Members of the National Executive Council
Leaders of the Pan Africanist Women’s Organisation
The Pan Africanist Students Movement Of Azania (PASMA)
The Pan Africanist Student Organisation (PASO)
The Pan Africanist Youth Congress (PAYCO)
The APLA Veterans Association
The Pan Africanist Labour Federation (PALF)
All Distinguished Delegates To This Congress
Sons and Daughters of Afrika,
I stand before you today with profound gratitude to you, the National Congress- the Supreme Body of this great liberation movement of Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe and his brave and self-less comrades; for giving me the honour to serve, to work for you, and with you, to prepare the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania as a Party that is the alternative and the future government to serve the fundamental interests of the African people, especially with regard to equitable redistribution of land and its resources in order to wipe out the inhuman conditions in which the African majority lives in this country, and of course, to give free massive education to our people in all fields of knowledge so that they can have the capacity to advance themselves economically and technologically and stamp out endemic corruption of the present ANC government which is destroying the primary objective of our liberation struggle that is soaked with so much sacrificial service, suffering and blood. Our people need economic liberation and freedom.
I pay tribute to the members of the PAC National Executive Council, and to all those who have served with me for the last three years. I pay tribute to our first President Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe that shining revolutionary star who changed the face of South Africa. Through the Positive Action Campaign which led to the Sharpeville Uprising, PAC internationalised the vile system of apartheid. This resulted in the expulsion of South Africa from the United Nations. The PAC introduced the armed struggle for self-determination and its members were the first to be imprisoned on Robben Island beginning from 12th October 1962. Sobukwe pioneered the liberation struggle from the politics of appeasing the oppressors to the politics of confronting the oppressors by all means necessary. That is why the colonialists made a special law for the Pan Africanist Congress called “Sobukwe Clause” and subsequently poisoned him to die in banishment in Kimberly.
I salute Uncle Zephaniah Mothopeng, the most tortured political leader for liberation in the history of South Africa. This revolutionary leader was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for the Soweto Uprising of June 16, 1976. I honour Comrade Clarence Mlamli Makwetu who steered the PAC at a difficult time in which the imperialists aggressively promoted so-called moderate leaders in order to give this country naked neo-colonialism that has made no change in the lives of the African majority. If you listen to Makwetu today, he still articulates the vision of the PAC without compromise and with crystal clarity.
I honour Dr. Stanley Mogoba who brought great changes to the constitution of our Party and in parliament was instrumental in bringing a law that accrued pension benefits to our young guerrillas of our armed struggle who did not get any pension in 1994. I honour him for his patience, wisdom and his continued dedication to the total liberation of our country.
I pay tribute to our leaders who led the PAC in exile and became at different times Commanders –in- Chief of the most effective guerrilla military machine this country ever had, the Azanian Peoples liberation Army (APLA). Here I am saluting the sacrificial and dedicated leadership of Potlako K. Leballo, Nyathi Pokela and Johnson ‘’River’’ Mlambo. And APLA Chief Commanders Gerald “Kibwe”Kondlo of the Villaperi fame, T.M. Ntantala and Sabelo Phama. I pay tribute to all the founding fathers and mothers of this invincible movement whose history is written with blood which no lies written with ink can erase.
‘‘There are no limits to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.’’
I now want to thank the people of Qwaqwa. They have had PAC freedom fighters such as Jerry Leeuw, David Ramakgole, Ephraim Molebatsi and Kotope Mofokeng who were imprisoned on Robben Island. The PAC has not forgotten that under the leadership of Chief Mopeli the people of Qwaqwa refused to accept “Bantustan independence” until Mangaliso Sobukwe and other political leaders were freed from prisons.
The PAC is saddened, however that Qwaqwa is the only former Bantustan that has no airport, yet under Chief Mopeli there was already an airstrip here in Phuthaditshaba which was to be developed into an airport. The PAC demands that an airport be reconstructed for Qwaqwa to promote the tourist industry and general economic development of this part of our country thus create jobs and eradicate poverty in Qwaqwa.
I have been impressed by the authentic members of the PAC who have risen to every new challenge. You, the members have made our social fabric stronger, our position on free education credible. You have forced the nation to recognise that our position on the land question is fundamental to the Azanian revolution and that no force can reverse it. Our detractors at the government’s land summit of 2005 vindicated us when they admitted that their “willing seller willing buyer” market led land redistribution process has failed. We have taught the nation courage through the actions of many of our members who have used the right to protest against lack of service delivery. When water meters are being forced upon the African people the PAC is there. I want to pay special tribute to Cde, Bricks Mokolo the Chairperson of the Orange Farm Water Crisis Committee. On September 6th he led a blockade on the Golden Highway with the demand for water service delivery now!
Sons and Daughters of Africa, We meet here at an historical moment. The Democratic Republic of Congo has just held its first democratic elections since the death of Patrice Lumumba in 1960. This demonstrates that imperialism cannot have its way forever. Sadly, Southern Africa is experiencing the fastest growth of the scourge of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The right to work has become a distant dream for many. In our country there is over 40% unemployment among the African people. Meanwhile others like the Pick and Pay boss take home R59 million per year, R1.1 million per week, R142.859 per day, R17859 per hour, yet denies workers a small increase of R300 per month.
We meet here when imperialism as President Kwame Nkrumah said is still a powerful force to be reckoned with in Africa. It controls our economies. It operates on a world-wide scale. Today it controls our lives through a complex web of economic, political, cultural, educational, military, intelligence and information technology.
We meet here when everything that gives us life and a right to exist is being sold away. The right to water is fast becoming corporate America and Europe’s private property. They have discovered that privatising water will give Americans and Europeans profits of about US$1 trillion. That is over 7 trillion Rand .The right to education is becoming more impossible denying millions new opportunities and our country to advance.
A recent report tells us that slum dwellers are increasing in African urban centres. There is no decent housing, no access to water, to healthcare, access to education or right to dignity for millions moving from rural areas seeking to better their lives. It is here that the twin virus of unemployment and HIV/AIDS eat away hope, dreams and dignity.
We meet here at a time when the European Union has shaped a so-called partnership that they say will resolve our economic problems and lead us to the heaven of economic growth, access to their markets and help Africa to become a major global player by becoming more integrated into the world economy.
On the other hand neo-colonialism rears its ugly head through the free trade areas, which the United States is trying to impose upon our region. The present government has confined our people to a history of relationships built on corporate greed. These agreements which the masses do not know about, deny them the right to produce their own food, allow foreign investors to be treated like angels, and dismantle our entire industrial base with more people loosing the ability to produce. Even generations of fisher people of the Eastern and Western Cape shores are denied the right to fish in their own waters.
No political party, however much it has achieved in the past is entitled to power in the future. No party has a God- given right to govern. There is no natural party of government. The right to govern is a privilege we have to earn. And we will only earn it if we are clear, confident and consistent about what it means to be Pan Africanist.
When you are in opposition it is hard to prove that you mean what you say, that you will deliver what you promise. But you can show by how you act and by what you say, that you are competent to govern. I believe that if the PAC does not lose the vision of the liberation struggle of its founders like Sobukwe and Mothopeng, the African Kings and early leaders of the 1912 ANC leaders such as Sol Plaatje; it can and will govern this country and give birth to Azania.
Competence is built on discipline. In our Party we need discussion and debate. But let us not be offensive towards one another. Let us not destroy our Party. Let us show we can elect a leader without bitterness and backbiting. Let us unite behind that new elected leadership not just for a week or month, but for the full tenure of its office, for as long as it abides by the constitution and ideology of the Pan Africanist Congress and its vision and mission. Of course, it is logical that a leadership of a political Party must be accountable not only to its members, but to the nation as a whole.
My contention is that we have not won political freedom. We have won a political battle. The revolution has not been won. We have a dangerous unprincipled compromise. It is not yet Uhuru! The compromise that is really appeasement has legalised poverty. We are far from eradicating poverty.
This PAC National Congress is a rare opportunity for a broad exchange of views, to study solutions of problems central to our common concerns. We must do this with the aim to not only strengthen our unity and solidarity with each other, but also to improve the thought and actions of each of us in the daily practice of struggle and the work we do to liberate the African people from economic oppression and destruction.
Our agenda includes commission topics whose importance and acuteness are beyond doubt critical for assisting the PAC to adapt its policies and programmes to the current issues confronting the African people. I note, that one item is not explicitly mentioned on the agenda; although I am certain it was present in the minds of those like Comrade Lucas Molomo who drew it up. I am referring to the missing item on the agenda which should be entitled the struggle against our weaknesses.
I believe that these days hold lessons richer than those of an entire decade. The experience of being President for the last 3 years has shown me that our people are learning with incredible speed and so profoundly that a thousand days of study are nothing in comparison. We are growing up in the Pan Africanist Congress. We are debating more seriously. These are good developments that we must build on. In these last local elections out of 13 parties in parliament we became number 5. Out of 41 organisations that took part in these last elections we maintained position 5. This we did without resources, but with sheer courage and determination since the rich in this country at time of elections give money only to their forces of plutocracy and kleptocracy. That is to ensure the government of the rich by the rich or the rich and of those with an uncontrollable impulse to steal state monies.
The era in which we have to conduct the business of liberating our people from economic domination and exploitation is fraught with political contradictions.
There are questions on whether it is prudent to be a Pan Africanist in the midst of deepening neo-colonialism. Our members have to function in a political environment that is intolerant of Pan Africanism. In some quarters it is ridiculed as an old ideology. By others it is distorted in such a way that its meaning and direction limit its power to fundamentally change the lives of the African people.
The economy under the auspices of GEAR dazzles some here with possibilities of black economic empowerment. The cold reality however is that the former apartheiders and colonialists have entrenched their power in the economic structures of this country to the extent that the African people will remain exploited or jobless in the so-called free market for centuries to come.
The PAC functions in a country that practises capitalism. Many believe that the ideal of socialism has no relevance or place in our society. They say that the founding fathers of this Party were misguided in their views. They claim that the PAC cannot have a transformation agenda in this context. The Pan Africanist Congress however, is this country’s seasoning salt. It is the light of this country. It is like a city on a hill, a glowing light in the night for all to see. The PAC is the only solid political Party that can bring about socialism.
The programme of socialism is the simplest programme to implement. Socialism is like the biblical teaching which says give to those who ask, help the poor, heal and take care of the sick, take care of the homeless, feed the hungry, take care of the children, young and old. Clothe the clotheless. Be the salt of the earth. Of course, it also demands hard work from all able bodied citizens. Freedom and Work! “Uhuru na Kazi.” Sweat is sweet. Our ancestors practised this socialism and there was no such deep poverty among the African people. Work was shared and fruits were shared.
We must respond decisively and factually when we defend socialism and Pan Africanism. The logic of democracy and capitalism are contradictory. Democracy emphasises joint interests of the people, equality, and common loyalties. Capitalism on the other hand is based on self-seeking, inequality and conflicting individual and group interests. Capitalism has failed in America where it has been practised for centuries. It is failing in our country. If it was such a success why does America have people who are homeless, jobless and unable to afford medical insurance?
Pan Africanism is very clear. We cannot give the African people equality before the law while maintaining inequalities in the distribution of land, the right to work and economic opportunities. The context in South Africa under the current ruling party promotes the logic of capitalism that brings with it unequal access to water, land, education, healthcare, jobs and income.
We can therefore not be co-opted into a system that defends the strong, skilful and property land owners, while exploiting the weaker and less cunning African majority in the name of co-operation or principled partnership which is nothing but a partnership of horses and riders. African people are horses and their exploiters are riders in this inhuman game.
We stand for an Africanist socialist democracy because we know that socialism is a simple programme to implement, and it is what the nation needs. This Congress must deliberate and resolve on the need for a new way to distribute the wealth of this country. It is the key to delivering the African people from the shame of poverty.
This Congress must deliberate on the state of our Party and pronounce clearly where and how we should position ourselves in the few issues, I have raised regarding the analysis I have presented around the challenges we face as a revolutionary Pan Africanist political party participating in parliamentary politics.
State & analysis of the PAC
I mentioned earlier that the item missing on our National Congress is the struggle against our own weaknesses.
There is an African saying, “No matter how hot the water from the well; it will not cook your food.” What the African people are expressing with staggering simplicity is a basic principle of political science. Essentially, at the political level, however beautiful and attractive the reality of others may be we can only truly transform our own reality, on the basis of detailed knowledge of it and our own efforts and sacrifices.
We have an ideological deficiency in the PAC. I am not saying we have a lack of ideology. We have an ignorance of our historical reality. Our contradictions will sharpen as tension grows between those who aspire to transform the Party from reality that belongs to someone else.
Our inability to articulate clearly why we stand for Pan Africanism and why we believe it will save and restore the African people is our greatest weakness. In our inability to articulate the line of the Pan Africanist Congress we become seduced into thinking our line is imperfect and irrelevant simply because we have not studied our own struggles and developed a healthy and critical appreciation of the experiences, victories and lessons from the PAC. To those who see this view as being theoretical, I would recall that every practice gives birth to a theory.
It can be said that a revolution can fail, even if it is nurtured of perfectly conceived theories, however, I know that nobody has yet successfully practised revolution without an ideology.
We must adapt to class struggle within the PAC. Those who have means to produce their incomes and wealth will have different reasons for being members of the Pan Africanist Congress. Those who are struggling to just survive will raise issues of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, landlessness and HIV/AIDS affecting their daily lives.
We may all call each other M-Afrika or “Comrade” but we are not the same. We do not have the same financial means, education and background. It is imperative that we note that the struggle in the PAC is the mirror of our society. This is the socio-economic reality of our country.
We have to guard against the more educated and rich class in the Party dominating ideas and influencing the PAC to go towards a more capitalist orientation while leaving millions behind. The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania was established on what its founders, especially Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe, its first President called “the down trodden masses and the revolutionary intelligentsia.”
The intellectuals must rebel against their class and throw their lot with the poor, the helpless, the powerless. They must side with justice for the poor, not with the powerful and the rich. There can never be social justice where there is a wide gap between the rich and the poor amidst enough resources for everyone. The problem of the world and Azania (South Africa) is not lack of resources. It is the unjust system of inequitable distribution of land and its resources and the greed and corruption among the powerful and rich in our nation.
Parliament, legislatures and councils are creating a new tension in the PAC. Members who move into a system of privilege and trappings of new wealth can easily formulate ideas that serve a few individuals and interests, rather than the millions of Africans. These class tensions are emerging in the PAC in a manner that creates contestation around the direction the Party should go. We should not be tempted to serve the interests of an emerging small developing bourgeois in the Party.
Our programmes and actions must flow from the reality of the majority of the lived experiences of the African people. The African liberation struggle was for the vast millions of the poor. It was not for the enrichment of a few at the expense of the many. I think this is closer to what Jesus Christ preached on what some theologians call “social gospel” today.
This Congress must deliberate on this because the lack of class coherence will trap us into the absence of an agreed political agenda for the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.
What is unity? What is the objective around which we must unite? Obviously we are not a football team. We are people, members at a certain time in history, who have taken a certain course on their path, have raised certain matters, have guided their actions in a certain direction, have put certain questions and have sought answers. The type of unity we need must be a resolution to be one in order to achieve given aims. Whatever differences exist among us we must unite our strength towards our common goals. Unity is a means not an end.
Comrades’ differences are not a danger unless they degenerate into factionalism which is a crime in the Pan Africanist Congress. Contradictions force us to reflect on who we are and constantly improve our style of work and articulation of our line. However, our weakness in the PAC is our inability to handle internal contradictions correctly. A member of the Party may bring any issue for debate and consideration. If the idea is not going down well, it could be the time has not come for the introduction of the issue. It could be the wrong idea to introduce. It could be rejected on the basis of lack of sufficient information.
Ma’afrika, we must harness the power of insight which enables us to see and introduce certain issues in our Party at the right time. We must have order in this Party not chaos and anarchy. The PAC Disciplinary Code guides how we must behave. How we must express ideas and how we must conduct our affairs as the PAC members.
My days in the Pan Africanist Congress as President in this office are nearly through, but my days of service of the African people are not over. In the years ahead, I will never hold a position higher or a covenant more sacred than that of President of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania. But there is no title I will wear more proudly than that of being a Pan Africanist. I must assure you that I will always be a loyal member of this unique political movement. I will always be ready to be deployed by the PAC in any capacity as I have done in the past 45 years.
It took me a long time to become your leader, but I am profoundly grateful for the privilege of having led you. I love the Pan Africanist Congress. It has given so much to our country. I believe it will continue to do so in the future. I am intensely and immensely proud of this Party, and proud of you.
The African people deserve better. It is your duty to fight for their economic liberation and social emancipation. As you deliberate in this National Congress of the Pan Africanist Congress and elect leaders; my message is: “Leaders are servants who serve their people to the best of their ability. Leaders are not bosses. They must not be above the masses but must be with the masses.”
Izwe Lethu! Shango Lashu! Tiki ra Hina! Lefatshe la Rona! Afrika! The LAND IS OURS! AFRIKA!