Struggle Stalward Stephanie Kemp Resigns from the ANC

November 15, 2008

ANC, Featured, The ANC debate

To: Terressa Mthembu

Interim Secretary

ANC Veterans League November, 2008.

Dear Comrade,

Thank you for the invitation to attend the inaugural 1st Provincial Conference of the KZN African National Congress Veterans’ League on 22nd November.

I am 67 years old and I was recruited into the South African Communist Party in Cape Town in 1962. I formally joined the ANC in 1969after the Morogoro Conference opened membership to non-Africans.

After all these decades, I regret that the situation that has arisen compels me to resign from the ANC and the SACP.  Over several years and from my position on the PWC of the KZN SACP until 2006 I watched and

listened with increasing dismay as discussion, debate and Party work, were replaced by a systematic campaign of vilification that became increasingly strident in stirring up hatred toward the NDR in general, and the ANC/State President in particular.

We all know how people both inside and outside the Movement took up this divisive rhetoric that had as its parallel the increasing adulation of an individual, comrade Jacob Zuma.

I did raise my concern that the NDR and President Thabo Mbeki and his government who were our allies, were being promoted as the primary enemy. Within that government were many seasoned former and current members of the Central Committee and veterans of uMkhonto we Sizwe. All of them were treated with disdain, both inside the Party and publicly. Only those willing to underwrite the Zuma project escaped the mounting hate speech. I felt that some comrades who had given everything to the struggle, were hounded out of the SACP, even those who did not choose to leave in 1990 as others, including comrade Zuma, did.

We all saw how rapidly this populist rhetoric was taken up in the streets, in ANC meetings and wherever comrade Zuma appeared. T-shirts with the image of the then ANC State President were publicly burned, slogans and songs were heard that were not only insulting to the ANC government and leadership at the time but that encouraged a complete lack of respect for many tried and tested cadres of the Movement.

Particularly distressing was the horrifyingly crass rudeness meted out in this way also to one of the longest serving Communists in the country, 90 year old comrade Epainette Mbeki. The walk-out when the then ANC and State president rose to speak at the memorial for comrade Moses Mabhida at the Harry Gwala stadium has remained undisciplined. The extreme disrespect to the memory of comrade Mabhida was appalling.

Early on in this build-up of the Zuma project, when comrade Zuma himself started the culture of singing “Mshini Wam”, I heard someone phoning in to the radio and saying “Comrade Zuma must just give us the word, we have our AKs buried and can retrieve them.” I did not understand the recklessness of insisting on this particular song. This same theme was later reflected in the Youth League leadership when Julius Malema declared on national TV “We will take up arms and kill to defend Zuma”.

The rhetoric became directed, both by leadership in meetings and on the streets, to anyone who raised the smallest doubt about what Comrade Vavi, perhaps correctly, depicted as a tsunami to ensure Jacob Zuma’s presidency of South Africa.

Trade Union leaders, public intellectuals, State Ministers, judges, the courts, journalists, the media – no one was spared. Populist insult replaced any notion of discussion.

Meetings were frequently overwhelmed by the latest perceived affront to the Zuma project. I could not understand by what revolutionary thinking an individual was earmarked to be a future president no matter what the conditions.

The language became increasingly violent and divisive with huge displays of triumphalism when there were “victories” over “the enemy” such as at the 2005 National General Council and following the not-guilty verdict at Comrade Zuma’s rape trial. I felt that the SACP and ANC I had grown up in would have brought its membership into discussions around the serious gender issues that arose from the rape trial and the issues of personal patronage that arose from the corruption charges against comrade Zuma. Instead there was a sort of tit for tat point scoring of whispered and completely unsubstantiated “counter-charges” particularly impugning the then President of the ANC and of the country. We have all seen the images of triumph and retribution outside the courts where Comrade Zuma appeared. We all saw the burning of Thabo Mbeki ANC t-shirts, we all heard the “Burn the Bitch” slogans.

Not once, did I hear comrade Blade Nzimande, nor comrade Zuma, caution members or those outside creating an increasingly worrying climate of division and hatred, setting comrade against comrade.

The entryist project of a coterie of SACP leaders, led by Blade Nzimande, was well on its way long before Polokwane. The unprecedented scenes of anarchy and disrespect at the ANC Polokwane Conference could have come as no surprise to anyone in this country. As we know, subsequently this violent and anarchic culture affected small and large meetings of the Movement, those that caught the media attention and others – comrades attacking comrades verbally and physically.

The public call for unity from comrade Baleka Mbete the day after Polokwane, rang hollow and opportunistic. Post-Polokwane, under the new Zuma leadership, the situation deteriorated alarmingly.

We know that in Branches, Regions and PECs, in Parliamentary structures, the SABC and other state organs, violent behaviour was fanned by the post-Polokwane leadership’s drive which continues unabated, to oust anyone perceived to be unenthusiastic about the Zuma project.

The question has to be raised – what interests have been served by the ascendancy of the Zuma leadership at Polokwane that has closed down hard fought for democratic space and threatens peace and stability.The vindictive rhetoric against the justice system, individual judges and the courts assumed more threat as leading comrades talked of “blood on the court room floor” and even from comrade Gwede Mantashe,Chairperson of the SACP and now also Secretary-General of the ANC.

In an arrogant disregard for peace and security, leaders including Julius Malema and Zwelinzima Vavi threatened they would “Kill for Zuma”. If the leadership discussed this with them as they claim, it was done in such whispers that neither they nor anyone else heard. No one can be surprised that soon songs emerged, now bringing comrades Lekota and Shilowa into the frame. In Orange Farm, people wearing ANC and SACP t-shirts and including very young people, “our future”, chanted ” Kill Lekota, Kill Shilowa” with complete impunity, indeed taking their cue from the leadership.

Still a silence from comrade Zuma and other leaders, only to be broken by calling erstwhile comrades dogs and snakes. Chillingly – at the Jabulani Stadium, at the end of Comrade Zuma leading the singing of “Mshini Wami”, a comrade dressed in ANC t-shirt and colours was asked by ETV what he thought of the National Convention taking place at Sandton. He replied without any reservation “They are cockroaches – we kill cockroaches. Whether you use a wooden spoon or doom, whatever weapon you use, you kill cockroaches.”

The leaders including leading Communists who took over the ANC at Polokwane have demonstrated that they are a dangerous leadership apparently intent on plunging our country into violence and thuggery and a clear threat to our democracy and to peace. The reckless overnight sacking of the state president and SADC mediator at the very moment that there was the first hard-won break-through in Zimbabwe seemed unbelievable in its reckless disregard for South Africa’s national interests. Images of Rwanda, east DRC, Kenya and Zimbabwe loom large. Zanufication seems well underway.

My political beliefs and values were forged and tempered by stalwarts of the struggle who are no longer alive. This Party, that has taken control of the ANC, is not the Party of Joe Slovo, Alex la Guma, Yusuf Dadoo or Chris Hani.

I am proud of our achievements in bringing about the end of apartheid and of the gains made over the past 15 years laying the foundation for freedom. I believe there are many good comrades, including young comrades, who remain in the ranks of the ANC and SACPbut who are not willing to sacrifice our heritage for power, position, patronage and financial gain. No doubt many comrades, like me, find it difficult to turn our backs on the devotion we feel for the Movement which sacrificed much in the struggle for the liberation of our country and its people. I hope comrades will look objectively at the concrete situation and regroup in the newly formed Congress of the People which has promised a return to the values necessary for taking our country forward.

Stephanie Kemp

Durban

Cc. Provincial Secretary ANC
Provincial Secretary SACP

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4 Responses to “Struggle Stalward Stephanie Kemp Resigns from the ANC”

  1. Thomas Alberts Says:

    The most significant sentences for me are :

    “The question has to be raised – what interests have been served by the ascendancy of the Zuma leadership at Polokwane that has closed down hard fought for democratic space and threatens peace and stability.”

    My follow up question is, whatever these interests are, how can they trump the importance of democratic space, peace and stability? And to the extent that they evidently do trump the hard fought for gains of the struggle, how can the Zuma leadership claim to be representing the ANC and its traditions.

    “The leaders including leading Communists who took over the ANC at Polokwane have demonstrated that they are a dangerous leadership apparently intent on plunging our country into violence and thuggery and a clear threat to our democracy and to peace.”

    Sad but true. And finally:

    “This Party, that has taken control of the ANC, is not the Party of Joe Slovo, Alex la Guma, Yusuf Dadoo or Chris Hani.”

    This is undoubtedly the saddest part of the whole sorry affair, that the ANC and SACP would trash their proud traditions and achievements for some parochial, short-term benefit to a political elite.

    All that said, COP is not necessarily the answer; we await their policy statements and other indications of their orientation and style of leadership. However, they do represent the first real opportunity for anti-racial opposition politics in SA and we look forward to their launch.

    We need to rescue our democracy from this cabal of thugs and opportunists and restore pride in the anti-apartheid struggle. That’s why it’s so important to vote next year and we all need to work very hard to get the vote out. It doesn’t matter who you’re voting for, we need to get everyone to the polls. My sense is that if we can do that, we’ll see a very different political landscape come next May.

    Reply

  2. Thomas Alberts Says:

    The most significant sentences for me are :

    “The question has to be raised – what interests have been served by the ascendancy of the Zuma leadership at Polokwane that has closed down hard fought for democratic space and threatens peace and stability.”

    My follow up question is, whatever these interests are, how can they trump the importance of democratic space, peace and stability? And to the extent that they evidently do trump the hard fought for gains of the struggle, how can the Zuma leadership claim to be representing the ANC and its traditions.

    “The leaders including leading Communists who took over the ANC at Polokwane have demonstrated that they are a dangerous leadership apparently intent on plunging our country into violence and thuggery and a clear threat to our democracy and to peace.”

    Sad but true. And finally:

    “This Party, that has taken control of the ANC, is not the Party of Joe Slovo, Alex la Guma, Yusuf Dadoo or Chris Hani.”

    This is undoubtedly the saddest part of the whole sorry affair, that the ANC and SACP would trash their proud traditions and achievements for some parochial, short-term benefit to a political elite.

    All that said, COP is not necessarily the answer; we await their policy statements and other indications of their orientation and style of leadership. However, they do represent the first real opportunity for anti-racial opposition politics in SA and we look forward to their launch.

    We need to rescue our democracy from this cabal of thugs and opportunists and restore pride in the anti-apartheid struggle. That’s why it’s so important to vote next year and we all need to work very hard to get the vote out. It doesn’t matter who you’re voting for, we need to get everyone to the polls. My sense is that if we can do that, we’ll see a very different political landscape come next May.

    Reply

  3. Ramo Says:

    Your last paragraph is to say the least a bit worrying. A couple of months back those who were arguing that they should go to the poles and spoil their vote was a option but not now when the political situation much become more fluid in fact fundamentally changed.

    The ANC has experiencing a serious split and a new party is been born. One may argue that a lot of the people who moved out have debious records but what they are signaled is that there is no place in the ANC for them. That the ANC has been taken over a clique that is help bent on removing anyone from its ranks that they see as a threat to their political agenda. Which is nothing other than a mishmash of power hungry careerists and political opportunists.

    The events in the past couple of days and the statement of Malema has just gone on to enforce the COPE argument about the inabaility of the ANC to change course.

    The COPE people most important policy platform is defending Democracy, ie democracy needs to be strengthened and that can only bedone by the creation of a strong opposition. Which is an argument that we need to take seriously. What then are the options: but before we look at options one needs to ask what are the minimum conditions / policy issues that progressive democrats feel that they need to adopt to effect change in South Africa. I am afraid that has not emerged as yet. Lets see what the ANC and the COPE people formulate in the next month or two. The ANC and SACP have put forward their positions – but as you know this needs interrogation – some of the positions are really badly formulated.

    Lets look at the short term
    some points : A. notwithstanding COPE”s weakness it needs the support of all democrats. People should be positive go all out and start influensing their policies. Engage with them online if not in meetings.

    If a large numbers come out and vote for COPE around the issues of building Non racialism, deepening democracy, fighting corruption and intolerance – change to the constitution – developing a more coherent policies on fighting poverty – pushing for deliver.

    One of the most important issue is the reform of the education system. Here the key issue is to to get the buyin from SACTU and the other teacher unions, they need to accept accountability and teacher assessment.

    The DOE has made changes to the OBE since the Asmal review but the Unions need to be brought on board otherwise no amount of tinkering with the system is going to work. This is the message that we need to champion and get the ANC to also accept.

    Point C. The ANC must be given a chance to reform : lets see if it will continue to support the Melema’s – lets see if it will put those MP who have been involved in the Travelgate scandal on to its election lists, the same appies to COPE.

    Point d. Lets see if the ANC is going to convene a inquiry into the arms deal.

    look one can go on and on.

    what I am saying is that you now have an option of voting for a party other than the ANC – Lets see what happens by December 16th.

    Reply

  4. Ramo Says:

    Your last paragraph is to say the least a bit worrying. A couple of months back those who were arguing that they should go to the poles and spoil their vote was a option but not now when the political situation much become more fluid in fact fundamentally changed.

    The ANC has experiencing a serious split and a new party is been born. One may argue that a lot of the people who moved out have debious records but what they are signaled is that there is no place in the ANC for them. That the ANC has been taken over a clique that is help bent on removing anyone from its ranks that they see as a threat to their political agenda. Which is nothing other than a mishmash of power hungry careerists and political opportunists.

    The events in the past couple of days and the statement of Malema has just gone on to enforce the COPE argument about the inabaility of the ANC to change course.

    The COPE people most important policy platform is defending Democracy, ie democracy needs to be strengthened and that can only bedone by the creation of a strong opposition. Which is an argument that we need to take seriously. What then are the options: but before we look at options one needs to ask what are the minimum conditions / policy issues that progressive democrats feel that they need to adopt to effect change in South Africa. I am afraid that has not emerged as yet. Lets see what the ANC and the COPE people formulate in the next month or two. The ANC and SACP have put forward their positions – but as you know this needs interrogation – some of the positions are really badly formulated.

    Lets look at the short term
    some points : A. notwithstanding COPE”s weakness it needs the support of all democrats. People should be positive go all out and start influensing their policies. Engage with them online if not in meetings.

    If a large numbers come out and vote for COPE around the issues of building Non racialism, deepening democracy, fighting corruption and intolerance – change to the constitution – developing a more coherent policies on fighting poverty – pushing for deliver.

    One of the most important issue is the reform of the education system. Here the key issue is to to get the buyin from SACTU and the other teacher unions, they need to accept accountability and teacher assessment.

    The DOE has made changes to the OBE since the Asmal review but the Unions need to be brought on board otherwise no amount of tinkering with the system is going to work. This is the message that we need to champion and get the ANC to also accept.

    Point C. The ANC must be given a chance to reform : lets see if it will continue to support the Melema’s – lets see if it will put those MP who have been involved in the Travelgate scandal on to its election lists, the same appies to COPE.

    Point d. Lets see if the ANC is going to convene a inquiry into the arms deal.

    look one can go on and on.

    what I am saying is that you now have an option of voting for a party other than the ANC – Lets see what happens by December 16th.

    Reply

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