Time to unite

2009-03-30 00:00

It was interesting to read Kamal Singh’s vituperative attack on the ANC in The Witness dated March 15, under the headline “Past its sell-by date”. Singh makes profound allegations against the ANC, but unfortunately does nothing to back his allegations with any shred of evidence.

Let us help Singh out of this rut, for it is clear that he had joined the ANC without fully understanding what it is and what it stood for. The ANC has never been just any other movement but is a liberation movement. Its rallying cause as the liberation movement is the struggle and liberation of the masses. The ANC’s key objective is the creation of a united, nonracial, nonsexist, prosperous and democratic society. This means the liberation of Africans in particular and all the black people in general from political and economic bondage. More importantly, it also means liberating some of our white compatriots from their false sense of superiority.

It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor. The struggle to achieve this objective is called the national democratic revolution. The ANC is still committed as ever to these historic tasks, and its future remains firmly embedded in the Freedom Charter. Indeed, with the ascension of the ANC government to power, the struggle to build the kind of society envisaged in the Freedom Charter has proceeded apace.

If Singh were guided by facts as opposed to emotions, he would not have missed the more than 2 million houses that government has built to date. There are over 10 million people that now enjoy access to clean water and electricity, while no one can be refused access to a hospital or a school because they have no money to pay. Women are more emancipated then they were in the past, while poverty levels have been drastically reduced. Compared with the pre-1994 dispensation, areSouth Africans been united behind a common identity as never before.

After 15 years of democracy there can be no denying that conditions and opportunities are better than they used to be. South Africa is better, more caring and less divided than the pre-1994 era. When we embarked on the struggle to build a new society we were alive to the reality that the struggle for the full attainment of the aspirations enshrined to the Freedom Charter would be long and arduous. To a certain extent, some of the policies which were adopted in the Charter when put into practice yielded unintended consequences.

Take for instance our policy of providing free health care. This policy was undermined by, among other things, not enough infrastructure, and human and financial resource and by constraints which were the realities that confronted the movement in government. To suggest that the ANC has done nothing to live up to the ideals of the Freedom Charter is to be economic with the truth.

Clearly, Singh’s absence from the country has left him out of touch with this reality. If Singh were candid enough, he would agree that he has returned to a better South Africa than he left. While in the ANC we welcome perspectives that enrich our understanding of the changes that have taken place, we would appreciate them more if they were based on informed positions.

The ANC has spent a great deal of time and effort looking at the impact that the ascension to power has had on the movement and has been critical of a number of things. Since assuming political power, the ANC has put in place a number of policies as part of efforts at redressing the damage that was done by apartheid. The fact that the author of this article is today a successful businessman is because of these policies which have created an environment for business to thrive. The ANC has of its own volition identified tendencies that slow our march to the full attainment of the Freedom Charter. But it is incorrect to generalise that these tendencies are widespread and, by extension, to insinuate that every cadre of our movement is lazy and corrupt.

The ANC is still the popular movement of the people. It remains the beacon of hope for our masses who still live in poverty and are victims of underdevelopment. There is a need for all of our cadres, including comrade Singh, not to fall to the temptation of posturing and regurgitating unsubstantiated positions, presenting them as the absolute truth. Now, more than ever, is the time for all cadres of our movement, including former cadres who might have lost touch with reality, to unite behind our movement’s common cause of liberating all of our people.

After the ANC achieved a strategic victory in 1994, the enemy did not take this lying down. Now and again it carries out counter-offensive attacks against us using counter revolutionary networks it has built over decades. We must remain vigilant.

The ANC may not be a perfect organisation but it is the best organisation in the country. Comrades like Singh are always welcome to be self-critical about the work and performance of their movement — the ANC. In doing so we must be careful not to become unpaid agents selling the sound-byte of doom and gloom about our movement.

To the battle, comrade Singh!

• Michael Mabuyakhulu is the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs. He writes in his personal capacity.

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