WATCH: Anglogold chairman Sipho Pityana skewers Zuma as ANC bigwigs look on

Anglogold chairman Sipho Pityana knew exactly what he was doing when he drafted this powerful speech for the memorial service to his close friend, former Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkhesi Stofile. Such was Stofile’s stature within the ANC that the service attracted virtually all the movement’s heavyweights. Pityana says it is a pity that one, South African President Jacob Zuma, was not in attendance. Because in many ways the speech was written for him  – with the express intention of explaining why Zuma is no longer “honourable” and why he should resign his office and depart forthwith. The deeply flawed ANC President has been attacked before. But never with such contempt, in such detail and at such length as Pityana does here. The Youtube video has had more that 130 000 views, which must be a record for a South African eulogy.  But as you watch it – or read the transcript – the reason is soon apparent. Pityana exposes the ANC’s underbelly. What comes to light is uglier than you might imagine. – Alec Hogg.  

By Sipho Pityana*

Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, former President Kgalema Motlanthe, government leaders here present, Secretary General of the ANC, Comrade Gwede Mantashe and the leadership of the ANC and the alliance at large, the Stofile family, all protocols observed.

In his dying days, may his yearnings for the movement to get back to its former glory be picked up by those amongst us who know what it took us to get to be a free country. Comrade Stofile was a great friend. Christians will tell you that when you choose somebody to be a godparent to your child, you look for somebody who has certain values, certain character, a certain conduct, somebody who represents something. After all, Stofile is a Presbyterian and I am an Anglican, but as a family, we chose Stofile to be a godfather to our son, Zukisa.

We chose this because he lived his Christian belief in his everyday life. He was a man of love, he loved his family, he had great humility and simplicity, and he had no heirs. He valued and respected ordinary people, particularly the poor. He was courageous, he was fearless, and he was daring. He was principled, he was scrupulous, and he stood for something. He championed education, he understood it, understood education, sports and culture as schools for empowerment and development.

Stofile was a development activist who wouldn’t want, as you bring a young life up in this challenging society, to have somebody on your side who helps you bring him up. These are the solid values that made the revolution an attractive project for him. He was destined therefore. He was grounded to become a public servant in leadership, in government, a public servant.

When I talk here about Stofile, a family friend, I really want to reflect on the many conversations that we had, but on the most recent conversations and I hope by the time I finish you will have a sense of urgency. Stofile is a revolutionary who died with his boots on. Even when some thought they had demobilised him to the margins of the polity,  we all look the same. When we sing and chant our commitment and zeal for the revolution seem to be similar, but in our movement as in everywhere else, there are different cadres, there are peacetime revolutionaries and there are true cadres who took risks when it was necessary.

In 1906 that was his battle cry by the way, just in case you didn’t know. He was one of the founding fathers of the African National Congress, an intellectual, I guess in today’s lingo, a clever black.

I’m not going to tell you the context in which he said, “You must ask yourself what if this great revolutionary movement is going to go down and bite the dust, even when you are there?” That, our movement is in crisis, is trite and it is beyond question. If you doubted it, look at what happened in the local government elections. The debate for us today and the debate that we’re having with Stofile was why it is that it is in a crisis, what can we do about it?

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We’ve had many conversations and I’m sure people who visited him in Germany as an ambassador and in other places would have had similar conversations. One of the conversations we had at General Tzaba’s house at the break of this year with some of the few of his trusted comrades. It was a very painful conversation and soon thereafter we watched and listened, like all of you, to the constitutional court’s judgement in April around the Nkandla Saga.

On the 1st of April, we had a function at which he was present to celebrate my son’s graduation. The President of the country made a statement in response to that judgement. We all congregated around the television in anticipation, it sounded like the second Rubicon of FW De Klerk. He failed to rise to the occasion. Let Stofile’s cry for the restoration of our movement to its former glory not be in vain.

I know what a movement in denial, for when we talk about why it is or where we are, we say as it is because of the negative and hostile media. Maybe it is. We say it is because Western Government is driving an agenda for regime change. Maybe it is. We say it is because of clever blacks who are undisciplined and arrogant. We say it is NGO’s who are agents of foreign interests. But Comrade Stofile would have none of it.

He reminded us and reminded me all the time to remember that Oliver Tambo encouraged us to be cadres with unquestioned loyalty. But here’s an important qualification that Oliver Tambo made: that you must also be cadres with questioning loyalty.

We must be questioning because answers come from asking difficult questions. He never failed to ask those difficult questions. He went beyond these superficial postures. He was able to do so because he never sought to please. He had already nailed his credentials during the tough times because he didn’t join the ANC when it was fashionable to do so. He risked his life, the safety of his family, his career, to associate with the ANC at a time when it was possible to pay the most dear price for doing so. His prognosis for our crisis is that our setbacks are self-inflicted.

We have ceded our moral high ground to the opponents who say we are not the party of the Constitution and they have a right to say so. We give them reason.  For no lesser person than the President of our movement and our country (Jacob Zuma) takes every opportunity to show nothing but disdain and contempt for our Constitution.

For the many years since I joined as a young boy, the ANC advocated, respected, and promoted the independence of the judiciary and separation of powers. Which ANC is this without any conference resolution that makes statements that attack judges as counterrevolutionaries? Which ANC is this?

We attack, undermine, and show complete disdain for Chapter Nine institutions. I need to remind you that as Oliver Tambo suffered a stroke, one of the chapters that he wrote as a precursor to this country, was a conceptualisation of the notion of the Chapter Nine institution. If you didn’t know that go and read the Harare Declaration.

Who are these leaders of today who don’t have a sense of that history? We are ceding this moral high ground, we are in the ANC that can rightly claim that we have human rights. Not because it’s a Western concept. We were among the first to adopt the African and People’s Right’s. Nobody asked us to. That’s why we have a Bill of Rights in our Constitution. But it must be a great shame, mustn’t it, that under our own government we kill in cold blood with horrific brutality, workers for going on strike?

We murder in full glare of international media, Andries Tatane, for engaging in a service delivery protest. We say we’re a party that is against corruption, and yet at every moment we are seen to be falling over each other to steal from the poor. All these things we do with absolute impunity.

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A movement like this prompts Desmond Tutu to take to the media and say, “You do not represent me”.

Comrades you can’t have that. But you see, this is what I mean when I say that we are ceding moral high ground. And then we look for scapegoats outside, that there are people who do not like us, there are people who are attacking us, there are people who are reporting negatively about us. We must introspect and look at what it is that we are doing wrong, that’s what Bra Stofile was arguing. Look at this example that he leaves us with.

Unlike some, Bra Stof showed great respect for public office. He was burdened by the honour and responsibility that came with public office. As you drove here lnghala is on your right-hand side, it’s a rural village. During his tenure as a premier, he didn’t give it any special treatment. Look again as you go out, it will be on your left. You will not find a palace worth over R200m, an extravaganza amidst a sea of poverty. You won’t find it. Mwamba’s homestead is a decent, yet humble abode.

Bra Stof was a scrupulous leader. There’s a very important chapter in Bra Stof’s life, he was accused of corruption, a commission of enquiry was appointed. He didn’t play avoidance games, he submitted himself to public scrutiny. He didn’t mobilise politically, he didn’t abuse state institutions to protect himself, and he didn’t try to block the enquiry. He didn’t destabilise the national prosecution authority, the police, the intelligence, and other security structures to defend himself.

He humbled himself; he showed respect for the law and the people that put him in position of responsibility, he followed due process. Of course, the Commission of Enquiry made an unfavourable finding. When it made an unfavourable finding against him, he didn’t cast aspersion against it, he didn’t insult the judiciary, and he took the matter on judicial review and cleared his name. Anybody who says Stofile was corrupt today will be wrong because a judge of a high court found that the Pillay Commission was wrong. Stofile was not corrupt.

That’s what you do when you respect public office. He had an understanding of public office, respect for the people and that thing called accountability because accountability, you see is an important measure of respect for the people, it is an important measure of respect for public office.

You don’t, when you call to account, plunge parliament into chaos, you don’t when you call into account, plunge constitutional bodies like the Public Protector into enemies of the people when they are not. You don’t compromise the hope of the downtrodden and oppressed people of the country, their own movement, ANC, mobilise it into an organisation and a machine to defend you in your own transgressions, you don’t do that.

When the Constitutional Court makes a finding that you broke your oath of office, what it means is that you longer honourable no longer. What it means is that you are untrustworthy because today we all call each other Comrade without distinction. Cadres of Stof’s ilk were side-lined in favour of a different kind of cadre.

The new cadre who sits in the ANC, an opportunity to get the benefit because it is rewarding to be associated with the ANC these days and the queue of people who want to join is long. You don’t have to work hard. ANC membership often opens up opportunities, so the fight for leadership roles is not about giving; it is about proximity to resources for yourself, for your family and your cronies.

Several secretary general reports to various congresses and policy conferences of the ANC have commented about this. But nothing done and the reality of the matter is that some of the leaders have been co-opted to be among those who are on the eating trough. So I must ask a question, do we have the leaders of the revolution or do we have full-time thieves and looters?

For there can be no doubt today that the balance of forces in the movement has changed. It has changed in favour of the forces of corruption. Our movement is captured and consequently the state is captured, our revolutionary project is under threat, but hear the consequences. As we abandon the roles, as we abandon the robes that defined the ANC, there were many others but they are only too keen to pick them up and wear them with pride.

There are many who are prepared to pick these up and wear them with pride. It is because our great positions, our great policies we have abandoned, we insulted in favour of things trivial. In 2004, we had 69 percent of the electorate; in 2016, we have 54 percent. Comrades, unless drastic steps are taken today, in 2019 we will come down to less than 40 percent.

I want to tell you that all of us are joined as disciplined cadres of this movement to not speak in public but engage the movement quietly. Many of us have tried. Comrade Stofile himself submitted many letters to the ANC, but guess what? His letters went unanswered. We must ask ourselves if we are about changing our movement’s mission.

We have come down from where we were and in this leadership, what we’ve experienced is a cataclysmic anti-climax. What we are seeing is nothing less than grotesque and unmitigated chaos that prevails.

It’s time for a new leadership.

Comrades, leadership is not fun. Leadership is about responsibility. I’m very disappointed that the President was not here because I prepared this speech in the anticipation of him calling. If the President were here I would have asked him as my leader, I would have begged him, I would have pleaded with him, I would have prayed.

A leader that has humiliated our organisation and undermined everything that we represent cannot lead the next level. Comrade SG (Gwede Mantashe), I appreciate your presence and one of the things that I’m very excited about is the decision of the National Executive Committee meeting.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC says, “With the setback that we have suffered we take collective responsibility”. But you see, Comrade SG, that for short, that is not good enough. A person who takes responsibility falls on their sword. So the leadership that has got us to a crisis that we’re in must also accept that it is not capable of launching us in the new battles to ensure this organisation survives.

I join others who make the call that it is urgent that an elective conference of the ANC must be held, but that’s not enough. I would also suggest that you please convene a committee or a council of stalwarts and veterans of our movement.

Comrade Thabo Mbeki, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe, Comrade Kathrada, Comrade Winnie Mandela, Comrade Dennis Goldberg, call all of them in. Convene them in a special committee that will be responsible for ensuring that we convene a credible elective congress. I want you to ask the leadership to please consider mandating the integrity committee of the ANC to ensure that all delegates go to the next elective congress; subject themselves to a lifestyle audit after this.

I pray, Comrades that we find younger leaders, it’s about time those amongst us who are aged spend their time playing with their grandchildren, they need us. I will conclude with this that EFF, United Front, that the scandalous ones who didn’t vote, don’t give up Comrades, let’s come back and fight, this battle is not over. If we really want Bra Stof, if we want his cries in his deathbed not to be in vain, we must do exactly these things; rest in peace, thank you very much.

  • Sipho Pityana is the chairman of global mining group Anglogold Ashanti, and of JSE-listed Onelogix and the SA subsidiary of Munich Re. This is his eulogy at the official memorial service for former Sports Minister and Eastern Cape Premier Makhenkhesi Stofile, who passed away on August 15.
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