We Must Be The Glue That Holds The Organisation Together
The ANC cannot fulfil its historic mission if it is divided. It has a responsibility not only to be united itself, but also to unite society behind a programme of fundamental social and economic change. This has been its central strength over many decades of struggle, first in defeating apartheid and then in building a new democratic state that has had significant success in improving the lives of millions of people.
Its ability to unite society is significantly diminished. The divisions within the organisation and among its leaders are well ventilated in the public space. We are an organisation riddled with factions. Despite the good work that continues to be done by cadres and deployees in all spheres, the ANC’s programme in government and in communities lacks sufficient coherence and focus.
Throughout its history the ANC has been most effective when it has drawn a variety of social forces towards it – when it has mobilised broad fronts in pursuit of common objectives. Today this no longer seems to be a priority. In fact, we seem to be pushing many important constituencies away from us.
We now have the uncomfortable situation that broad fronts are consolidating against us.
The ANC is meant to unite, not divide.
Unless it acts with determination and urgency to address these challenges, the organisation is likely not only to lose further electoral support, but also to lose its ability to lead society in a popular programme of change. In responding to these challenges, the ANC must adhere to its values. Its unity must be premised on honesty, courage and principle. Unity should never be used as a cover for misconduct or as a reason not to confront those implicated in wrongdoing.
The manner of engagement is particularly important. The political culture of the ANC requires that comrades accept each other’s bona des, avoid divisive language and name-calling and be prepared to engage honestly with each other’s views. At a time when there is great distress – even anger – inside and outside the movement, it is the responsibility of all cadres to ensure that they are respectful, honest and constructive in their engagement.
This is a responsibility that rests in great measure on the leadership of the movement and the Alliance, but ultimately it is the duty of each and every one of us to take responsibility for the cohesion and effectiveness of the organisation. Each and every one of us needs to understand that in our conduct and in our contribution we should continue being the glue that holds the movement together. We must weigh every action and pronouncement to ensure that it unites rather than divides. We need to constantly ask ourselves what it is that we must do to build a united and cohesive movement that is honest, courageous and principled.
Extract from Chris Hani Memorial Lecture by Cyril Ramaphosa, 23 April 2017