I first heard of the ANC in 1952, I was doing my standard six when members of the Defiance Campaign were visiting my school. Until that time, I had not heard anyone challenge the apartheid massage that blacks where inferior to whites.
The message they preached captured me. When I got to high school, I joined the ANC youth League.
Later on in my life, I spent a year in Joburg and that one year was more than all the year I spent in politics at that stage. I had the opportunity to learn directly from leaders like Walter Sisulu, Duma Nokwe and Nelson Mandela. All the leaders where well educated, but they were not leading the lifestyle of lawyers who were amongst the most educated black South Africans at the time. They were more popular in their communities for being prepared to defend people who were arrested, even without pay.
They made a living but they did not use their ability to extract money from poor people. That impressed me a lot. This is the ANC I joined, the ANC that was founded to liberate the oppressed people of the country. Once we got liberation, we all so relieved that at last the work we had been fighting for had happened. We assumed that everyone was ready to work for the good of the entire country.
This was a serious mistake.
Jackie Selebi was a senior official in our foreign affairs. We all assumed that he would know that he had to conduct himself like a senior policeman of the world. But we were wrong, he allowed himself to be bought by mafia criminals, he ended up being bribed with very petty things like shoes and a house. He was easy to bribe, he forgot his main mission.
We assumed that everyone understood that now that we have our freedom, we must make sure that we defend it. We failed in defending our freedom by allowing certain people who had no interest except for themselves to get into positions of leadership, positions of authority.
They took over institutions and instead of ensuring that those institutions achieve their objects, they made sure that those institutions were corrupted in order for them to make the maximum income out of those them.
It is sad that there are people who are supposed to be leaders of the ANC who have forgotten that the duty of an ANC leader is to serve people. People who think in life they must amass wealth even to the point of allowing foreigners to take wealth out of the country.
We must make clear examples of people who behave this way. They must be used to demonstrate to other people that you cannot benefit at the expense of the people.
The good leaders in the ANC must lead and get people to be prepared to expose those who are not working according to the standard of the ANC. The few who have betrayed the constitution of the country are not the majority, the majority are those who are now saying, it’s high time you come up and clear this mess.
We must have a system that will be able to remove a leader if they fail to deliver on what they were meant to deliver. We need a system of accountability. Every responsibility that you are given, you must be accountable and if you show that you are unable to carry the responsibility which you have been given, there must be a system to remove you from the job. This conference is going to deal with this issue and say it is high time we go back to our values and high time that those who betrayed the trust of our people be punished.
People are showing a readiness to support leaders who will do the right thing. The good people must come into leadership. The majority of the people will help them to get rid of the bad minority.
We have one of the best constitutions in the world let us begin to live up to the values of the constitution.
Sindiso Mfenyana is an ANC veteran and author of the book “Walking with Giants”.