Buzzwords meaningless with no action, meeting told
Using Human Rights Day to lash out at his own government yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas slated the ANC’s stance on radical economic transformation, saying it was yet another slogan for a party now becoming known for “sloganeering”.
Speaking at a Langa Massacre commemoration event in Uitenhage, Jonas said truth and education were more important than owning mines, and buzzwords were of little use when the slogans of the past had never seen any meaningful action taking place but were, instead, simply being replaced by new slogans.
During a hard-hitting speech to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Langa Massacre, Jonas said the ANC used to be an organisation which spoke truth to power, but, today, the truth had not yet been spoken about how the ANC had lost Nelson Mandela Bay.
Speaking to about 400 people at the commemoration for the victims at the Babs Madlakane Community Centre in Uitenhage, Jonas said the people must guard their rights and freedom.
“We tend to think human rights are certain in democracy,” he said.
The event was attended by families of the Langa victims.
On March 21 1985 – the 25th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 – apartheid police gunned down more than 21 activists on their way to a banned funeral.
Jonas said the ANC had become an organisation that produced slogan after slogan without accounting for what each slogan had achieved.
He said questions had to be asked as to what radical economic transformation would do for the masses.
“We are misleading ourselves if we keep talking about radical economic transformation without talking about uplifting 51 million people,” Jonas said.
“Radical economic transformation should not be an elite programme that seeks to replace white monopoly with black monopoly.”
Addressing the issue of nationalisation, which was raised by both Cosatu and the SACP at the event, Jonas said: “Monopoly is bad – even if it is state monopoly or white monopoly – when it does not solve the problem of inequalities.” He said true radical economic transformation could only be achieved through what the Freedom Charter declared. Transformation had to be about the needs of the people, such as quality education and healthcare.
“We need to have our own educational centres of excellence in townships,” Jonas said.
He referred repeatedly to the words of revolutionary leader Amilcar Cabral, who said: “Tell no lies, claim no easy victories.”
He said the ANC needed to be a truthful organisation if it wanted to regain the trust of the people.
“No one has told the truth about why the ANC lost the Nelson Mandela Bay metro.
“We must go back to our people and tell them the truth about why we lost the metro,” Jonas said.
He said many people felt left out of the organisation because the focus had become more about leaders, and the leaders had to stop meeting behind closed doors. “Liberation movements all over the world die because they reach a period where they become about celebrating their leaders,” Jonas said.
“We cannot push aside Sanco or the SACP when they are pointing out errors and start saying, ‘you are another party’.
“We must remember that the ANC is the heritage of the people of this country.”
While every speaker before him applauded Andile Lungisa as the new Nelson Mandela Bay regional chairman, Jonas acknowledged the entire regional executive structure that had been elected, without singling out Lungisa.
Lungisa has been ordered by the ANC’s top leadership to resign and resume his duties as a member of the party’s Eastern Cape executive committee.
Jonas did, however, acknowledge former regional chairman Nceba Faku, who was present.
The event was also addressed by Uitenhage Massacre Foundation chairman Nicholas Malgas, who criticised Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture MEC Pemmy Majodina for trying to move the event to King William’s Town.
“We understand she is referred to as DJ Pemza – this event is not about DJs,” he said.
Malgas criticised the provincial government, claiming it had chosen to prioritise the Bhisho Massacre which occurred years after Langa.
“We have [had] the dwarf monument [for Langa victims] since 1985, while the Bhisho Massacre has a proper monument,” he said.
Lungisa said he would fight for the families of the Langa Massacre victims to be given bursaries and other forms of support.