The leadership of the Alliance partners
The Veterans League
The ANC Youth League and the Women`s League
All members of this meeting
We are greeting this important Provincial General Council this morning in the name of our revolutionary movement, the African National Congress as we mark the final preparations for our National Policy Conference which is due to sit in a few days. This PGC is an important political platform that must be used to plan for the National Policy Conference that is expected to lead the process of defining the direction of the movement at this juncture of our revolution.
Therefore, we have a compelling task to concentrate on the discussion documents and ensure that we understand the content in order to make informed contributions that are aimed at strengthening the hegemony of the movement. The only way we can succeed in building a living and relevant African National Congress is to have a policy direction that is upfront in addressing many socio-economic difficulties facing the masses of our people.
We must have a policy position that assists in finding solutions to the many challenges facing our continent. This year our continent is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the African Union which was formed to open a new chapter for our continent which amongst others is supposed to promote economic growth that is able to benefit the indigenous people of this continent.
We moved from the Organisation of African Unity to the African Union with one determination to position Africa as the dominant force in this century. We formed the AU in order to stop depending on our former colonisers for survival. The establishment of the AU was expected to close and never again open any refugee camps on the continent, because all Africans were supposed to be in their respective homes living together as families without the sound of machine guns.
The reality is that we have not been able to realise many objectives behind the formation of the African Union. Many of our people are still in refugee camps while many others perish during long journeys while attempting to flee their respective countries because of either internal conflict or a shortage of economic opportunities. Our former colonisers are still dictating terms for us even when they are at their lowest state economically.
Africa is afforded non-permanent representation at the United Nations Security Council. Over the past years we have been calling for the transformation of the Security Council, including the allocation of permanent representation to our continent, a call that has not yet received a positive response. However, we should ask ourselves whether we have developed the courage to use such permanent representation to advance and protect the interests of our continent, including those of our international friends.
The manner in which many African countries still depend on aid from our colonisers makes it difficult to believe that we will use our Security Council`s permanent representation without external manipulation, especially from those who once claimed to own us.
Therefore, comrades, we must lead the process of building a strong African continent that is self reliant. We must focus more attention on cementing relations with our friends in the East, our fellow Africans in the Diaspora and all other nations that share with us the same vision. It is necessary and compelling for the African National Congress to have sound and relevant foreign policies which will push forward the African agenda without compromise.
We have said on many occasions that it is important to have a foreign policy that is aligned to the history of our struggle. We must also have leadership that possesses the courage to articulate and defend our foreign policy consistently. Any international relations policy that is not clear and consistent will not only be dangerous to us, but will also compromise the continent. We should appreciate that we are standing in a better position to protect and advance the interests of our continent.
Our region was to host the African Union Heads of States Summit which is also expected to finalise the unfinished work of the last meeting with specific reference to the election of the Chairperson of the AU Commission. We are hopeful that the meeting will be able to conclude this issue so that the continent can move forward. As the African National Congress, we have a historic obligation to ensure that we unite this continent behind one mission. The day we find ourselves in the middle of disuniting Africa through our actions, it will be the day imperialist forces celebrate.
Malawi, which is a member of the International Criminal Court, was to be the host of the meeting but emphatically pronounced that it will not allow the President of Sudan, President Omar Al Bashir to attend the meeting because of his indictment and arrest warrant issued by the same court. Malawi, has also taken this opportunity to present itself to the West in a bid to attract foreign donors in order to rebuild its economy. This is done at the stake of unity in Africa.
Our country is also a member to the International Criminal Court Statute and we have always expressed different positions on whether President Al Bashir will be welcome in South Africa or not. Our last position on this issue was that the arrest warrant against President Al Bashir will be implemented the day he finds himself within our borders, meaning he is not welcome within our shores.
Therefore, this means that one of the African Presidents is not welcome in South Africa because of our membership to the International Criminal Court. Our shores, airports and borders are opened to Western leaders who killed many innocent people in the world, but are closed to fellow African leaders who have been paraded as mass killers of people. The International Criminal Court has not investigated even a single Western leader for gross human rights violations, despite their atrocious actions in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and recently Libya.
We have not even counted the many civil wars that they have sponsored around the world, which left scores of people dead and others displaced. The fact that President Al Bashir is not welcome in our countries, based on our membership to the International Criminal Court and the selective approach of the Court to issues, gives us solid reasons to review our subscription to the Court.
Many African countries joined the International Criminal Court, not because they believed in the power of the Court to punish perpetrators of international crimes, but because they wanted to prove to the imperialists` forces that they embrace human rights and democracy. The approach of the Court to alleged human rights violations has not been consistent.
In Libya the Court indicted President Colonel Gaddafi as well as two other individuals close to him, but not did charge others, in particular rebels and NATO leaders. In the Ivory Coast, the Court indicted President Laurent Gbagbo and attributed every crime that was committed in that country to him and his forces, despite numerous reports by the Human Rights Watch that forces loyal to the other group also committed grave human rights violations.
The same Human Rights Watch, along with other global human rights advocates, have made a clarion call to have the actions of NATO forces in Libya and the rebels investigated, but all those calls were not loud enough to convince the Court to act otherwise. As South Africa, in particular under the ANC led government, we cannot be associated with a Court that is partial and biased.
It must be emphasised that if certain African leaders are not welcome in our country, our programme of building a united and focused continent will be delayed. Furthermore, if countries relate on reciprocal interaction then it will mean leaders who are denied the opportunity to visit our country may do the same to us. We must stand firm in rejecting the selective justice that is being perpetrated by the Court.
Our economic prosperity as a country largely depends on the stability of our region and Africa as a whole. At our 7th ANC provincial conference we had the opportunity to discuss some of the issues which are contained in the discussion documents. We must recap on those issues and carry them to the policy conference. We must ensure that we emerge with economic policies that will benefit the masses of our people.
We cannot overemphasise the importance of strengthening the internal structures of the movement. The ANC must not be controlled by administrative staff because elected politicians have other government or private responsibilities. We must have an organisation that is managed and led by elected leaders, who are prepared to sacrifice all luxuries for the sake of building a strong movement. We should develop the best methods of renewing our organisation.
We cannot renew our organisation without improving the manner in which our branches operate. We have said it several times before that many of our branches only launch during elective conferences. BGMs` and BEC meetings are only convened to prepare for elective gatherings. Yet we come to conferences and claim that our branches are in good standing.
We should all know that a branch is in good standing when it has been able to convene regular BEC meetings and monthly quorating BGMs`. Therefore, the dominant understanding that a branch is in good standing, only if it managed to convene a quorating BGM on the eve of a conference is narrow and not sustainable.
The present approach may also be unfair to those branches that call regular BEC meetings and monthly quorating BGM`s, but only to fail to reach a quorum in a single BGM that is expected to nominate delegates to the conference. We are articulating this point mindful of our view that branches which convene monthly quorating BGMs` stand in a good position to organise well attended meetings throughout the year.
Our monthly BGMs` must be used to discuss the state of the branch and the organisation as a whole. Such meetings must also discuss community issues. This means our people must attended our meetings with the conviction that their community challenges will be addressed. Our BGMs` should not be dominated by chaos, and all other acts of intolerance, including vulgar language.
We must be able to appreciate that our meetings are attended by people at different stages of their lives. Therefore, we must respect each other as part of building a strong African National Congress.
During the preparations of the recent Regional Conferences it came to our attention that some comrades have decided to limit the process of recruiting members in order for their BGMs` to reach a quorum easily. This cannot be accepted for there is no branch that must put a limitation on the number of people who qualify to join the ANC.
In the same voice of disapproving the actions of those who are putting limitations on recruitment, we are also speaking against those who are doing gate keeping by deciding who must join the ANC and who must not join. If evidence of such actions proving the misconduct of the perpetrators is provided, the movement will act without mercy. The ANC will not have mercy on those who have personalised branches of the movement; this includes those who embark on signature campaigns because their BGMs` failed to reach a quorum.
We should not fail in building structures that understand the internal processes of the movement. Our members must know that elective conferences are not battlegrounds, but internal political platforms that are used mainly to review the state of the organisation, including analysing external forces and how they impact on our direction as a movement.
What the movement has been subjected to, especially after our December conference where we had to go through a six month period of uncertainty because certain comrades failed to accept the election outcomes, despite the approval of the results by all observers, must not be repeated.
We must also condemn in the strongest terms those who may have made false proclamations that the PEC was due for dissolution. The services of certain media houses were used to spread the news about the possible dissolution of the PEC in order to raise legitimacy questions for the provincial leaders and all other structures of the movement in the province. But we should be encouraged that in the end, the movement has emerged and we are facing forward. What happened must never be repeated as it weakens the movement.
According to internal processes, a lower structure cannot jump an immediately higher structure in order to lodge a compliant. This is not only limited to structures, but also to members. When a member is not happy with something either at a branch or regional level, and decides to go straight to Luthuli House, without registering his compliant with the highest structure in the province,then such a member does not know the ANC.
A branch issue or a complaint by a member must first receive the attention of the sub-region and the region, if necessary the PEC as the ultimate authority before the NEC. The fact that a certain member has direct communication with a leader of an upper structure does not mean internal processes must be undermined.
We must respect internal processes of the organisation regardless of our connections within the movement. A person`s connections have nothing to do with the organisation and therefore must never be exercised in a manner that harms the movement and undermines other structures, including leaders. It is worthwhile to mention that we are not only condemning those who are living under the false hope that their connections win them issues, but we are also denouncing those other leaders who might be involved from senior structures.
Therefore, comrades, the task ahead requires us to be honest and frank in order to strengthen the African National Congress for survival and to lead for the next 100 years.
We must close ranks and build a strong African National Congress which meets the legitimate expectations of our people.
The ANC lives! The ANC leads!