Celebrations around Charlotte Maxeke’s life comes at a time when there are deep divisions within the ANC
Durban – The commemoration celebrations of Charlotte Maxeke was used as a platform for ANC rivals President Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule to garner support and elevate their standing in the party.
Maxeke would have been 150 years old this week and with the ANC declaring 2021 as “The year of unity, renewal and reconstruction in the year of Charlotte Maxeke”, several activities took place across the country.
Celebrations around Maxeke’s life comes at a time when there are deep divisions within the ANC with allegations of a splinter party called the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction emerging.
The party also recently took a tough stance against corruption among its members by activating a resolution that any member facing serious crime and corruption charges or allegations must step aside from their positions or face suspension.
Ramaphosa led the celebrations in Maxeke’s birthplace of Alice in the Eastern Cape where he preached unity.
He called on the ANC Youth League to assist in uniting the party as it faces deep divisions and a serious fall-out come month-end when many members have to step aside or face suspension.
“If we don’t unite, we are going to fall.
“The Youth League will work with us to make sure we unite the ANC.
“There is no other way but to unite the ANC otherwise the ANC will continue to fall apart,” Ramaphosa said.
“We must address the issue of corruption within the ANC so that our people can regain their confidence in the ANC.
“I can see that nearly all of you love the ANC but you will love the ANC more if you see the ANC acting against corruption and those who participate in corruption,” Ramaphosa said.
While Ramaphosa led the celebrations in the Eastern Cape, Magashule was in Gauteng where he visited Maxeke’s home in Kliptown and then addressed a congregation at the Nancefield Cemetery where Maxeke was buried in 1939.
In his address, Magashule strongly defended the controversial RET rhetoric saying that the economy needed to be in the hands of African people and “that dream should be realised today and not tomorrow”.
He called on the ANC Women’s League and religious leaders to play a role in RET.
“South Africa must turn for the best and the women leadership of this country – the Women’s League – can play that important role to change the lives of our people.
“The leadership of the church can still play that role in ensuring that our people are now living in a better South Africa,” he said.
Magashule said the dream that Nelson Mandela and even Maxeke had for South Africa was to ensure that everyone was out of abject poverty.
“That dream must be realised and it cannot take many years.
“It must be a dream that is realised today and not tomorrow,” he said.
Maxeke was honoured as a religious leader and social and political activist who was the first black woman to graduate with a university degree in South Africa with a BSc degree from Wilberforce University Ohio in 1901.
She was also the first black African woman to graduate from an American university.
In a separate event where Magashule introduced the newly appointed ANCYL National Youth Task Team – deployed to resurrect the youth league – he shied away from questions around whether he intended to step aside or defy a party resolution.