There is a place for minorities in the ANC

2008-08-22 00:00

We read with interest in the media that some of our comrades feel marginalised. This marginalisation is apparently strongly felt in the Indian community, who feel that the ANC is ignoring them and disregards their contribution towards the struggle to emancipate South Africa.

Some of these comments published in the media recently are attributed to various individuals. We have to point out that the ANC in this province, in particular, has had very strong ties with these leaders and stalwarts such as our late comrades I. C. Meer, George Sewpersadh, M. D. Naidoo, Rabie Bagwandeen and others. All of them were rooted in leadership of community as part of our struggle. As a younger generation, we wish to continue to listen and learn from the wisdom of the remaining stalwarts who come from the rich history and culture of our popular movement.

In the past few years, weaknesses have emerged in the way that the ANC conducts its internal business, resulting in a feeling of marginalisation among many comrades from different communities. Excessive attention paid to the issue of governance resulted in less focus on traditional mass mobilisation. These are some of the weaknesses that the Polokwane conference sought to correct.

There have been calls for the revival of the Natal Indian Congress as a means to address the perceived marginalisation. I would like to advise against this thinking. Instead, as Chairperson of the ANC, and therefore one of the Alliance Leadership Collective, I invite those who have concerns and contributions that could improve the situation to come forward and discuss them with the leaders of our movement. We must honestly engage and seek solutions together as members of the ANC.

The Natal Indian Congress, which was the first to be founded among the components of the congress movement in this country, remains a respected member of the anti-apartheid forces in our history. In a letter written by Dr Yusuf Dadoo to Professor D. D. T. Jabavu, the president-general of the ANC, on July 4, 1940, he stated: “It is time for African, Indian, coloured and Malay to form one solid powerful organisation.”

This was achieved when our leaders — Dr Monty Naicker, Dr Yusuf Dadoo and Dr A. B. Xuma — signed the Three Doctors’ Pact in 1947, cementing the unity of all oppressed people and creating a common platform for fighting apartheid. When the ANC was unbanned, it became a home for all and the matter of the existence of the Natal Indian Congress was laid to rest.

We agree with the former commander of Umkhonto we Sizwe and veteran of our struggle, comrade Billy Nair, who said that the solution is the creation of “an activist in every house”. Matters of under-representation must be addressed in an effort to demonstrate commitment to our objective of non-racialism. We need to focus all our energies to serve our communities, particularly the poor and underprivileged. All activists must do mass work and locate themselves where our people are — in sports, cultural, religious and other social forums.

We reiterate that the ANC remains a home for all progressive forces and activists, capable of adequately representing the aspirations of the minority communities, including those in the white and coloured communities, who by virtue of their views, beliefs and support of the vision of the Freedom Charter are part of the majority of this country. It was on this basis that members of the former New Nationalist Party were similarly welcomed into the ANC as members in their own right, when their party was disbanded.

• Dr Zweli Mkhize is the provincial chairperson of the ANC.

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