THE ANC is preparing to aggressively claim the Freedom Charter as its own, 60 years after the pioneering constitutional document was authored in Kliptown in 1955.
“Every Jack and Jill claims the Freedom Charter nowadays, but we know its history,” ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said as the party’s national executive committee (NEC) met yesterday to iron out its January 8th statement, timed to coincide with the ANC’s 103rd anniversary celebrations this weekend.
“This year will be the year of the Freedom Charter. We will look back at the past a bit and we will focus on the future,” Mantashe said.
The NEC met in a posh Sea Point hotel to finalise the statement, which will be read out on its behalf by President Jacob Zuma at a rally in the 52000-seater Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The speech is expected to focus on how the ANC wants to apply the Freedom Charter to its work as the governing party this year.
About 60 buses are set to transport 2500 Nelson Mandela Bay party members and supporters tomorrow evening while others – including businessmen from the region – left earlier this week to join their national leaders on the campaign trail in the Mother City.
The majority of the delegates who will be representing the Eastern Cape hail from the Nelson Mandela Bay and Sarah Baartman regions, according to ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane.
Briefing the media on the hotel’s pool deck while the NEC meeting took place yesterday, Mantashe said the ANC’s policy objectives for the year would be set out on Saturday.
He indicated the governing party was ready to take on the opposition, which has placed it under massive pressure in parliament lately.
Saturday’s speech is also expected to address Western Cape ANC stalwarts’ contribution to the freedom struggle, as the ANC attempts to regain a province and city it once governed, but where it has steadily been eclipsed by the DA since 2006.
Mantashe, who headed for townships in the DA-dominated Swartland municipality in Malmesbury north of Cape Town yesterday afternoon to drum up ANC support, renewed his attacks on the DA-ruled City of Cape Town for the stringent measures it had put in place before allowing the ANC to use the Cape Town Stadium.
He again said the ANC saw these as influx-control measures, but DA national spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said the ANC was just not used to having to abide by the law.
She also cited service delivery figures to show how much better Cape Town fared than other cities.
“Voters have endorsed this good governance by strengthening the DA’s electoral mandate in each election since we took office.
“We accept these numbers sit uncomfortably with the ANC, including the fact that they are in a province where due diligence needs to be followed in securing a venue for their event.
“We nevertheless welcome the ANC to a province where there are no favours and everyone has to do everything by the book, even the president,” Van Damme said.
Qoboshiyane said that as Zuma would be outlining the party’s plans and priorities for the year, he anticipated he would shed light on how far the country was in terms of fully implementing the National Development Plan.
“[I am also] awaiting more on rural development and agrarian [reform], energy and the capacity [at] which we will guarantee more investment,” Qoboshiyane said. Crime was another vital issue that would be addressed. “We need crime to be eradicated and weeded out of society.
“[We expect] a call for the country’s unity and common consciousness. There is a lot of polarity and vulgar insults [that] are gaining momentum. Rude, unsavoury language [erodes] decency.
“We are to be directed towards elections in 2016 [The] Western Cape will be painted black, green and gold this week.”
Bay ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said members and supporters from the region would be heading to the birthday bash by bus or train.
“We will be leaving late Friday afternoon,” he said.
Members of the Bay National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) have already made their way to Cape Town for the celebrations.
Litemba Singapi, an adviser to a Nafcoc faction in the Bay, said they felt it was pertinent to celebrate the organisation which had done a lot for black business owners.
“If you look at South Africa today compared to 21 years ago, you can’t say nothing’s been done. Black business people have been making strides and getting opportunities,” he said.
“Today, there are black millionaires and billionaires. We are not taking that for granted.
“I know the movement has its challenges, but I will always be an activist of the ANC. I’m where I am because of the ANC.” Singapi said some of the Nafcoc leaders would join door-to-door campaigns as well as a fundraising dinner.
Mantashe thanked the minstrels for postponing the parade to the 17th, claiming the DA city authorities had tried to engineer a clash between the two events.
A contingent of the minstrels, led by Cape Cultural Events and Carnival Committee president Richard Stemmet, will attend the ANC celebrations, but many minstrels will not.
Cape Town DA mayor Patricia de Lille earlier called on Stemmet to account for millions of rands taxpayers paid to the minstrels committee for a parade which had not yet taken place.
– Jan-Jan Joubert and Rochelle de Kock