The following is a joint letter from the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Nelson Mandela Foundation and Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation handed to the Secretary General of the ANC at the National Executive Committee meeting yesterday.
The Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and
the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation jointly write to you at a difficult time in the
history of the African National Congress and our country, South Africa. The ANC has
been through challenging times before, but with the resourceful and courageous
leadership the organisation has been blessed with in its long history, it can yet
again provide an invigorated, visionary course into the future.
We are deeply concerned about the current course on which our country is headed.
We believe this course is contrary to the individual and collective legacy of our Founders.
We read disturbing stories in newspapers and other media about “state capture”; we see important institutions of democracy such as Parliament under great strain; we hear what ordinary South Africans tell us through our work, and are challenged
by friends and comrades who witness cumulative fragmentation of the ANC, a
great organisation our Founders helped build and sustain over generations. In the
spirit of our Founders, we cannot passively watch these deeply concerning
developments unfold and get worse by the day.
Leaders such as Tambo, Mandela and Kathrada helped shape the ANC by providing a
vision of a better future for all our people. Their vision of freedom, social justice,
and democracy was embraced by millions of South Africans. It was based on and
driven by strong moral authority and principled engagement. Their leadership and
that of the ANC were admired the world over. It inspired other people in their own
In 1994, the humanity and dignity of our people were restored, and the new state,
a constitutional democracy, began to support that humanity and dignity with varied institutions it created and which were dedicated to achieving a better
quality of life for all its citizens.
In its leadership of this new democracy the government of the African National
Congress enjoyed overwhelming support across the nation: the youth, religious
communities, civil society, and South Africans of all persuasions. The worldwide
solidarity in support of a cause that was as universal as it was humanistic, showed
the extent to which South Africa had inspired the world.
Sadly, by the day we witness the steady erosion of something very rare in human
history: a near universal admiration of a country and what it had pledged itself to
achieve. All South Africans have a living memory of the freedoms we have won and
experienced. We cannot sit back and watch those freedoms being taken away.
It is in this respect that it seems to us that the ANC has significantly drifted away
from the ideals to which our Founders and many others, dedicated their lives. We
are disturbed by accounts we receive from students, religious leaders, members of
our community, the media and from civil society organisations about the
disillusionment of our people and their waning trust in the ANC as a result of the
We believe we have reached a watershed moment. We appeal to the National
Executive Committee of the ANC as they meet over the weekend to take note of
the mood of the people across the country, to reflect deeply on their solemn
responsibilities, to make urgent choices, and to take urgent corrective actions in
the best interest of South Africa and its peoples.
We make this call to remain true to our Founders and to continue their life’s work
to champion the cause of freedom and democracy for our people. It is for these
that they were “prepared to die”.
History will judge the ANC leadership harshly if it fails to take the decisions that
will restore the trust and confidence of the people of South Africa. In the true
spirit of our Founders we offer our experience and expertise in any manner that
might assist in facilitating a critical process of dialogue in which South Africans can
find one another in the restoration of visionary cohesion and nation-building at this
hour of need. Our doors are open!