Sikhumbuzo Thomo is a member of the ANC and the head of the economic diplomacy task team.
Sikhumbuzo Thomo is a member of the ANC and the head of the economic diplomacy task team.

Finding our footing without losing our heads

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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OPINION: Through the Covid-19 Command Council as led by the President, our adjustments have enabled us, in very difficult circumstances, to maintain, seize or regain the strategic initiative on many fronts.

by Sikhumbuzo Thomo

The present situation on the Local Government Elections poses two basic challenges to our broad national liberation movement. As the African National Congress, we have found our feet in a fast-changing, slippery present without losing our longer-term perspectives.

If we spend too much time admiring our own liberation history and footwork, we run the risk of forgetting where we have been trying to go for the past years since the advent of our democracy. If we simply stare at future goals, we are going to lose our balance, right here in the present.

These twin challenges demand creativity from us in regard to a wide range of issues – not least in the development of the programme of our broad national liberation movement and in our organisational character of our movement. We cannot simply stand still, but we cannot just invent for its own sake. We need to debate, discuss and analyse the current environment.

On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has presented to us a new national terrain for which we either have to develop new strategies or at least considerably alter our mass existing mass mobilisation strategies and tactics in line with the Covid-19 regulations.

Failure to make such an adaptation would have disarmed us. We had to read the Covid-19 situation accurately and develop the correct approach in order to save lives and our economy and country.

And our attempts to adjust tactically and strategically to the new situation have often been innovative. Through the Covid-19 Command Council as led by the President, our adjustments have enabled us, in very difficult circumstances, to maintain, seize or regain the strategic initiative on many fronts.

All of the issues in our 2021 Local Government Elections Manifesto are contributions to critical issues from our communities themselves and wards themselves in their areas, as its process has been to focus on specific areas, as will be evident in the provincial launches and roll out. Something that nobody else has done.

Through our President, Comrade Matamela Ramaphosa, as the ANC, we tabled to South Africans the strategic perspectives that both address the programmatic questions of the local government and their relationship to the organisation of our movement of the ongoing renewal programme that will be at the centre of our efforts to build better communities together.

It is the plan that clearly illustrates the ANC’s approach on how it effectively engages the present situation of our people with women and the youth at the centre of development. This plan further defines how the working-class interests are to be advanced in this complex transition.

This manifesto is not the result of organisational manoeuvres or zig-zagging. It is rooted in the social and economic realities. Ours is a society in which national oppression of the majority still occurs through deliberate clandestine acts of depriving of public goods and services to our people by the opposition wherever it leads.

Together with our people, we need to correct this. We live in a country in which the poor and the working-class is not just strategically placed but numerically dominant. No meaningful transformation process is possible without our people playing a leading role in every respect. This means our people need to come out in their full numbers in all voting stations and districts.

No effective liberation is possible unless our people's interests are central. This is the bedrock of our plan and message in the People’s Manifesto. On the other hand, no liberation is going to occur without mobilising the broadest range of nationally oppressed.

And as the ANC, we are the only organisation that has demonstrated this. The leading role of the majority-blacks is not to be won on the margins or only amongst themselves. That leading role has to be carved out within the majority political project itself.

And, in South African conditions, that majority political project, i.e. the National Democratic Revolution, as everyone knows and as even the opposition more than once acknowledged, lies only within the ANC. It lies within the ANC-led alliance – the tripartite and the much-wider ANC-aligned mass democratic movement.

No one, as far as we know, is denying that there have not been challenges even from amongst ourselves. And here, these challenges existed, we have put in place transparent measures to counter-act any misgivings. And the processes of self-correction are in motion and in place.

We have listened to our people and are acting on all wrongdoing. That said, it means the ongoing organisational character of the ANC is certainly something to be taken for granted.

And as the ANC, we will be the first to say our people should not promote us only for old time sake because we are grounded in the social and economic realities of the country.

This People’s Manifesto is a product of our people themselves through the broad consultations, the alliance and the mass democratic formations in our country. Obviously, it is best out there as it takes shape and character of our people and the alliance through consensus and conscious decisions. For that character, we are saying our people need to constantly assess us on the implementation of their resolutions in the coming term.

Democracy is not a benevolent affair. Together with our people, we must take the central stage in the development of our communities and South Africa.

*Thomo is a member of the ANC and the head of the economic diplomacy task team. He writes in his personal capacity

** The views expressed here may not be that of IOL.

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