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ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Dear ANC Delegate

People of SA are gripped with great angst about the future of their country. There are multiple crises that constrain the development potential of our country. I wish to list some of these priorities for your consideration: the economy and jobs, corruption, crime and violence, cost of living, energy security and social security. I hope you will find the opportunity to discuss some of these issues during your conference. The year 2022 has been littered with ANC regional and provincial conferences that simply focus on conference credentials and the election of leadership.

Picture: Lukhona Mnguni/Twitter
Picture: Lukhona Mnguni/Twitter

There have been a dearth of ideas and intellectual rigour in your organisation over the past 15 years. At some point there was a demonisation of those who apply their minds to issues, termed “clever blacks”. Even in your party structures, such people were cast to the margins of participation and political leadership. This began to destroy the ethos of the party’s commitment to build a “non-sexist, nonracial and prosperous society”. There was a clear departure from your seminal document Through the Eye of a Needle. This left the party in limbo, ceasing to be “the leader of society” and opening itself up to have some of its structures being led by crooks, indecisive and unethical leaders.

For this reason, you may have been among the delegates that decided ten years ago on “the decade of the cadre”. It is time to reflect on the quality of the cadre in the ANC since the Mangaung national conference in 2012. Many of your leaders have lamented the quality of membership in your party. This means the last decade has been wasted. The ANC has become notorious for good diagnosis and poor implementation of its resolutions. This is what will obliterate the party’s existence.

Stop nursing your divisions so much that you become scared to clean your own house. Start acknowledging that the quality of leadership you choose this weekend will determine whether you will remain a majority party after the 2024 elections. South Africans are no longer interested in your gambling with compromised leaders because it materially affects the country.

I have no doubt that if you take gambles this weekend, South Africans will look beyond the ANC towards 2024. While you tear the movement of Oliver Tambo apart, the citizens will refuse for you to tear the country apart along with it.

Lukhona Mnguni, Head of Policy and Research at the Rivonia Circle.


Dear ANC Delegate,

Before you are two choices. One responds to South Africans’ increasingly desperate pleas about their material conditions. The other advances your own partisan party-political aspirations. I hope that you know which is the right one to make.

We are at a pivotal moment in our history. Poverty, unemployment and inequality reign supreme where the constitution should; South Africans are disillusioned about the grand promises of the past and are looking elsewhere for solutions; institutions of government continue to fail the most vulnerable; and businesses are struggling to thrive under tough global economic conditions worsened by the seemingly never-ending energy crisis.

It is all our hope that both the policy and electoral outcomes of this weekend’s conference will herald in a new era of an open, responsive and accountable ANC.

At the top of your minds should be the restoration of democratic institutions weakened by state capture, the failure of government to realise the achievement of the socioeconomic rights enshrined in our constitution, the rampant corruption and impunity of public officials and the government’s inability to address these. A reckoning is upon us.

We hope too, that this conference will shed the ANC’s ambivalence to the judiciary and that it will come out in full defence of the guardians of our constitutional democracy. Courts and governments are designed not as rivals but companions in the achievement of our constitutional ideals. Where government seeks to achieve those goals, courts will only intervene where it strays beyond its limits. When the courts intervene constantly, the fault lies not with them but with the means that government has chosen.

Remember the words of the ANC NWC to Jack Simons, chair of the constitutional committee, in 1986: “How do we frame a constitution which can translate the slogan ‘People’s Power’ into reality by making a framework of government that ensures the government will always be subject to the people?” Even in exile, the constitutional mission was clear.

Now, yours is to form a government not above, but subject to the people’s will as captured in the constitution that you both drafted, adopted and have sought to uphold. People’s power is realised when the people are in full control of their destiny.

May you be guided by this glorious revolutionary history unto good choices for the benefit of all South Africans, united in our diversity.

Lawson Naidoo, Executive Secretary, Casac


Dear ANC delegate, 

This weekend you will be debating and adopting policies that will guide the ANC and — depending on election outcomes — the government between 2023 and the ANC’s next congress at the end of 2027.

Five years ... By the time we get to 2027 the world will be facing even greater challenges and crises than we do even during these very difficult times. In particular the climate crisis and global warming, which is already linked to 5-million deaths a year internationally, will be adversely influencing political stability, mass migrations, health and human rights — including here in SA. It’s going to be a rough world to be poor in.

We need to start to prepare for this new world reality now.

The ANC has always claimed to be a movement concerned about the poor and oppressed. That’s why it is important to put social justice at the centre of your debates — not self-interest or party-interest as has become the norm. I appeal to you not to be so consumed by factional leadership battles that you ignore the desperation and despair that faces so many people in SA, and the oven-ready, feasible and affordable interventions that could assist them.

Your factional battles, and the grand corruption that underlies them, have already caused many deaths and damaged countless lives. The billions that have been stolen could have contributed to a better life for many and moved us far away from an apartheid legacy that still haunts us, for example in the shocking pit toilets in many schools.

At your 55th Congress I appeal to you to stop building ideological sandcastles like the National Health Insurance (NHI) policy, when what is needed is the mobilisation of resources and skilled people to fix the health system on the ground. After Covid-19 the strains on the health system, and health workers, are greater than ever.

People who work in the health system can tell you exactly what needs to be done. Listen to them!

I appeal to you to do practical things like setting a time frame for introducing a Basic Income Grant, as recommended by the evidence and the vast majority of experts.

Take steps to make safe and nutritious food and water, both constitutional rights, affordable and available to the millions who are denied them. 

People across the world are desperately in need of the type of visionary, moral and ethical leadership the ANC was once respected for! It’s in your power to rise to the challenge again ... or not.

Mark Heywood, Maverick Citizen editor, social justice activist and co-founder of the TAC

Lebogang Mulaisi. Cosatu’s head of policy. 21 September 2022. Picture: Supplied
Lebogang Mulaisi. Cosatu’s head of policy. 21 September 2022. Picture: Supplied

Dear ANC Delegates

The 55th elective conference is taking place at the most critical point in our society’s history.

Support for the ruling party has been in deep decline since the first democratic election in 1994. The political climate is probably best described as toxic and fraught with deep divisions within and across political parties.

The country views the deep socioeconomic challenges, the decline in growth, the energy insecurity, the public sector wage deadlock, and the dysfunctional state of state-owned entities as a direct crisis of the ruling party. This conference requires members of the ANC to reflect deeply on the fundamental objectives of the party and its vision as espoused by the founding fathers in 1912.

At its core, the ANC was founded to roll back the draconian British colonial law which facilitated the dispossession of land from Africans to European settlers through the South Africa Act of 1909 and the Natives Land Act of 1912. If the founding fathers John Langalibalele Dube, Pixley ka Isaka Seme and Sol Plaatje, were with us today, would they be proud of the movement and what it has become?

TheFreedom Charter proclaimed that: “The rights of the people shall be the same, regardless of race, colour or sex. All bodies of minority rule, advisory boards, councils and authorities shall be replaced by democratic organs of self-government... Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land redivided among those who work it to banish famine and land hunger. The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers”.

Fast forward to today, SA is a country with deep inequalities which resemble two nations in one. One that has a majority of the wealth apportioned to a minority of the population and another which is extremely poor and African in the majority. 

Factionalism is the biggest threat to the congress movement and its renewal. Leadership battles among the ruling elite, fuelled by personal gain, alienate the ANC from its mass base and its objectives for a non-racist, non-sexist society for all.

The delegates at this conference have the tough task of choosing leaders to unite a clearly divided party and nation. They must choose leaders that will deliver on land redistribution, free higher education, and the transformation of the economy.

Window dressing on key policy questions cannot be allowed to continue. Society no longer has the patience to wait. Deep economic challenges roll back the progress made in 1994 to enhance social cohesion and social solidarity across races. Xenophobia and hate crimes are characteristic of a society in deep turmoil and at war with itself.

Good luck to the delegates. Remember that history has no blank pages. I wish you well in your robust engagement. May the ANC live long. Amandla!

Lebogang Mulaisi, Cosatu Head of Policy unit.

Picture: GALLO IMAGES/Oupa Bopa
Picture: GALLO IMAGES/Oupa Bopa

Dear ANC Delegate, 

As you all gather for the next few days somewhere in and around Nasrec, please do keep in mind that the leather jackets most of you will be wearing will generate enough electricity to get Soweto out of Stage 6 to Stage 1 or 2 of load-shedding. 

Those of you that are not suspended or banned, or who will be by the time you read this, and could still be even after conference, must please keep in mind that the choices you make this weekend will not only affect the 4,000 or so of you gathered there.

South Africans, and indeed the remaining members of the ANC, will have to live with your choices or negotiated settlement for another five years.

You can either give South Africans (those that care or understand that the reason you’re gathered there is not because of a year-end party or team building) new hope of a better country, or make them feel even worse than they have felt for the last few years.

While you’re there in the South (of Johannesburg) please support township businesses. Don’t only eat catered food, rather eat in the various township-owned establishments where you can arrive unannounced and order food with ordinary patrons, or just bring your own pre-packed skhafthini. Don’t eat from other comrades’ skhafthini, any type of skhafthini. 

Try not to spend all the money at Konka. January is around the corner and salaries must be paid. You’re not just in a tent at Nasrec in hot weather, but you will, now and then, be in the dark like most South Africans.

There are no amount of blue lights that will save you from the darkness we are all in;  no amount of convoys will shield you from the potholes while you are out there, and not enough bulletproof vests and bodyguards can keep you safe.

But the decisions you take, resolutions you make and policies you implement after this weekend will determine which of you will join the unemployed millions of South Africans out there.

David Kau, veteran South African comedian. 

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