Oliver Tambo was above everyone, even Mandela - Mantashe

2016-10-27 21:05
Members of the Tambo family in Wattville and President Jacob Zuma laid a wreath at the former ANC President's gravesite. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

Members of the Tambo family in Wattville and President Jacob Zuma laid a wreath at the former ANC President's gravesite. (Tshidi Madia, News24)

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Cape Town - ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says Oliver Tambo was a leader who was head and shoulders above everyone in the movement, including former President Nelson Mandela.

Mantashe gave an Oliver Tambo Memorial Lecture at Abedare Primary School in Delft in Cape Town on Thursday to the party's provincial leadership, and focused on Tambo's leadership during the ANC's exile.

"At a time when our movement was going through a difficult period, too many of us here, because of our age, or laziness to follow the history of our movement, this appears to be the worst crisis ever confronting us.

"This is not the first, nor is it the last crisis to face our movement."

Mantashe said Tambo's leadership qualities helped him lead the ANC for more than three decades and manage crisis points in the mid-1980s.

"During this experience in exile, he led the ANC. He was just head and shoulders above all.

"Because of the effect of 'recency', there is a tendency to think the ANC started with Nelson Mandela.

"Without perspective, that makes us believe that. That's why everybody tries to appropriate the leadership of Mandela.


"I'll make a submission to you that Oliver Tambo was head and shoulders above all the leaders of the ANC.

"I can be disciplined for [saying] that if you like."

Mantashe had stern words for both the Western Cape and national leadership of the ANC, saying Tambo's example forced them to ask questions of the party.

"It is our responsibility to learn and emulate him as the lodestar he was in the national democratic revolution.

"At the end of this lecture we must all ask ourselves the question 'What have we learnt from the character and life of Oliver Tambo?'.

"Can we elevate ourselves above the factions?" he asked adding that factionalism had imprisoned members of the party.

"What kind of an organisation have we become? When people say the ANC is not the same, how do we react?

"What is so wrong that people are beginning to question the ANC of Oliver Tambo?"

Call for resignations

He said ANC leaders were too quick to "stab each other in the back with a sword".

He also said the various calls for the party's "top six" to resign and reverse calls for Jackson Mthembu to step down weren't helping the movement.

"Oliver Tambo always gave constructive response to criticism and had the ability to seek solutions through constructive engagements.

"Tambo knew it was a process, not an event."

The ANC needed to go back to representing the interests of the majority, he said.

"That is why [we] declined in the elections.

"We stood up, not because the results were seen as a threat of the ANC losing power, but it was a threat of a liberation movement not representing the interests of the majority of the people."

Second chance for Western Cape ANC?

Mantashe was accompanied by Western Cape provincial secretary Faiez Jacobz, provincial chief whip Xolani Sotashe and regional chaplain Templeton Mbekwa.

Mbekwa gave a short sermon on unity and the need for the party to unite at the start of the meeting.

"No army can defeat you if you are united," Mbekwa lectured the hall.

"A second chance is coming for the ANC in the province.

"But God wants the ANC in the Western Cape to be humble."

The DA retained the vast majority of wards in the Western Cape in the 2016 local government elections, attaining 63% of the votes provincially.

Read more on:    anc  |  oliver tambo  |  gwede mantashe

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