Who would be prepared to make sacrifices today for the people? - Motlanthe asks hard questions at Rivonia Trial anniversary

Former president Kgalema Motlanthe. (Mduduzi Ndzingi, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe. (Mduduzi Ndzingi, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

Former state president Kgalema Motlanthe has called on his party, the ANC, and its alliance partners to use the 56th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial to reflect on their roles in society.

Motlanthe, a former ANC secretary general, delivered a keynote address at a gala dinner at Liliesleaf Farm on Thursday marking the anniversary of the trial.

READ: Motlanthe refuses to lead investigation into formation of small parties

The location was the site where 10 anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela and Goven Mbeki, plotted to overthrow the oppressive regime of the day. Most were nabbed following evidence found at Liliesleaf Farm.

Motlanthe said serious questions needed to considered, keeping in mind the "strength" and "inspiration" gained from the selfless acts of the Rivonia accused.

"Who among us would be prepared to make sacrifices today for the greater benefit of our people? What is it that we are prepared to do, not for selfish benefits but for the common good?

"In reality these questions are directed at whether we are true revolutionaries, whether the sanitary words that we use like 'cadres' [and] 'comrades' have true meaning or are merely some hollow concepts devoid of meaning," said the ANC veteran.

Legitimate heirs

Motlanthe said the anniversary was a perfect time for leaders to reflect on whether they were legitimate heirs of the generation which was sent to Robben Island.

"Today, we have a responsibility to take stock of our actions, postures, attitudes and behaviours that hold the generation of the Rivonia triallists and their peers as a mirror which we must reflect ourselves," he told those in attendance, which included several members of Cabinet, as well as past and present leaders from across the tripartite alliance.

Earlier, SACP's first deputy general-secretary Solly Mapaila praised Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, calling him a representative of the Rivonia triallists, over his fight against those blocking the battle against corruption and new reforms.

"Comrade Pravin, we are in solidarity with you, we are with you," said Mapaila as guests applauded in support of his stance.

While Motlanthe did not go into some of the current battles facing the country, he called on the ANC and its partners to heed lessons from the Rivonia Trial era and the party's former leaders.

"The ANC and alliance leaders at all levels must be prepared to take extraordinary steps for the betterment of our people, work not for yourselves, but for the improvement of our municipalities, communities and society as a whole," said Motlanthe.

He called on "excuses" to exclude young people to come to an end.

"Leaders must adopt young people and have mentoring programmes. The only way to train young people is to give them opportunities; excuses that they are not ready only serves to threaten our future," he said.

Motlanthe also gave a stern warning against those seeking to use government money when doing community work or to even reward their loved ones.

He warned that all projects the governing party wished to execute, had to be planned with "what next" in mind, saying failure to do so, means planning for defeat.

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