The ANC appreciates the fact that the people of the Eastern Cape decided to honour this hero of our struggle by naming this municipality in his memory. It is indeed a singular honour today to deliver a lecture in the nam of the ANC, the organisation he served for many decades, braving police harassment, detention until he went exile. Through your programmes and the service you, as elected representatives and community leaders have a responsibility to uphold the flag of our fallen heroes who were the midwives of our freedom and democracy
Comrade Alfred Baphethuxolo Nzo was born on the 19 June 1925 in Benoni, Transvaal, into a family of five children. His father was a clerk at Modder B mine, which was later changed into Modderbee prison.
Comrade Nzo was married to Mrs Regina Nzo; another freedom fighter and dedicated cadre of our movement, an unsung hero of our struggle, a nurse by profession, popularly known in ANC as Ma-Nzo. A gentle motherly professional, loving and compassionate comrade who spent many years caring for the health of ANC members in various countries. I had the honour to serve with her in exile and I can only attest to the loss we have suffered when such personalities and role models are no longer amongst us. They were blessed with one son Ike Ntsikelelo and three grand children. Comrade Ike underwent medical training and qualified as a medical doctor in Russia, specialised as a Psychiatrist in Australia and further specialist training in Wits after returning from exile.
Comrade Nzo was awarded The Order of the Luthuli by President Thabo Mbeki. Comrade Nzo received the award of "Order of Friendship Among People, Praesidium of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic`s Supreme Soviet" in 1985.
After completing his matric, he enrolled for BSc degree at Fort Hare University in 1945. At Fort Hare he joined African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and became actively involved in students politics.
In his second year of study he left Fort Hare and returned to Transvaal. He worked as Health Inspector at KwaDukathole in Germiston and was later transferred to the Alexandra Health and Community Centre in 1951.
As a Health Inspector, Nzo developed much understanding of the lives of millions of South Africans in the 1950s.
Comrade Nzo got actively involved in the organising of the Defiance Campaign in 1952.
He was also involved in the campaign to interview people about the kind of society in which they would like to live. It was this campaign that culminated in the Congress of the People in 1955, at which the Freedom Charter was adopted.
In 1956 Nzo was elected the chairperson of ANC branch in Alexandra. In 1957 he organised the Alexandra bus boycotts in which people walked nine miles from the township to town and back every day for three months to protest the increase in fares. His involvement in political activities cost him his job. His expulsion from work meant that he also lost his residential permit to live in Alexandra. He was subsequently arrested several times and finally sentenced to five months imprisonment for not having a residence permit. He served his sentence at Modderbee Prison, where his father once worked.
In 1958, Nzo was elected to the Regional and National executive committees of the ANC. In 1962, Nzo was placed under 24-hour house arrest. In June 1963 he was detained for a period of 238 days. The following year, Nzo went into exile through the ANC instructions to work for the movement outside South Africa. Nzo took up posts in various countries including Egypt, India, Zambia and Tanzania where he represented the ANC.
In 1969, Nzo was elected ANC Secretary-General at the Morogoro Conference in Tanzania. He was re-elected to this position at the Kabwe Conference in 1985.
On one occassion in 1986, while acting as President of ANC, he received a delegation of South African Parlamentarians and persuaded them to resign from Parliament and agitate for negotiations with the liberation movement. In response, Alex Boraine and Van Zyl Slabbert resigned to set up the IDASA.
Comrade Nzo was a diplomat par excellance. While working with Comrade OR Tambo, Johnny Makatini and others, he was instrumental in establishing the presence of ANC offices in the continent and many countries in the world. He addressed many organisations, governments and leaders to mobilise support for our struggle against apartheid. Records show volumes of correspondence to the Secretary General of United Nations and many multi lateral forums to ensure apartheid South Africa was isolated, our cadres well received and mobilizing aid to sustain our cadres and exile communities.
After the unbanning of the liberation movements in 1989, Nzo formed part of the ANC delegation that entered into deliberations with the National Party government. Comrade Nzo lost the position of Secretary-General to Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC July 1991 National Conference held in South Africa for the first time after the unbanning of the liberation movements. He was then elected deputy head of the ANC`s security department.
After the first democratic elections, Nzo was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of Nelson Mandela. Comrade Nzo had the honour and priviledge to convert international support for ANC, it`s mission offices and ANC chief representatives to be Embassies occupied by ambassadors of a new free and democratic Republic of South Africa led by the first Black President.
Comrade Nzo received the award of "Order of Friendship Among People, Praesidium of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic`s Supreme Soviet" in 1985. In 2003, Nzo was posthumously awarded `The Order of the Luthuli` by President Thabo Mbeki.
After 1999 national elections, Nzo retired from politics and in December of the same year he suffered a stroke. On 13 January 2000, he passed away at Olivedale Clinic in Randburg, Johannesburg at the age of 75.
Despite harassment and prosecution by forces of apartheid, Comrade Nzo taught the young generation the importance of peace and reconciliation. He advocated the need to forgive and to continue the struggle for the reconstruction of our country. He advocated nation-building He was a humble person, loyal, dedicated and hard working servant of the people.
He was a good listener - respecting the opinion of all He also listened to the opposition but could never be intimidated as he had intellectual depth capable of converting opponents to the cause of our people He was focused and opposition and apartheid forces did not derail his thought processes.
Personified the principles of the ANC in his character and execution of duties
How do we honour Alfred Nzo today? We must work hard to rebuild the founding values of the African National Congress. We must redouble our efforts to forge unity of all our people,fight against racism, tribalism, sexism. We need to build a truly caring and compassionate society. The African National Congress recommit itself to honestly and selflessly work to fulfill the vision of the Freedom Charter to honour Comrade Nzo and many patriots whose lives were lost to set South Africa free. Let no South African take our freedom for democracy for granted for it never came easy.
When we say we are free we mean we have achieved political power. Now we face a mammoth task of ensuring that we eliminate poverty, inequality and unemployment. Let all those elected or appointed to positions of power understand that their first responsibility is to improve the lives, relieve the burden of suffering of the downtrodden and usher in a better life for all our people.
As we enter the third decade of freedom and democracy, we must take stock of how much remains outstanding to be done despite the achievements of the pat twenty years. We have a responsibility to implement effectively that will empower and improve lives of vulnerable groups in society.
We need to accelerate the programmes to elevate women into decision making processes. They constitute a large part of our voter community. Comrade Nzo would have fought strongly against women and children abuse.
Abuse comrades is a cancer that is eating deep into the fabric of society and pours scorn to our democratic gains, for no nation can call itself free if its women and children live in fear of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. This is call to society to rise and stamp this evil out, worki together as civil society and organs of state.
This is the time to accelerate our programs to empower the youth. Our youth must stand up to access all the pogrammes announced by President Zuma in the state of Nation address and those contained in the ANC election manifesto.
Opportunities to receive skills training in tertiary institutions, state owned and private corporations, internships, learnerships and utilization of youth employment incentives are all the efforts to expand the skills base of our country and reduce unemployment which is worst amongst the youth. Expansion of financial support in universities and building new universities indicate the commmittment of the ANC led government to take South Africa forward.
We must intensify our fight against drug abuse, drug lords, and human trafficking. We must commend the SAPS for the huge bust that hauled drug manufacturing factory in KwaZulu Natal ecently. A strong message mmust be sent to drug lords and their mules that South Africans will fight to frustrate any effort to turn our country into a haven for such criminality. We must redouble our efforts to fight crime and create an environment of peace, security and comfort called for in the Freedom Charter.
The achievements of our country in the campaign against HIV and AIDS has given hope to many countries in the world. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels. As a health inspector, Comrade Nzo would have reminded us that the best health outcomes when individuals take responsibility for their own healthy life styles in an environment where the country`s resources are directed towards continuous improvement of their socio-economic status. We still have a long way to go to build a healthier nation.
We must intensify our fight to eradicate corruption in the country. The ANC must be in the forefront in the anti-corruption drive, speaking out against it, acting as whistle blowers and supporting all investigations against irregularities. 53rd Conference instructed that decisive action has to be taken to remove from public positions leaders who are proven to have transgressed. ANC must set example of high standards of revolutionary morality and ethical leadership as a monument to all our heroes such as Alfred Nzo, Oliver Tambo, Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, Walter Sisulu. Albertina Sisulu and others. ANC leaders must demonstrate to South Africa that Nelson Mandela`s legacy is safe in the ANC as the legitimate custodian of all the values Madiba represented.
Comrade Nzo was a highly disciplined humble and loyal cadre. He never demanded recognition. I can recall one time in the ANC national conference in Mafikeng, how comrades shocked and embarrassed to discover that comrade Nzo`s name did not appear in the nomination list, before delegates rapidly corrected the mistake It was inconceivable that his name could have been left out, as not many leaders would claim any degree of seniority and a more impeccable record of service in our liberation struggle. But Comrade Nzo, the dedicated cadre and selfless servant he was, had not created any fuss.
We must emulate his exemplary leadership to build the African National Congress as a home for all. We should use platforms and organisational structures to encourage debate. We must ensure the ANC reaches out to all communities and strengthen the non-racialism and attract many more members of minority communities to feel welcome and well represented in the ANC. Let us rebuild the cadre who is in the ANC to serve the people not their own personal interest. Cadres who will openly and fearlessly express their views in the correct forums to influence the direction of the ANC. Such a cadre will know that once we reach a decision through our democratic processes, we should abide by it with honour.
It is not our culture and tradition to air our dirty laundry in public, through leaking records of confidential deliberations, often distorted to favour their personal point of view, thus bringing the ANC to public ridicule and scorn simply because they did not achieve their ends. We must stamp out divisions.
Many instances where divisions appear, they are not due to differences of opinions on how to implement the Freedom Charter but on how to subvert governance by individuals who attempt to utilize their official status for personal benefit. In the memory of Alfred Nzo Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela This must be stopped. This undermines the years and years of sacrifice made by our forebears Alfred Nzo would have been the glue that held together. He would have reminded us that the struggle did not end in 1994 and that we should continue to persevere to eliminate poverty and unemployment. President Zuma has called for closer dialogue between government, private sector, labour and civil society to rebuild our economy. The ANC led government has piloted a National Development Plan to take South Africa through the next twenty years of accelerated and radical transformation.
This period must see South African business increase the domestic investment to match the state investment in priority sectors, such as the energy mix ( more coal fired stations, solar, wind, nuclear ). Over R 3 trillion to be invested in infrastructure, such as rail, road, and information communication technology will add to a drive to reduce unemployment to 6% by 2030. Included are major projects in the Eastern Cape such as N2 Free Way and Umzimvubu Dam.
There is strong commitment to rebuild manufacturing capacity and build black industrialists. The dedicated Ministry on SMMEs is an indicator of the determination of the Fifth Administration of the Democratic govermnent to transform our economy. Stricter oversight over industrial negotiations processes to avoid a repeat of strikes in the platinum mines causing damage to the economy, will be ensured The ANC has listened to our people during the elections and took lessons from public protests. The interventions by the President in all troubled municipalities, intervening to inject funding and additional capacity are a living proof to all. The number of municipalities in the Eastern Cape Province that were mentioned for attention by President indicates that the ANC is serious about ensuring improvement in service delivery and rural development. We have heard all the concerns from you and all communities. The focus of local government interventions is to deliver electricity, roads and all municipal services in this and other provinces as we have been listening.
Our communities can expect stricter monitoring, supervision and swifter action and tougher action on transgression. A number of mayors and municipal managers have recently been forced to step down. We must expect more of this comrades as the AnC is not prepared to suffer reputation all damage through actions by people who believe they can undermine the interest of our people with impunity.
ANC counsilors and leaders at all levels must realise that losing any ward in 2016 is not an option. No structure will be expected to explain the loss of any votes. The ANC will act decisively long before there is any threat to lose voter support. Kuzomele siphakamise amakawosi.
The ANC has appreciated and were humbled by the overwhelming support and the overwhelming voter supporter in the last election. We do not take it lightly.
We shall work hard to make our people realise that democracy works and their votes count.
We therefore wish you to go out and thank each and every voter in the name of the African National Congress. We thank religious leaders and all churches and different religious groups, traditional leaders, NGOs who demonstrated confidence and mobilised support and voted for ANC.
I congratulate you for celebrating our heroes. This is a special region Alfred Nzo, Rhesha, Tambo and many more. The municipal and provincial leaders must go all out to create monuments and celebrate this heritage of struggle.
I have been encouraged by the talk of creating a heritage route to trace the footsteps of these heroes. This must be spread to offer education to the youth who must be inspired and never lose track of our history and all the sacrifices of our heroes Long live the memory of Comrade Alfred Nzo