FILE image: Reverand Frank Chikane addressing people gathered at Nelson Mandela's house in Vilakazi streeton December 6, 2013, in Soweto.
JOHANNESBURG – African National Congress stalwarts and veterans – all signatories to the document “For the Sake of our Future” – have urged ANC MPs to support the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly on 8 August, saying this will save the ANC.
In an open letter to ANC MPs on Sunday, the stalwarts said the eyes of the nation and all democrats were focused on “each and every one of you who will take your seats on that day, ready to make your mark in the history books”.
“The guideline of how you should approach your role on the day as required of you in terms of the Constitution of the Republic was outlined in the clearest of terms by the Chief Justice in the Constitutional Court determination regarding whether the Speaker had powers to provide for a secret ballot during voting on the motion of no confidence against (in this case) President Jacob Zuma.
“As stalwarts and veterans of the ANC, we acknowledge that this will probably be one of the most important, if not difficult, ballot you are called upon to cast your vote in. However, your burden should be made easier by the covenant you struck with the people of South Africa when you swore allegiance to the Constitution and, as a member of parliament, pledged never to conduct yourself in a manner that will diminish its integrity and thus that of the Republic of South Africa,” the stalwarts said.
“Now we know that the sanctity and security of the state are under direct attack from a felonious nexus of politicians, state officials, and privateers. We are witness to larceny on a grand scale, leaving the country not only impoverished, but also increasingly in the hands of criminalised and compromised governance.
“The stench of corruption is deep and broad. That this has and continues to damage the ANC’s electoral prospects is no longer in doubt. Whether our organisation can retain and regain the confidence of broader society will be determined by its ability to rid itself of the cancer of the political and economic corruption aided and abetted by key elements within the organisation.
“We know you must share the concern that there has been a widespread failure of legislatures to hold the executives to account, as well as the failure of ANC structures to maintain relevant oversight, which has led to a vacuum that the opposition has just been too happy to fill,” they said.
The motion of no confidence in Zuma was an inevitable outcome of the myriad scandals in which he had regrettably embroiled himself and his office and which continued to dog him and his executive, with ongoing revelations that left little doubt as to their veracity.
To replace the obligation of advancing the ANC’s historic mission with the burden of defending the unacceptable and indefensible was inconceivable, but sadly that was the reality ANC MPs were confronted with.
“But when the time comes for you to cast your vote on the motion of no confidence, it will ultimately come down to your own personal commitment to our country, and consequently the ANC, and a recognition that you are prepared to uphold and to help and contribute to the restoration of the highest ethical standards and values society expects of our organisation and its parliamentarians.
“It is for this reason that as stalwarts and veterans of the ANC we found it completely un-ANC and egregious for leaders of the ANC to be conducting political witch-hunts against those who’ve risen to the challenge of speaking out and becoming voices of conscience, and demanding accountability of the president and their organisation,” they said.
To infer, as no less a person than ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had done, that theirs was a “new-found conscience”, was malicious and reflected a singular inability or refusal to appreciate what it would take for good ANC comrades to do what they had done. Even more ludicrous was to seek to hide behind disciplinary action which would achieve nothing but serve to avoid the real issues that these comrades and many others were raising.
“So, as you approach the moment of truth, please appreciate that the personal decision you make in this vote of no confidence will not simply be judged in the weeks to come but will be written into the history, not only of the country but that of the ANC as an act that struck a blow for the rescuing of the ANC.
“Self-correction has to go beyond mere statements; it is about making the tough decisions which history from time to time places on the shoulders of true patriots. In this instance, saving the ANC would not be antithetical to voting in support of the motion,” the stalwarts said.
The group of 101 stalwarts, who have been loyal members of the ANC for many decades, say they want to ensure the historical values and principles of the ANC are restored. They include all of the remaining members of those imprisoned after the Rivonia Treason Trial. The late Ahmed Kathrada was the first signatory of the document.
Others include Denis Goldberg, Andrew Mlangeni, Premi Appelraju, Ismail Cachalia, Cheryl Carolus, Frank Chikane, Moss Chikane, Cas Coovadia, Alec Erwin, Frene Ginwala, Barbara Hogan, Pallo Jordan, Mandla Langa, Albertina Luthuli, Trevor Manuel, Smangaliso Mkhatshwa , Popo Molefe, Murphy Morobe, Mavuso Msimang, Sydney Mufamadi, Mike Muller, Welile Nhlapo, Essop Pahad, Aziz Pahad, Ivan Pillay, Sipho Pityana, Joyce Seroke, Gertrude Shope, Zola Skweyiya, and many other prominent ANC members.