Johannesburg - Anti-apartheid activist and ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada believes the ruling party owes much of its success to the spirit and sacrifices of many of its volunteers.
Speaking alongside former president Kgalema Motlanthe at a workshop on ethics and leadership to the party's candidates for the upcoming local government elections in Orange Farm, south of Joahnnesburg, Kathrada emphasised the importance of a spirit of volunteerism.
"The ruling party today [is where it is] not because it fell from heaven, it was worked for, it was sacrificed for and that is where the spirit of volunteerism came in.
"The success of the ANC is largely due to the spirit of the volunteers, the sacrifice of the volunteers."
Examples of this were the Defiance Campaign, the first large-scale, multi-racial political mobilisation against apartheid laws in 1952 and the Congress of the People campaign held in Kliptown, Johannesburg in 1955, where the Freedom Charter was ultimately drafted.
"It was all organized, not by paid volunteers, but volunteers who sacrificed their time and their energy for the cause," Kathrada said.
The responsibility was now on the shoulders of the youth, who were reaping the rewards of the freedom that had been fought for, Kathrada said.
"The ANC brought us freedom. It led the people of South Africa to freedom. Freedom did not fall from heaven, freedom was fought for, freedom was sacrificed for.
"With freedom comes responsibility and that responsibility falls on the shoulders of young people because they are the majority of the people in this country. They are the ones who are benefitting most from the freedom, so the responsibility is to themselves, to their parents and to the countr."
Kathrada said hoped the youth would carry out the duties that the people of South Africa expected of them.
"The spirit of volunteerism is still there. I have not yet come across [any of] today's volunteers that have come and said 'I want money'."
Motlanthe echoed Kathrada's words. "All members of the ANC have got to be humble, accountable [and] selfless," he told the election candidates.
"The spirit of volunteerism means that you sacrifice what you value most in order to contribute to the upliftment of fellow citizens and fellow South Africans."
Motlanthe said this expectation was based on an understanding that all members of the ANC should at all times display integrity and humility.
Members should also understand that they were representing a "glorious" movement which was, in turn, representing the aspirations of its people.