ANC Must Return to its Values of Old

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Leader in Mpumalanga

Note to editors: The following address was delivered to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature today, during the Debate on the ANC Centenary. ‘Unity in Diversity’.

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) I extend my sincere congratulations to the African National Congress (ANC), its leaders and representatives on achieving its 100th year of existence. By any measure, this is an impressive milestone.

These 100 years show an extraordinary record, without parallel on the continent of Africa. If the ANC is saying this is much more than a celebration of the 100th birthday of a political party, we agree. It represents a history of progress, a quest for human rights and the advent of democracy after a long struggle, that took over 80 years.

A hundred years is a long time. Governments have changed. New leaders have emerged, and the ANC has sought to change its character from a liberation movement to a ruling party. The sacrifices of countless ANC members and leaders played a major role in ending Apartheid, and the DA applauds these contributions.

The values espoused by the father of the New South Africa, Nelson Mandela, still resonate strongly with the people of this country. His humane, non-racial vision of equality for all under a democratic system – now guaranteed in the Constitution – led our country out of the dark days of repression and put us firmly on the path to freedom.

The DA believes that these values are timeless.

Sadly, it is the very values which led the ANC through its toughest days, which are today forgotten by the very same movement. Much irony lies in the theme of today’s debate ‘unity in diversity’. For if it was not for unity the ANC would never have reached its 100th year of existence. Yet today, the ANC is neither united, no does it value diversity.

In fact, the racism displayed by ANC members in this house, especially in Mkhondo last week, erodes the very philosophy on which the ANC was built. It is sad, that the ANC has become the very thing that it sought to defeat: an elitist, racist party, dividing South Africans and threatening the very constitution which it sought to create.

Undoubtedly, the ANC of today is not the ANC being celebrated. It has become a party of factionalism and self-serving individuals, far removed from the plea and suffering of Mpumalanga’s people.

While the Centenary is a worthy opportunity for celebration; this historic event also calls for introspection and reflection. Without the values articulated by Nelson Mandela, the ANC risks becoming a rudderless vessel, and while many believe the ANC can be saved from within, it is only a matter time before they too realise just how this vessel has drifted from its original course.

Honourable Speaker, as the ANC celebrates its centenary, the time is right to retain the best of the past, and move boldly into a future for all South Africans

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