ANC luminaries call for moral reform of party at Mlangeni funeral
Tributes for 95-year-old Rivonia trialist Andrew Mlangeni at his official funeral on Wednesday were mingled with stern admonishments from senior figures in the African National Congress (ANC) that the party needed to return to its founding values.
Former president, Thabo Mbeki, said that as a deeply moral man, Mlangeni had good reason to raise concern about the current state of the party, which he helped to build as a liberation movement fighting the apartheid regime.
"He was very concerned about his movement the ANC, a movement that he and others built over many decades, and very concerned about what is happening in our country with regards to the pursuit for which he sacrificed his life, and indeed he had very good cause to be concerned."
Mbeki recalled that at the 54th conference of the ruling party in 2017 where president Cyril Ramaphosa won control of the party, delegates acknowledged a loss of faith in the party because of issues such as corruption, nepotism, elitism and factionalism.
He said at funerals it was customary to say that the spirit of the departed would live on and wish it eternal peace.
"Because we are laying to rest this particular person, this particular distinguished patriot, distinguished revolutionary Andrew Mlangeni, we must say those words with meaning, with conviction that indeed he should rest, that we should emulate his example, that his spirit may live on," Mbeki added.
"And I think for us to say those things with meaning, with seriousness it must be because we say to ourselves we are committing ourselves to the renewal of the ANC."
The funeral itself was embroiled in controversy because its organisation was left to a company, Grocia Events, facing allegations of duplicate invoicing for several earlier state funerals.
In the welcoming address at the funeral, the MEC for education in Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, said: "The mistrust between the leadership and our people is growing daily. Never in our history [has] greediness and corruption preoccupied the minds of our people. In your honour, we need to let go of all these wrong things."
A similar sober call came from the speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, on Tuesday in Soweto when she who vowed to keep alive the principles of Mlangeni, who was the last survivor of the group sentenced to life in prison with former president Nelson Mandela.
"He does leave people in the ANC who believe in what he believed in. He does leave those of us he would pull aside, that he taught, those that he led, those that he scolded — we are there,” she said.
“What Mlangeni is leaving behind, the void he’s leaving shouldn’t be a void. We must stand up because he has handed over the baton. He has said what he wanted to say."
Ramaphosa in his funeral eulogy for Mlangeni said his death marked the end of one era and the beginning of another that left the leaders of the country to ask the question: "What now?"
"Will it be an era of adherence to the values of his glorious movement?... This is a question to which all of us who gathered here – whether in person or virtually or in spirit – hold the answer. It is through our actions that we will define this new era," he said.
"We have to fight for honest, committed and capable leaders, for democratic institutions that are strong and durable, for equality between men and women, for the rule of law and the realisation of equal rights for all."