OUTSIDE the school named after one of the greatest reconcilers in modern South Africa, Desmond Mpilo Tutu and ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe loudly beat the unity drum.
Mantashe urged a smooth leadership transition, like the one that took place when Nelson Mandela succeeded Oliver Tambo as president of the party of liberation. He also urged the SACP not to walk away from the tripartite alliance. If it did, he warned, the ANC and the party would lose power.
“The party is an independent partner in the alliance. So it’s about working together in defence of the revolution. “If they leave it means the time for revolution is over and we go our different ways. That is very risky in terms of losing power (for) both of us as the ANC and the party. It would be good about self-esteem (going it alone) but the outcome would be disastrous.”
A former SACP chairperson, he added that the ANC and SACP had gone through tough and good times together. “My own conviction is to ensure that the ANC and the party work together. We are critical of each other we are together in the revolution.” Mantashe was speaking on Wednesday night after he had delivered the Oliver Tambo memorial lecture in the school hall in the Paarl township that spawned South African and world long jump king Luvo Manyonga.
During the lecture he had spoken in favour of ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa succeeding the outgoing Jacob Zuma. Asked about this, he said he preferred a managed transition. “Because every time we allow succession to go freely we run into chaos.” He cited cases from the ANC’s history when a poorly managed transition had led to chaos. One such matter, he said, was when Josiah Gumede was removed as president and succeeded by Pixley ka Isaka Seme.
“That was the most disastrous period of the ANC precisely because the class contradictions that led to that removal reflected after the removal.” There was also disaster when the youth league of the young radicals Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Tambo, Walter Sisulu forced out Dr AB Xuma and brought in Doctor JS Moroka.
“There was a disaster but when Oliver Tambo handed over to Mandela smoothly there was stability. Mandela handed over to comrade Thabo and there was stability. “When there was contestation in Polokwane there was a crisis. That crisis is rolling over to today.
We say the ANC cannot with all that experience allow itself to get into the mud with their eyes open and hope that it will be lucky to get to the other side clean.” On a question as to why he never mentioned the other ANC presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Mantashe said he was principled.