Unite, reclaim position of influence, Mantashe urges EC ANC

2012-05-01 12:26

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has called on his home province, the Eastern Cape, to unite and reclaim its position of national influence.

Divisions and factions in the crisis-ridden province had seen it become one which was approached only during times of contestation.

“Unity is sacrosanct for the Eastern Cape to reclaim its spot in national politics and it is your responsibility to reclaim our place, this is not tribalism,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe was speaking at the official centenary flame handover, from KwaZulu-Natal to the Eastern Cape, which was held at the East London City Hall today.

Referring to the divisions, mainly between pro-SACP and anti-communist factions, Mantashe said he had been shocked to see “two Eastern Capes” at the party’s last elective conference at Polokwane in 2007 .

“When you are divided it becomes easy to influence you, but not so easy to influence. You become known as the province of ballots,” he said to laughter and applause in the venue.

Later he said even the province’s leaders had admitted there were challenges, saying the flame tour would go a long way to unite the province.

While speaking about discipline, the former trade union boss made reference to expelled youth league leader Julius Malema, saying discipline, in the ANC, was already political and it did not make sense to call for a political solution.

“Discipline is not a hearing ... It’s about complying within a set framework. The moment you step outside that framework, you burn; get back in the right direction.”

This morning’s ceremony marked the start of the official ANC centenary celebrations in the Eastern Cape – a powerhouse in terms of numbers in the ANC.

In attendance were ANC provincial chairperson Phumulo Masualle, secretary Lubabalo Mabuyane, spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane, Premier Noxolo Kiviet, and KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Dr Zweli Mkhize who led the delegation that brought the flame.

Also there was Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, as well as various alliance leaders and ANC structures from other provinces.

ANC chaplain in the province Andile Mbete told guests about the spiritual significance of the flame, saying it represented spiritual renewal for all members.

The centenary flame, a symbol for renewal for the ANC as it celebrates 100 years of existence, was lit by party president Jacob Zuma in Bloemfontein in January.

It has since travelled to the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, and now the Eastern Cape as part of its nationwide tour.

It stays in each province for a month during which various events and rallies are held in the regions, culminating in a memorial lecture by Zuma.

In the Eastern Cape he will deliver a lecture on Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the fifth of the 12 former ANC presidents, at the University of Fort Hare on May 24, said provincial chairperson Masualle.

On Ka Seme, Mantashe said he had the most tumultuous presidency in the ANC because he had been elected at a time when the ANC rejected anything to do with the communist party – hence the removal of J.T. Gumede.

Mantashe said it was not Ka Seme’s fault because he was elected on “flawed ideological grounds”.

“Don’t purge progressive politics in the movement ... The moment you do that you lead to stagnation. Progressive politics leads to growth,” he said.

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