Factional fighting in the governing ANC has played a huge role in hindering South Africa from achieving the freedom which the late struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu fought and died for.
SA Communist Party (SACP) national spokesperson Alex Mashilo said this on Tuesday during the 42nd anniversary of the death of struggle icon Mahlangu in Mamelodi, Pretoria.
Mashilo called for unity within the ANC, not only for the freedom Mahlangu died for to come to fruition, but also to ensure that the party “prevails in the upcoming elections”.
He told those gathered that a divided ANC would not “lead this society to the freedom that Comrade Solomon Mahlangu stood for”.
“What we achieved in 1994 was a democratic breakthrough towards that freedom. We have made important achievements, but we are not there yet,” he said. “We are really asking the ANC to please be united. Your unity as the ANC, as we speak about it as the alliance, is not an external unity, it is an internal unity.
“We know that without the unity of the ANC, this alliance will not be strong as it should be.”
Mashilo said there was a need for a revolutionary programme which should replace the old order with a new one. He said while the majority of South Africans were still living in poverty “a few people [in power] are living happy” having enriched themselves through corruption.
He said for more than 11 million jobless people in the country “that is not a condition of freedom” Mahlangu fought for.
Mahlangu, a freedom fighter, struggle activist and operative of the ANC militant wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, was charged with two counts of murder as well as a number of other charges under the Terrorism Act, and was subsequently hanged at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre in 1979.
He was 22 and the youngest prisoner to be hanged by the apartheid regime.
Mashilo said: “That unity of the ANC cannot just be the unity of words. It must be unity based on a revolutionary programme. A programme which after its implementation, things will not be the same again. A revolution is about replacing the old order of society with a new one.
“In this new order of society, in this land we shall all share in the wealth of the nation. Today only a few individuals are happy, and the majority of our people are dying of hunger, unemployment and inequality.
“Comrade Solomon did not fight for comrades to ascend to power only to turn the programme of the masses into their self-enrichment through corruption.”
Mashilo appealed to the ANC to “lead us in this alliance in eliminating this problem of corruption”, adding that those “comrades who are affected by allegations of corruption before the courts of law must respect the decision of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to step aside within 30 days”.
Mashilo said the step aside resolution – an ANC NEC resolution that leaders who are criminally charged should vacate their positions within 30 days, starting from the day the resolution was adopted - should be implemented “wholeheartedly”.
“We would not like to see the ANC become one of those liberation organisations that disintegrate after ascending to power,” he said.
Following an ANC NEC meeting last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the party’s highest decision-making body between congresses had resolved that the “step aside rule” must be implemented.