AFRICAN leaders used the ANC’s gala dinner in Mangaung in the Free State on Saturday night to congratulate the party on reaching its 100-year milestone and to give advice on how to handle some of the country’s problems.
Zine George and Mayibongwe Maqhina
Former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda warned South Africa against repeating the same mistakes that other African countries like Zimbabwe had made in resolving the land issue.
“To you comrade [Jacob] Zuma, you have more serious problems than any of us – the land question. Please remember two wrongs can never make a right,” he said. “Discuss with leaders, white leaders, the problem of land. The situation here is serious.”
Kaunda was addressing hundreds of dignitaries attending the gala dinner held at the former Vista University grounds. More than 40 former and current African statesmen attended the event, as well as Jesse Jackson from the United States.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni praised the ANC for making the continent proud by introducing a plan to instill non-racialism through the Freedom Charter.
“The way you handled the issue of racism – the Freedom Charter – that was a master stroke when you said it does not matter who you are, whether you are black or white.”
He also credited the party for ending tribal wars. “We salute you for transforming the struggle. The ANC galvanised all these tribal struggles into a national struggle.”
Struggle stalwart and former Robben Island inmate Ahmed Kathrada nearly broke down in tears as he recalled his arrest in the then Orange Free State in 1955. Kathrada was on a visit but was arrested as “Indians” were not allowed to visit the province as only whites and black labourers were allowed.
He also recalled how a former treason trialist, Vuyisile Mini, was hanged for refusing to give evidence against another Robben Island inmate, Wilton Mkwayi.
Zambian president Michael Sata said the ANC had remained the same over the century.
“A hundred years is nothing, but what is important is its achievement of the 100 years,” he said.
Mozambique President Armando Guebuza said: “When we talk about the ANC in this part of the world, we would talk of a movement that for the first time after [the colonisation of Africa] organised themselves politically, responding to challenges of the moment.”
The ANC is Africa’s oldest liberation movement and in its 100-year history has had 12 presidents. It is an achievement praised by many African leaders whose liberation movements have in some instances changed names and others ceased to exist.