NEWS24 / 03 FEBRUARY 20202 - 13.58 / TSHIDI MADIA
South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila has called on the ANC to reconnect with its non-racial character in memory of fallen struggle hero Ben Turok.
On Sunday, ANC members including former president Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala and ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte, led a tribute to Turok at the Johannesburg City Hall.
SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila (PHOTO: Bongiwe Gumede)
The event, attended by numerous veterans of the party and the tripartite alliance, celebrated Turok's legacy. He died last month.
Mapaila decried the former liberation movement losing its non-racial character, urging his comrades across the tripartite alliance to reconnect with this principle. He also criticised the lack of support for matters related to their white comrades.
"Why didn't we raise the race card when Neil Aggett and others confronted the apartheid regime? When Ben Turok, Albie Sachs and others confronted the apartheid regime?" asked Mapaila.
He said he had to apologise to Aggett's family, who is currently attending an inquest into his death. His death in 1982 was ruled as a suicide under the apartheid regime, while most of his comrades believed Aggett was murdered.
"It seems his blood as a white combatant, a white comrade, is not as thick as other blood," Mapaila remarked, as he called on ANC leaders to organise supporters to attend the inquest in Johannesburg and stand by the family.
"Neil Aggett liberated us. Why should we enjoy the freedom but when we come to enjoy the fruit of freedom, we raise the race card?" Mapaila continued asking.
BEE to blame
Reviewing some of professor Turok's writings and views on the country's economic policies, Mapaila reflected on the state of two of the country's most troubled state-owned enterprises, namely SAA and Eskom. He partly blamed the airline's woes on having to implement black economic empowerment (BEE) while its competitors didn't have to.
"All these other airlines that are flying the domestic route, are not required to comply with BEE and SAA must comply with BEE. As it complies with the BEE principles, its pricing structure increases, therefore people ditch it to go to the most cheapest airline," said Mapaila.
He said no other airline in the world failed to make a profit in its own country, urging members of their organisations to think about the situation.
Mapaila questioned how load shedding had become normalised, cautioning against a state that suffered from "political hyperboulia" and who is unable to make decisions.
"We have to deal with these questions regarding the skills required to drive our transformation agenda. You can't start from blackmail where entities that have been functioning, suddenly collapse. Eskom is one of them, SAA and others," he said.
Mapaila also criticised the attack on those said to be bringing reforms to these institutions, accusing them of attacking those leaders on the basis of race, without naming anyone.
Some must face treason charges
Zikalala told those gathered at the event that he met Turok in Lusaka, Zambia, during the 1970s. He also reflected on the 30th anniversary of the unbanning of political parties, including the ANC, in South Africa, and praised Turok for continuing to remain vigilant, participating in the party's structures and defending the country's democratic values.
Zikalala said Turok was owed a great debt of gratitude, including for his contribution to the Freedom Charter, a document adopted in 1955, which speaks to the vision of a future South Africa.
"When our glorious movement veered off track, when the democratic Constitution was undermined, when lies were peddled and unscrupulous individuals were protected, when matters relating to the Guptas, Nkandla and the unnecessary dismissal of Cabinet members [were happening] and had been defended, comrade Turok was not afraid to break ranks and demanded accountability from those who were in power," said Zikalala.
He described how state-owned enterprises were "hijacked" and mass looting took place.
"Some individuals must be charged for committing treason as they were complicit and actively participated in mass looting," remarked Zikalala.
In reflecting on the future of the ANC, Zikalala touched on the 2016 local government elections when the ANC lost control of three metros. He said the party was "shaken" by society's decision to punish the party.
He said the Veterans League would work towards ensuring a different outcome in next year's municipal elections and will assist in renewing the party so that it would become the most effective force of social change in the country.
Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER