LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT Only a united ANC can by ammaalder



Only a united ANC can meet the needs of the poor

Our country has gone through eventful and puzzling few
days. We have seen members of the ANC calling media
conferences to outline problems they have with the
organisation or to announce their resignation from the
This has been carefully choreographed to give a picture of
a crippling crisis of sorts in the African National

Granted, there have been organisational challenges within
the ANC for years and we have never hidden this fact. We
have acknowledged that the build up to the Polokwane
conference had been robust but also very bitter and
painful. Preferences for certain candidates were so
pronounced that some members whose candidates were not
elected at the conference might have felt that they have
lost their home in the ANC. Such thinking is alien to the
movement. The ANC belongs to all its members equally.

Conference instructed the ANC leadership to engage members
in every Province in a process of organisational renewal,
to heal the rifts and re-unite the organisation after
Polokwane. The difficulties in some of the Provinces pre-
dated Polokwane, and had not been attended to over a period
of time. We had to revert to old tried and tested
traditions of the movement, to re-open the space for
internal debate which had been closed for years, so that
members could talk and help to heal the rifts.

The National Working Committee have since January 2008 been
meeting in various Provinces on Mondays to work with our
structures to resolve differences and unite the ANC, in
line with the 1912 mandate from the founding fathers and
mothers of our movement.
It has been an uphill battle in some provinces due to
entrenched positions as matters had been left unresolved
for too long. It has been a difficult exercise also because
it became clear that some of our senior members had decided
to challenge the authority of the new leadership, either in
government or in some structures of the organisation. The
democratic notion of accepting the choice of the majority
despite one's own preferences appeared to have been thrown
out of the window.

We found ourselves with members who had dubious agendas and
who clearly did not want to be led. We are pleased that
they have now come out into the open instead of operating
clandestinely within our structures. We urge others who are
actively working behind the scenes to also declare their
intentions and allow the ANC to move forward in unity.

It is interesting to note that such a challenge is nothing
new, judging by what our icon Isithwalandwe Nelson Mandela
said during a Presidential address to the Transvaal ANC
congress in 1953 entitled: No Easy Walk to

"In Congress there are still many shady characters,
political clowns, place-seekers, saboteurs, provocateurs,
informers and policemen who masquerade as progressives but
who are in fact the bitterest enemies of our organisation.
Outside appearances are highly deceptive and we cannot
classify these men by looking at their faces or by
listening to their sweet tongues or their vehement speeches
demanding immediate action. The friends of the people are
distinguishable by the ready and disciplined manner in
which they rally behind their organisation and their
readiness to sacrifice when the preservation of the
organisation has become a matter of life and death.
Similarly, enemies and shady characters are detected by the
extent to which they consistently attempt to wreck the
organisation by creating fratricidal strife, disseminating
confusion and undermining and even opposing important plans
of action to vitalise the organisation".
We respect the right of anybody to form political parties
of their choice and to resign from the ANC. This is a free
country and membership of the ANC is voluntary. No serious
liberation movement would allow factionalism within its
ranks and permit people to undermine it openly from within
as this will halt the progress the ANC is making to speed
up change in its effort to create a better life for all.

That is why we have suspended factionalist members in order
to unite and refocus our organisation. It is only a strong
and united ANC that can unite the nation to meets the needs
of the poor. They factionalist members will undergo
disciplinary processes as outlined in our ANC Constitution.

We also have disgruntled members who are willing to work
with the leadership to resolve differences. These are
members who joined the ANC not for leadership positions but
because they believed in its values, policies, its
Constitution, proud history and traditions. These are the
cadres and members of the ANC and who want it to succeed.

We have a duty to listen to these members so that they can
help us improve the way the ANC is run and to solve the
outstanding issues which cause concern. The NEC members
will visit all parts of the country to meet with the
membership and discuss the current situation and any other

Some members may be angry at the recall of the former
President of the Republic in the same way that others were
furious with the dismissal of the former Deputy President
of the Republic in 2005. Others are angry about certain
decisions taken by local leadership. These are all some of
the issues we must manage working together with our
membership. It is all part of the culture of the ANC as its
members speak out when things go wrong, but within the
discipline of the organisation.
We value every single member of the ANC and do not want to
lose them to people who want power at all costs. There are
many people who have been sadly ill treated over the years
but who remain within the ANC as loyal and disciplined
members. We respect them for that.

Over the past week we have also listened with great
amazement to assertions by former comrades that there is no
internal democracy within the ANC. What is amusing is that
this is said by people who have used their leadership
positions over the years to stifle democracy and bulldoze
others whose views they disagreed with, and who are now
running away from democracy in the ANC.
We have been working day and night to undo their legacy to
remove factionalism and fear within the movement.

While healing the organisation, we are also gearing
ourselves to fight the 2009 elections. That is why some
unfortunate decisions have been taken, for example to
remove some provincial Premiers either due to poor
performance or being an obstacle to unity. Claims that the
recalls are part of post-Polokwane "purges" are incorrect.
We have stopped some provinces from removing Premiers where
we were not convinced that strong grounds existed for a
change of leadership. All Premiers are ANC deployees and we
will support them in their work to deliver services to our

The 2009 elections are essential for taking forward the
transformation outlined in the Freedom Charter, described
by Madiba as a "a beacon to the Congress Movement and an
inspiration to the people of South Africa".

In an article entitled "In Our Lifetime", published in
Liberation – a "Journal of Democratic Discussion" in June
1956, Madiba warned that a mere appraisal of a document
however dynamic its provisions or content might be is
academic and valueless "unless we consciously and
conscientiously create the conditions necessary for its
realisation. To be fruitful such appraisal must be closely
linked up with the vital question of whether we have in
South African society the requisite social forces that are
capable of fighting for the realisation of the Charter and
whether in fact these forces are being mobilised and
conditioned for this principal task''.

We are going to the ground to mobilise these forces to get
people to register to vote and to participate in the
transformation process. We will be celebrating with our
people the successes of the last 15 years of the ANC
government, while urging them to continue assisting the ANC
to make this a better country. We will be doing so fully
acknowledging and applauding the role of former Presidents
Madiba and President Thabo Mbeki in ensuring the
achievements of the ANC governments since 1994.

We will be talking to all sectors of society who are our
key stakeholders in building a better life, such as
traditional leaders, religious leaders,business, women and
youth formations and non-governmental organisations. We
will be asking for their views on how to strengthen our
priority areas such as education, health, fight against
crime, economic transformation, rural development and
agrarian reform.

In all humility, we are convinced that the ANC is the only
organisation that is democratic, truly cares for the people
and that produces policies that can truly transform this
country. It rigorously consults on processes hence internal
debate and internal democracy will always be part of ANC
culture and tradition.

As you read this, we are holding an Alliance Economic
Summit in Johannesburg, putting our heads together with our
allies to build an economy in which the creation of decent
jobs, eradication of poverty and ending inequalities are
We must also reaffirm, as we have always done, our
commitment to the Constitution of the Republic. The ANC
fought and worked hard for the Constitution and all
principles enshrined in it including the independence of
the judiciary, the rule of law and equality for all. We are
and pose no threats to the judiciary. It will never be
under attack from the ANC. The sunshine democrats who
accuse us of this know that they are being opportunistic.

People are leaving the ANC not because they dislike ANC
policies but because their own personal ambitions were
suppressed through non-election in Polokwane. We reiterate
that nobody should be or will be marginalised simply
because they voted for a particular person in Polokwane, or
because they had raised uncomfortable issues.

The unity of the movement is paramount and comes before the
personal ambitions of any member or leader.

Madiba reminded us of the importance of unity in his
message to the ANC's Kabwe conference in 1985. "In the
course of its history, the ANC has survived countless
storms and risen to eminence partly because of the sterling
qualities of its membership, and partly because each member
has regarded himself or herself as the principal guardian
of that unity. All discussions, contributions and criticism
have generally been balanced and constructive and, above
all, they have been invariably subjected to the over-riding
principle of maximum unity. To lose sight of this basic
principle is to sell our birthright, to betray those who
paid the highest price so that the ANC should flourish and

The thousands of our members who joined the ANC because of
its values and principles will never lose sight of these
principles. When there are problems they will not run away
from the ANC. The test of time in our lives as cadres of
the movement is how we endure difficulties, and how we are
able to face the challenges and deal with them within the
The legacy of those who run away will always be
questionable. We will always wonder why they joined the ANC
in the first place.

Jacob G Zuma

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