The chattering classes and the soul of the ANC

2012-05-05 12:38

The late struggle stalwart and minister Steve Tshwete once decried the habit of some countrymen to indulge in ­mundane activities instead of observing ­national holidays.

Whereas some people deem such days too politically charged, the importance of ­observing them is the struggle of memory against forgetting.

With this in mind, I joined the masses who went to the Union Buildings on April 27. I chose to experience the day as an ordinary member of the public and I relished the ­opportunity to rub shoulders with ­ordinary people.

I discovered that our people harbour great hope for a better future. They recognise how their present circumstances, no matter how arduous, are a giant leap from the ­pre-democracy era.

They do not perceive the future as bleak. This is in contrast to the ­manner in which the chattering classes have monopolised the public space to paint a ­picture of a country on a downward spiral.

It is a fact that more people have access to clean drinking water than before 1994, and that this government has built more than two million houses for the poor. Primary healthcare is available to all citizens and so is education.

But this should not distract us from­ ­the intractable challenges that remain, such as unemployment, crime and poverty.

The ANC is first to acknowledge that its successes should not lull it into complacency.

The crisis facing the government is one of expectation, not delivery. The ANC, since 1994, has promised so much and delivered a lot.

The masses of our people trust that the ANC will continue to deliver on its promises. The overwhelming majority the ANC enjoys at every election cannot be ascribed to the blind loyalty and or stupidity of ordinary ­people.

Few political organisations in the world have survived to a centenary. This did not happen by luck. This great movement has been blessed by having the best minds in their leadership ­collective.

The ANC, in its ­wisdom, grooms the next layer of leadership who will ensure the national democratic ­revolution is ­properly nurtured.

Opposition parties are deluded if they think that in 2019 they will be able to wrestle state power from the ANC.

Democracy thrives within the ANC, ­something the media diagnoses as a ­“succession battle”. The ANC is perhaps the only political ­organisation to be frank about the ­challenges it faces.

Among the documents released by Luthuli House in preparation for the June policy ­conference is one on organisational renewal.

The members will, away from the bluster of the headlines, be afforded an opportunity to chart a different course for the ­organisation.

The policies will be codified in December in Mangaung. Policy-making is a heavily ­contested but collective exercise.

The chattering classes, the major ­beneficiaries of this country’s trans­formation, surprisingly moan the loudest.
You will not find those people on the lawns of the Union Building on Freedom Day.

Some are not even members of any branch of a political party, a ward committee or a ­community policy forum.

The chattering classes should perhaps ­desist from grandstanding and believing in their own propaganda; they, too, should ­participate in the process of building a ­nation.

But what do those who went to the Union Buildings know that made them appreciate such a historical day?

They know that barely 20 years ago they would never have set foot on the lawns of the Union Buildings.

They know that April 27 is a day on which hope was born in this country. On that day, they had a voice. On that day, their humanity was affirmed.

They knew that this government will ­continue to prove its detractors wrong. The ANC Youth League, as an important body of opinion within the overall structure of the ANC, will continue to assert and retain its relevance to future generations.

The youth league has already lived up to that ideal by galvanising young people to vote for the ANC in previous elections.

Observers and the media agreed that the 2009 campaign energised the youth.

Through its Economic Freedom in our ­Lifetime programme, the youth league ­acknowledged that true liberation becomes entrenched when all our people enjoy equal opportunities.

The issue that the chattering classes and all of us should focus on is the creation of sustainable jobs for the many hopefuls who commemorated Freedom Day.

On April 27 2019 I am certain they will remember again that the ANC remains the true leader of the national liberation project in South Africa, which can never be ­denounced through a letter to the editor or a lecture at some community hall.

» Mabe is treasurer-general of the ANC Youth League. He writes in his personal capacity

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