The family of the late anti-apartheid activist and lawyer Dullah Omar have formally written to the National Executive of the ANC to have his name removed from the ANC Cape Town Metro Region in the Western Cape. The Omar family has spoken out against the crisis within the ruling party, which it believes undermines the hard-won democracy fought for by the anti-apartheid movement.
The family’s concern follows in the wake of the recent announcement by the Dullah Omar Region of the ANC Western Cape of a march in support of President Jacob Zuma, scheduled to coincide with the “motion of no confidence” debate in the National Assembly on Tuesday 8th August.
In a strongly worded statement, the Omar family said no consultation with the family took place regarding the naming of the region after Dullah Omar. At the time, they considered it “churlish” to take up the matter with the Western Cape region.
“With hindsight, it is clear that we should have done so at that time. We acknowledge and appreciate the intentions of those who named the region after Dullah Omar as a way of honouring his memory and legacy,” said his sister Latifa Omar.
“Notwithstanding these intentions, we have decided that the time to make this statement has arrived, in view of what has happened since then and which has drastically undermined and weakened the ANC and the struggle for a just, non-racial, non-sexist and egalitarian society.”
While the ANC administration has been dogged by huge political scandals, it is the normalisation of corruption, nepotism and state-capture that has angered ordinary South Africans. The concern around South Africa’s state of democracy has seen a groundswell of voices from civil society, determined to root out corruption. Over the past two years, there have been intensified calls by anti-apartheid stalwarts, political activists and religious leaders for President Jacob Zuma.
“Sadly, many ANC leaders – from ANC branches to the highest level – have dropped the ball: they are more interested in themselves and their positions than serving the interests of the people; factionalism, greed, anti-democratic practices have taken root; corruption and poor governance are rife; they act with arrogance and impunity. Their behaviour has let many down and is destroying the ANC and the country,” said Latifa.
Dullar Omar was one of the few attorneys who were prepared to take on the political trials which were prominent in the 1960s. The former political detainee was a member of the Unity Movement, Western Cape UDF Chairman, and during the advent of democracy, he fulfilled the positions of Minister of Justice and Transport.
“Dullah (Abdullah Mohamed) Omar was a man of integrity, honesty and humility. His words and deeds were based on similar principles, morality and values of many of the heroes of the liberation struggle, leaders and foot-soldiers.
“He was unwavering and committed and could not be and was not diverted from doing what he felt was necessary to make South Africa a more just, equal and democratic country. No inducement of position, power or personal enrichment was powerful enough to change him.”
“This contrasts sharply with the behaviour and actions in recent years of many ANC leaders and members up to and including President Jacob Zuma.”
The family has asked the ANC to dissociate Dullah Omar and the family’s name from the planned march in support of President Jacob Zuma.
The family have emphasized the need to rebuild and reclaim the ANC based on the “principles, values and practices by which Dullah Omar and countless others lived their lives”.
Latifa urged South Africans to support the revival of “progressive and vibrant community-based organisations” to actively work with the ANC and Government at all levels to strengthen good governance, including fighting corruption.
She said Dullah Omar, like many ANC leaders, would never have condoned the status quo in the ruling party.
“Neither he, nor his name, should ever be associated with justifying the reprehensible or defending the indefensible. As a family, we cannot allow him to be undermined simply because of his absence,” she continued.
“In his name, and in the memory of our great stalwarts, and the millions of people who have fought for our organisation, died for our organisation, voted for our organisation, let us take back our ANC.”