HUMAN Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Sunday called on the SA Communist Party (SACP) to take up its vanguard role as the alliance partner to the ANC.
During a Nelson Mandela lecture organised by the Jack Simon Party School, Sisulu said the SACP had established a strategic partnership with the ANC with the common objective of defeating apartheid.
“SACP worked in alliance with the ANC, and its leaders assumed leadership positions within the movement.
“I call on the Communist Party to get back to their militant stand … which they always have to ensure we, as the ANC, navigate through the difficult times to assist us,” she said.
“I believe as a vanguard party you have that particular responsibility to take us where we should be right now,” Sisulu said.
Sisulu also said that Mandela had been humble and man of principle who stuck to the theory of revolution.
Mandela had been completely unapologetic about the position of the ANC, and was always calm in everything he did.
Sisulu said Madiba, whom she rarely saw angry, once took out his anger on her when he mistook her for interrupting when he was addressing the ANC’s parliamentary caucus.
“I left the caucus and went to wait for him at his office, and I was completely beside myself. I literally yelled at him because he heard the wrong person,” she said.
Sisulu said she was amazed that the following week he invited himself to the caucus and, to her embarrassment, apologised for his outburst.
“I was even more than beside myself, because I never expected a man of his stature to come to caucus and to come to apologise for something that has already blown over. That was the man he was.”
Recalling the Algerian general who trained Mandela in guerrilla tactics, she said the general let it be known that they were the people who trained Mandela.
“It goes to show what impact the man made to the world that many people years later wanted to be known as the men who trained Madiba.”
She also said that Mandela, who had been arrested with notes he had made on his Africa tour before his arrest, was not apologetic and did not deny during the Rivonia Trial that he had written those notes.
“From this man and his generation, we have learnt all we needed to learn about revolutionary fervour, and its all-encompassing mindset that produces immense selfishness, readiness to commit to give up everything and ensure rights and justice for all and subordination to the course of the struggle for equality.”
She, however, said she was unsure whether their generation had defined what they were ready to die for and how the future generation would define them.
“Would they define us as revolutionaries that saved the country or failed them?
“Would they define us as people who went out to die for them and ensured the ideal they were prepared to die for continued?”
Sisulu said the reflections on Mandela happened at a time when the country was engulfed by an unprecedented protests and violence and while it tried to reaffirm the supremacy of many things that it held dear – democracy.
“Who is the final arbiter of whether we got it tight? Is it the people, or have we handed over to other arbitrators? These are questions to continuously engage.”
She also said never in their lives have they seen hunger, frustration and criminality drive people to looting and destroying property on such a scale as in the past week.
“Never have we seen the state capacity unable to rise immediately to the occasion, perhaps because we never had or anticipated this kind of situation before.
“As we move to bring the situation under control, no one can deny that we are emerging as a country from a trying time this country has never countenanced,” Sisulu said.
Sisulu also said the most important attribute of Mandela was his ability to humble himself.
“I don’t not know if Madiba ever took a decision on his own. What marks him out as an outstanding leader is his ability to consult at all material times when he has to took a decision.
“Maybe, this was borne out of the time spent in prison. I am not sure, but this is the man who led us to where we are right now.”