Most news reports and analyses over the past week reached the same conclusion that the recent outcomes of the ANC Provincial General Councils, most of which misrepresented the outcomes of Branch General Meetings is a result of President Kgalema Motlanthe not campaigning for the Presidency or any leadership position in the African National Congress. Whilst superficially valid, this supposition does not hold water because in the ANC and all normal society, recognition and acknowledgment of leadership capabilities and deciding on the vital questions of when, where, what and who to lead should be the function on those who will be led post election of those leaders. It can never be correct that any leader of the ANC will actively campaign for leadership positions, encouraging and promising incentives to those who will rally behind him/her to take leadership responsibilities because such comes with so many pecks and benefits in the ANC. True Leadership is earned through one's conduct, not by attracting tribal, regional and corruption loyalties.
It is unfortunate that towards and post ANC 52nd National Conference in Polokwane, a strong and relevant tradition of the ANC on leadership identification and election has been eroded by a strong culture of factional lobbying, campaign, dispesantion of patronage and promises of incentives for those who will rally behind those campaigning. This in itself is organisatinally apocalyptic, because it opens space for many organisational ills such as corruption, mediocrity, tribalism, patronage, regionalism, sexism and ageism. These will of course be consequent of campaigned for leadership positions because in the election ramp, those campaigning will seek tribal, regional, and patronage loyalty and support aimed at consolidating their power base. This notion altogether defeats the reason why the ANC was formed 100 years ago to unite all Africans against racist colonial domination.
Now, as an embodiment of true traditions of and organisational democracy in the ANC, Comrade President Kgalema Motlanthe refused to be drawn into factional wars and leadership campaigns for the 53rd National Conference. This he did even when leaders of provinces, the leagues and distinguished individuals in society called on him to rescue and save the ANC from mediocrity and further degeneration. Comrade Motlanthe refused to be drawn into elections campaign for the ANC 53rd National Conference even when the incumbent President went on an aggressive campaign for re-election, visiting the Eastern Cape for an absurd number of times, sometime for hilarious purposes, sometimes tents falling on him, in the effort to win votes. Comrade Kgalema refused to degenerate into a street fighter who would do everything for personal glory and immediate self gratification. He did not do so because he knows that campaigning for leadership positions in the ANC comes at the expense of important and irreplaceable organisational values and practices that have kept the movement together for more than 100 years.
President Kgalema Motlanthe is needed to lead the ANC because he is truly a caring and loving man, whose character and personality dovetails what the ANC ought to be. When he was General Secretary of the NUM, he, out of love for education and progress of the previously disadvantaged communities, created a bursary fund to educate children of mineworkers whose meagre salaries could not liberate them and their children from absolute poverty. Long before the talk of Nationalisation of Mines, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe was amongst the first to suggest that the State should take control of some of the Mines and use the proceeds to fund free, quality education for the poor. When the ANC Youth League was dealing with the difficult question of Africans' representation in high skill and technical responsibilities in both the private and public sector, President Kgalema Motlanthe wisely recommended a focused scholarship for South African students, which will take students to the best Universities in the world to attain skills, education and training which will benefit the whole of society in the future.
President Motlanthe makes these innovative and creative interventions because he truly cares about and is concerned about the education of African children. Whether others care about education of the African child is something that leaves a lot to be desired with unjustifiable inaction over those who could not deliver books for teaching and learning in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. The rabid decline and cheapening of South Africa's education systems happens under the supervision of these people, perhaps because they do not see any value in education because education has not added any value into their lives. These are realities we are faced with when it comes to the important question of leadership selection in the ANC 53rd National Conference. President Kgalema Motlanthe is an honorable man of his word, who is not compromised, not conflicted on the important tasks that the ANC and government should confront. He won't advocate for rural development simply because he intends to develop his homestead at the expense of many other important developments. He won't duck and dive from the rule of law because because as a President he knows that he carries an obligation and responsibility to inspire citizens' confidence in the rule of law and Constitutional democracy.
Most importantly, Comrade President Kgalema Motlanthe is not conservative and will never do anything that tries to preserve useless and irrelevant truths of the past. He acknowledges the vitality of upward mobility and mordern better ways in terms of ideas and means to confront social, economic and political challenges. He will never resuscitate reactionary cultural practices and norms to further divide the country on the important questions of what is to be done judicially, legally, economically, socially and politically. This he appreciates because the ANC, South Africa and the world are getting younger, more knowledgeable and importantly those born in 1994, the year of South Africa's democratic dispensation will be voting or the first time in 2014. This is not insignificant because throughout the world, liberation movements confront massive challenges post 20 years of political independence.
All these important features and vital incompetable aspects about President Kgalema Motlanthe might and will be ignored by some of the delegates to the 53rd National Conference of the ANC on the basis that 1) he does not speak the same language as some of the delegates, 2) he does not come from the province/region where the delegates are from, 3) has not promised anyone a Ministerial position or easy access to business deals, 4) has not promised anyone to instal them as provincial leaders or Premiers post Conference, and 5) has not hopped into election ramp to promise communities things which he won't or can't do. This does not make him an irrelevant, less important and unseasoned leader, it instead makes him the most perfect candidate for the Presidency of the ANC who will unite all people of South Africa to confront the massive challenges and crises of poverty, unemployment and inequalities. This needs delegates of the ANC to rise above mediocrity, tribalism, regionalism, factionalism, patronage, and elect President Kgalema Motlanthe to lead the ANC as its President post 53rd National Conference. Any other outcome will never help the ANC, but will instead cause further divisions in the ANC and society and this will make it impossible for the ANC to meaningfully impact on their lives. Kgalema is the only hope and the most vital embodiment of organisational democracy needed to take the ANC forward. He does not sacrifice principle for political convenience.
Floyd Shivambu - economic freedom fighter