated.

The Constitution of the ANC states that disciplinary action can only be brought against members who have violated ANC Constitution and policies.

The charges of expulsion and suspensions happen because of the statements we made on Botswana, and our defence throughout the political trial was that those are not individuals’ statements, but ANC YL statements derived from the 24th National Congress.

We stand guilty for articulating Congress resolutions. We do not know which sins have we committed, but we have our own political suspicions.

The fact the ANC Youth League was able to politically and ideologically persuade the ANC National General Council in December 2010 to establish greater consensus on Nationalisation of Mines and other strategic sectors of the economy is against attempts by the ANC leadership is one of the reasons why we are being purged.

The fact that the ANC YL enjoys massive poli

tical support amongst South Africa’s poor and downtrodden masses, on the face of rejection of the masses though declining electoral support and mass protests against the leadership is a point of concern.

The fact that we have publicly and internally observed the directionlessness of government on domestic and international policy options since 2009 could be the reason why we are being persecuted.

The fact that we have vowed to never support those who stand accused of corruption, money laundering and fraud for any public office could be the basis.

Whatever is the reason, what we have raised politically and ideologically as the ANC Youth League holds water, and detractors know that if a proper platform is provided in the ANC to engage on these issues, the views of the ANC Youth League will triumph.

Perhaps the Chinese proverb that “the first one to strike a blow admits defeat in an debate” is true.

Because we are revolutionaries who utilise proper and correct tools of analysis to analyse society and as guide to action, we had predicted that with the kind of success and revolutionary spirit that defined our 24th National Congress in June 2011, we were heading straight to the situation we are currently in.

When he closed the 24th National Congress in June 2011, long before charges were preferred, newly elected President of the ANC Youth League said, “by the way things are turning up, me and you Floyd are not safe in the ANC”, and further said, “We need the ANC to declare in December 2012 that we are in an economic struggle – that is the terrain in which we find ourselves. Once that declaration has been made by the ANC, everybody will work towards the economic emancipation”.

This is our commitment and we will fight with everything at our disposal to realise economic freedom in our lifetime.

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