The critique “Follow tradition for unity – congresses of St Albans and Cicirha provided a model” (SD March 4) by Mluleki Dlelanga of the Young Communist League of SA refers.
My learned friend, Mluleki, with whom I served in the Progress Youth Alliance of the Eastern Cape some years ago, presents a very biased analysis in his article.
It is wrong from the outset.
He seems to insinuate that friendly comrades who have worked together progressively may not or should not avail themselves for the same ANC position.
The reality is that the term of office of the ANC’s executive committee in the Eastern Cape has come to an end.
The presiding officers will dissolve the PEC and declare all positions vacant and available after reports have been presented and adopted by congress.
After that branches of the ANC will have the right to nominate one or more candidate for each position and, based on the number of nominations, a vote will be cast.
So right from the beginning, it’s important to clarify as a false notion the idea that one contesting another is wrong.
Any interested comrades have to be nominated, avail themselves and, if the need arises, contest for each of the positions. That is the constitutional process of the ANC.
Mluleki goes further to suggest that because the Eastern Cape has a rich history of involvement in the body politic of the ANC nationally, leadership should just be arranged on the basis of retaining those already in office. Any attempt to insert any other ideas or contestation is an attempt to divide the province and to betray that rich history we have. So much for contesting in the national space as a mob.
This is utterly wrong.
Yes, it is preferable and ideal that through lobbying and persuasion consensus can be reached so that there is no need for contest, but to suggest that when contest ensues, we have degenerated and are betraying the tradition that we have is simply wrong.
Mluleki himself took part in a contest in 2009 when he canvassed for the election of the 44-year-old Phumulo Masualle against the more senior Mcebisi Jonas who was deputised by Gugile Nkwinti.
In 1952, James Moroka replaced AB Xuma as ANC president after a contest for what was expected to be Xuma’s second term, and that never disrupted the ANC and it’s history.
“Tradition is abused to advance a factional position” – where was this tradition when Mluleki was elected as national secretary when he had never been deputy national secretary or even an official of the Young Communists League of SA?
He was not even directly elected as a member of the YCSLA central committee but a provincial secretary, like all the other eight provincial secretaries.
It was not as if he was even the most senior so we see must see this for what it is and expose it.
To demonstrate further the level of factionalism evident in my good friend’s article, is the comparison made between certain lobby groups – two, he suggests.
The one lobby group is apparently lobbying for leadership change and is reduced to a group that “does not care about unity or the status quo (whatever that means) and has no political will to engage”.
Pity we are not privy to such a level of detail as he seems to be.
This group apparently represents “tribalism, regionalism and character assassination with anti-communist undertones” (I wish this had been clarified and explained further).
And how I wish we could all be exposed to these villains – they are too problematic for the ANC.
Mluleki reduces them to nothing short of a “religious group” (whatever that means also).
Then on the other hand, is another group which is calling for continuity and change. It is apparently raising ideological arguments, though Mluleki falls short in assisting us as to what these ideological arguments are.
This group is supposedly for unity in the ANC, stable governance, fighting corruption, fighting gatekeeping and ending factionalsim.
What a progressive faction.
Clearly the group to choose out of the two is the latter, though Mluleki wants us to believe he is being objective.
He also suggests in his article that the “so-called” leader of that grouping is a unifier. Yes, he is leading a faction but is still a a “unifier”.
As I read through the article, I could not help but imagine that both lobby groups had sufficient time to make presentations to Mluleki since he has so much detail. Hence he is able to advise us so wisely.
Lastly, the article suggests that the one candidate has more experience than the other – this being the case because he has served and still serves in the party structures as against some former deputy chairman of the ANC Youth League.
Now this gives it away. But let’s not go there and rather stick to exposing the mischief.
An attempt to contrast the ANC provincial chairperson and secretary is made here with a bias towards the chairperson.
The chairperson is accorded credibility, a track record and credentials though the only thing mentioned are his party credentials.
Nothing about him rising through the ranks of the ANC, nothing about him serving in the PEC of the ANC for eight years as chairperson and the national executive committee of the ANC for almost 10 years.
In fact, Mluleki does not do justice in advancing a discussion about his preferred candidate.
With nothing about experience as an ANC leader, but solely for the sake of his party credentials, he must be given a third term as ANC chairperson.
Mluleki wants to change the political preparatory school of the ANC from being the ANCYL to being the SACP, just so that individuals who have served in party ranks should be elected if they are contested against by some former youth leaguer.
As members and leaders of the ANCYL we will not allow this.
For that matter, the only preparatory school we know for the ANC is the ANCYL.
I am not anti-communist but reckless and irresponsible leaders have over time, evoked unwarranted animosity and fed a destructive anti-communist sentiment in the ANC.
The ANC and the SACP are political allies who enjoy a fraternal relationship with an approach of constructive criticism for one another. They have struggled together through time.
This relationship arises out of the sweat and blood of struggle and must be kept as such for our total emancipation.
We must refuse to allow people to subjectively reduce the party to an ANC league when it suits them.
The party of socialism remains the vanguard of the working class, not a lobby group within the ANC or a preparatory school for ANC leadership.
This is a destructive and divisive approach to the leadership discussion.
It is mischievous to suggest that ANC leaders who are members and leaders of the SACP must be untouchable because of the risk of facing a heckling from the YCLSA.
This abuse will not be sustained for long and feeds into anti-communist hatred.
ANC leaders are equal and the ANC will continue with its multi-class character, communists included.
Anti-communism is reactionary but an anti-communist sentiment argument is always advanced even without exposing what it is exactly that makes us arrive at such a conclusion.
We would’ve loved to understand what is anti-communist about the character of the current ANC PEC and its individual members that warrants this communist protection and defence from our comrade.
If it is to hold a view or preference of either change or continuity of leadership, then there is nothing anti-communist about that.
In the evolution of the ANC ideas have always been a battleground and this has never disrupted the ANC.
My comrade can relax, there is no communist attack. Perhaps what there could be here is a limited understanding of what it means to be communist.
We will deliberately resist any temptation to delve into the nitty-gritties of what may have prompted my good comrade to apply an approach to this subject different from the one applied by the SACP in the province for fear of falling into the same trap of rumour mongery and gossip peddling. Mediocrity must be exposed for what it is.
Yanga Zicina is a former provincial secretary of Sasco in the Eastern Cape and an executive committee member of the ANC’s Chris Hani branch in the Intsika Yethu sub-region of the Chris Hani region. He writes in his personal capacity