Image: Khalid Sayed
By Wesley Seale
Khalid Sayed last week wrote an article indirectly slighting President Jacob Zuma. One is not sure why the ANC Youth League leader chose to write about ANC matters on the ‘Daily Maverick’. Immediately, this author wrote a response and true to form, ‘Daily Maverick’ refused to publish the reply because it did not serve its anti-Zuma agenda. As 2017 approaches, we must become aware of the White media and White monopoly capital’s attempt to skew the ANC’s internal politics.
Here is the response in full.
On his first visit to Cuba after being released from prison, it is told how Madiba received a warm welcome by the people of Havana. The crowds were going wild while the tall and upright Nelson Mandela stood waving to crowds. Madiba, it is said, revelled in this admiration of the crazy crowds.
But soon, as they entered Havana stadium, Madiba realised that the ecstasy was not about him but for the man quietly sitting next to him. Yes, Cubans had come out to greet a great son of Africa but even more so they came to greet their Comrade Leader, Fidel Castro.
Admiration of leaders is neither an exclusively Right nor Left phenomenon. Rather we have come to understand the role that leaders play in encapsulating the virtues and values of the movement. Khaled, Parks, Aung San, Ngoyi, Tubman, Nyakasikana, Ramona and many others were revered because they symbolised the dreams and desires of the movements which they led. I purposefully use only women examples as we end Women’s month.
It is unfortunate that the leader of the African National Congress Youth League in the Western Cape, Khalid Sayed, misses the deep appreciation of the story of Kang Hyong-kwon. In fact, Sayed epitomises everything that is wrong with the ANC today.
It was not the dear leader that Kang was clinging to. It was not enslavement to a “noxious phenomenon” that Kwang was suffering from. Instead, it was the values and virtues of the revolution that these leaders symbolised, or at least are meant to symbolise, that was what Kwang was holding onto. In fact, he held these values so dear that he would even forsake his own daughter! Hence he was praised.
While I appreciate and respectfully acknowledge that the understanding of images (of leaders especially) is not necessarily present in the Islamic tradition in which Sayed is schooled, it would do him well to understand this role of images and especially leaders as symbols. Sayed’s lack of appreciation of the depth of the Kwang story points us directly to the lack of appreciation for that which is deep and true in the ANC today.
The values and virtues of the ANC, the return of our people’s land (on which the ANC was founded), justice, freedom, equality, fairness, comradeship and loyalty have given way to political expediency and exploitation of people. Whereas in the ANC of yesteryear, talent was groomed and acknowledged, today, with Sayed’s generation, the ANC, especially in the Western Cape, allows itself to be literally run by criminals.
In 2005, the then Deputy-President of the ANC was asked by the National General Council of the ANC to return actively to his position as Deputy-President of the ANC. Whether he had volunteered to “step aside” or a decision was made by the National Executive Committee of the ANC to suspend him is not important for our purposes. What is important is that the branches of the ANC, in keeping with the grassroots and democratic ethos of the ANC, decided then that the organisation had to remain true to its values and principles, foremost among these being when accused, a person remains innocent until proven otherwise.
In almost contrast with what happened in 2005 and in keeping with the Leninist principle of democratic centralism, the lower structures of the ANC, in 2008, accepted the decision of the then NEC of the ANC to recall the President of the Republic. This decision was soon followed by the recall of the Premier of the Western Cape. In both instances, the NEC felt it duty bound to go to the structures of the ANC.
Yet despite this adherence to democratic centralism, the ANC in hindsight must admit today that neither the recall of the President of the Republic nor the Premier in the Western Cape did the ANC or the country any good. In other words, whilst the principle of democratic centralism fundamentally safeguards against the individualisation of the movement, or as Sayed puts it the “noxious phenomenon”, the organisation has been able to recognise its strategic mistake because of what these leaders had come to symbolise.
More than popularity, it is principle, that both these comrades were treated unfairly, that matures the reflection of the ANC on its decision. However, it is unforgivable or downright immature for the organisation to repeat the same mistake.
In 2014, just before the National and Provincial Elections, the Muslim Judicial Council requested that the then Provincial Convenor of the ANC Youth League in the Western Cape be removed from his appointed position because of alleged (sectarian) remarks he had made.
The provincial leadership of the ANC, who had been working extremely hard in order to build a solid relationship with the MJC, had to insist that the Convenor remain in his post. Again, though not because of the fact that he was not elected by branches but rather because it saw the immense contribution he played in fostering the values of the ANC in the Western Cape.
The controversy surrounding the then Deputy President of the ANC, the recall of both President and Premier well as the requested recall of the Youth League convenor all point to actions which the ANC has judged to be expedient rather than adhering to its founding virtues.
This lack of principles, more than the slow pace of service delivery, may I suggest, is the reason why voters, starting in the Western Cape and now spreading to the rest of the country, have lost trust in the ANC. Too many ANC deployees and even employees lack the moral compass and integrity of simply doing what is right. Hence the dismal performance of the ANC in the Western Cape.
Yet there remains a fundamental difference between the example of the then Deputy-President of the ANC and the other 3 examples. The Deputy-President was elected by branches, the other 3 were deployees of the ANC.
It is ANC tradition to quote some document. This article is long enough. Nonetheless, it is useful to point Sayed to the reason why Through the Eye of the Needle was written in the first place and where it originated. The document clearly articulates the pre-eminence of the comrade leader.
Wesley Seale is a former member of the ANC Youth League in the Western Cape and currently lectures at the University Currently Known As Rhodes (UCKAR). He writes in his personal capacity.