Emulate Xuma and be ethically upright, political leaders urged
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed liberation Struggle icon and former ANC president Dr AB Xuma for playing a pioneering role in the battle for land redistribution in the country.
Ramaphosa was on Sunday delivering a eulogy at the reburial of Xuma in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape and the funeral was accorded a special official status.
Xuma was ANC president from 1940 to 1949 and it was under his leadership that the ANC Youth League was established, increasing the radical posture of the party.
Xuma, who died in 1962 in Johannesburg and was buried at Brixton Cemetery, was also the first black doctor in the country.
Ramaphosa said Xuma had left a big footprint on the country and the ANC which could not be erased.
“It was under the leadership of Dr Alfred Bathini Xuma that the African National Congress adopted the African Claims’ document at its annual conference on December 16, 1943. This seminal document laid out the African people’s demands for full equality and citizenship rights. Most importantly, it prioritised the South African people’s right to land ownership,” he said.
He maintained that the document demanded a fair redistribution of land and was critical of the colonial race-based system.
“It is of great significance that our nation will soon realise some of the social reforms that Dr AB Xuma championed for most of his life,” he said.
Ramaphosa said Xuma had inherited a much weaker ANC which was distant from communities and that it was under his stewardship that it recovered and its unity improved.
“Under Dr Xuma’s leadership, the ANC was built into a strong and cohesive political force, leading the Congress Alliance into a programme of mass action in the 1950s. He understood that the ANC must be built from the grassroots and that its strength and power lay in the branches,” he said.
It was also under Xuma that ANC membership was equally extended to women and the ANC Women’s League was established.
Ramaphosa said one of Xuma’s legacies was having instilled a culture of robust intellectual engagement within the ANC.
Ramaphosa said the country’s current leaders had to emulate Xuma’s ethical uprightness.
He added: “He (Xuma) took his role seriously and discharged it faithfully. He forged consensus and unity. He understood then, as we do today, that if we fall prey to division, dissent and discord, we will never achieve our aims,” he said.