Build Popular Organs To Consolidate People’s Power

21 February 2008

The Freedom Charter’s opening clause states that “The People Shall Govern.” The involvement of the masses of the people leading to the Congress of the People in 1955 demonstrated popular mobilization for people’s power in action.

We must hasten to say that whilst the process of the Defiance Campaign emanating from the ANC’s 1949 Programme of Action, was a milestone in mass mobilization. It was however not the first of its kind. In 1913 women legally followed all procedures in registering their protests against the notorious pass system which was then extended to black women and children. These pioneers hailing from the modern day Free State Province, led by Mah Gabashane, Mah Kotsi and Mah Louw exhausted “all constitutional measures” with no positive response from the authorities. Eventually they decided to take the law into their own hands and to ‘throw off their shawls’ in mobilizing the masses of women in defiance of the oppressive system.

To this extent we will argue that the seeds of political mass mobilization were planted by these pioneers at the time when the ANC was less radical with the authorities.

We need a conscious ANC cadreship to understand the importance of building strong mass organs for People’s Power with the ANC commanding respect in this regard. Whether we are dealing with campaigns on education, energy security, crime issues these organs have proven over the years to be effective in yielding positive results.

The call therefore by the 52nd ANC Conference to form street committees to fight crime is borne out of this understanding. We need to intensify our all round offensive against poverty, want, ignorance, disease and crime by building these organs. The call is not to build for their sake but in order to reaffirm that the people of our land are the masters of their own destiny.

Perhaps by omission or commission we have encouraged our populace to be dependent on authorities to entirely run their lives. Addressing this caucus in 2004 we warned against some of the concepts we use in dealing with the socio economic woes faced by the people. This was in reference to loosely spoken phrases like “‘service delivery” or “delivery”.

Though this is not meant to be taken literally, but in practice the unintended is realized. We must problematise these expression since they promote docility amongst the people. We then turn around and wonder when people ask “what is there for us” or ” when will this government deliver A or B.” This is in contrast with assertions like “building together” or “Vukuzenzele” et al which we need to emphasise all the time.

This Caucus as part of the conquering force, which is the ANC, must be in a position to report back to itself after the constituency period on how far have each constituency gone in launching the organs of people’s power. This is definitely beyond the hundred membership of the ANC, it is in each community as we did in the past.

The last matter along this path is to educate ourselves and the young ones in our society to be good citizens, patriots and be internationalist. In the African setup, caring, sharing and loving your country are principled shared all over from the
Cape to Cairo. Let us endeavour to keep this good practices but extend them beyond our national borders. The schools pledge must be understood against this backdrop ie for the good of society as opposed to individualism or worse, greed. The subject matter is meant to complement the theme of the ANC’s January 8 call of the year of “Mass Mobilisation to build a caring society. Advance in Unity Towards 2012.”

Nathi Mthethwa
ANC Chief Whip