Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Council Judge Ronnie Pillay;
Hon Vice-Chancellor and CEO Prof Derrick Swartz;
Hon Premier of the Eastern Cape,
Noxolo Kiviet and all provincial EXCO members present;
ANC Provincial Chairperson, Pumullo Masualle and all provincial leadership,
Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Ms Nondumiso Maphazi,
ANC Regional Chairperson, Nceba Faku and regional leadership,
Mrs Dideka Mhlaba in absentia, and Ms Nomawethu Mhlaba, daughter of Oom Ray,
MPs, MPLs, Mayors and district Mayors, councilors,
Chairperson of the Raymond Mhlaba Trust, Mr Weza Moss;
Academics and students;
Ladies and gentlemen,
It was Karl Marx who observed that: "People make history, but not as they please, not under the circumstances of their own choosing".
This is indeed true in the case of our stalwart, Comrade Raymond Mpakamisi Mhlaba and many other illustrious leaders of our movement.
It is correct and proper that we should spend a few moments remembering Oom Ray, to draw lessons from his leadership in this phase of building a developmental state.
Raymond Mhlaba lived a life of selfless commitment and dedication to the struggle for freedom and justice, an experience that is important to share, especially with the youth born to freedom.
We must today also recall all our stalwarts of the same generation, Govan Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Harry Gwala, Oliver Tambo, Ahmed Kathrada, Ruth Mompati, Gertrude Shope and a host of others.
Through their noble work we reclaimed our humanity as a nation, and proudly draw leadership lessons on discipline, selflessness, dedication, commitment, people development and advancement.
The possession of qualities of leadership for development begins with one?s own value system and outlook.
In his own words, it was from his grandfather that Oom Ray learnt one of his memorable lessons, the value of fighting for respect and human dignity.
His father instilled in him the value of honesty and the courage and willingness to die for the truth if need be.
He assumed this as his lifelong commission. Ladies and gentlemen;
The essence of political leadership, as we learnt from Oom Ray, is the ability to analyse and appreciate the objective conditions that one operates in.
It is the ability to understand the changing and dynamic conditions of the time and to adjust accordingly to avoid perishing as both an individual and organization.
Without an appreciation of this simple fact, any organization would become extinct.
To understand the objective conditions requires political clarity. This was one of Oom Ray?s greatest strengths.
He believed in political education and development of cadres, and had the ability to produce cadres and leaders of a high quality for underground work for the SACP.
He was able to provide the type of ideological preparation for cadres which made them ready to pay the ultimate price if need be, for the cause of freedom and justice.
In this post-liberation phase, we need such outstanding commitment and discipline, as we take forward the mission of building a better life for all.
The historical mission of the ANC has always been to achieve the social, political and economic emancipation of the black people in general and the African people in particular.
Although political freedom has been attained, the socio-economic transformation of the State and society is yet to be completed.
All components of the Tripartite Alliance, under the leadership of the ANC, have as the common task, the implementation of the National Democratic Revolution, a perspective that has been forged in struggle over more than seven decades.
The character of this NDR is articulated in key policy documents such as the Freedom Charter and the Strategy and Tactics of the ANC.
The strategic objective of the NDR, as understood by all generations of leadership and members of the Alliance, is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic society.
The ANC has for over 97 years led the struggle to unite the nation, and to bring about a South Africa that belongs to all our people, black and white.
It is our view that the ANC has the capacity to unite all South Africans, given its history, size and reach. It has the capacity to make change happen faster to improve the lives of all our people.
Our mission as the Alliance is therefore to ensure a strong and united ANC, which will use state resources to implement a progressive programme of action that should result in faster, effective and more humane service delivery.
Our election Manifesto and subsequently government?s programme of action, outline clearly what the new administration seeks to achieve during this term.
You will recall that we made a bold commitment to the electorate.
We said: "In the period ahead South Africa will need a government with both experience and political will, a government that fully understands what needs to be done to address our apartheid past, a government that puts people first and builds a participatory democracy. The ANC, working together with the people, can form such a government??.
We stated in the ANC Election Manifesto and the State of the Nation Address that this government would improve the quality of education and health care. We said we would prioritise the creation of decent work.
We stated that the fight against crime would be a key priority.
Rural infrastructure development and agricultural reforms were placed at the heart of our plan to improve our country?s food security.
Most importantly, we pointed out that we would work tirelessly to promote national unity and social cohesion.
In Comrade Raymond Mhlaba?s time, they made more with less, but at this historical juncture, we are called upon to do more with the resources at our disposal.
As leaders in the public or private service, we must therefore remain true to the undertaking to serve people with humility, discipline, honesty, efficiency and distinction.
The non-negotiable factor is that the dignity of our people must be restored through the services we provide. That is what our stalwarts worked for and sacrificed for.
Our view of Leadership for Development in the 21st century is centred on how best to involve people in governance, and how to create an interactive government that listens and responds.
Effective leadership of government by a developmental State requires two way communication with the population, to create a government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Effective leadership should mean accessibility and the ability to respond to the needs of the people, especially the poor.
The Presidential Hotline and public liaison service we established last month is of the mechanisms through which we seek to promote participatory democracy, to work with our people to solve their problems.
We are engaged in an unprecedented massive conversation with the nation.
The Hotline has received a total of 312,137 calls from the South African public, between 14 September and 08 Oct 2009. This excludes letters sent through fax and email.
Many scholars, including researchers at this very university may at some point want to study this service to ascertain what the attraction is, and what lessons it teaches on interactive governance and leadership.
Ladies and gentlemen, effective leadership globally as we speak requires the ability to respond effectively to the global economic crisis.
The crisis was not of our making as the developing world, but we have to suffer the consequences. The impact of the crisis on the poor will take longer to undo.
We have to be prudent in our actions, but without reneging on the undertakings we made to our people.
Reports indicate that we lost more than 180 000 formal jobs in the first quarter of 2009.
We have to undertake practical steps to enable us to defend our economy and to advance our developmental agenda, in the face of this crisis.
Nations are responding in various ways to mitigate the impact and plan for recovery.
As you are aware we also have the Framework Agreement with business, labour and the community sector to respond to the economic crisis.
As part of the agreement, we have invested an amount of R2.4 billion in a National Jobs Fund, drawn from resources in the National Skills Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Among concrete steps in the Framework Agreement is the setting up of a training layoff scheme as one alternative to retrenchment for workers and companies affected by the recession. We committed ourselves to the creation of decent work. We have also acknowledged that the pace would be slower given the recession. However this does not affect the Expanded Public Works job opportunities that we spoke about earlier this year.
Work is ongoing to create those work opportunities to alleviate poverty and provide our people with skills to search for permanent employment.
We are also working to improve the nature of work. In our Manifesto and government?s programme of action, we undertook to introduce laws to regulate contract work, sub-contracting and outsourcing.
We also stated that we would address the problem of labour broking and would prohibit certain abusive practices. Some of the processes are already before parliament.
As part of creating decent work we also want to promote more labour-intensive production methods and procurement policies that support local jobs.
In addition, we have launched a new national youth development agency. Its focus is on promoting access to funding and employment creation as well as skills development and decent work opportunities for young people.
The economic crisis has underlined the need for the fundamental reform of international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
This includes revisiting their mandate, scope, governance and responsiveness.
The current arrangements are inadequate, unfair and do not reflect the changes that have taken place in the global economy.
Our view is that emerging and developing economies, including the poorest, must have a greater voice in these institutions.
During our participation in the United Nations General Assembly debate last month we also called for the urgent reform of the United Nations system, especially the UN Security Council.
As South Africa, we continue to support an expansion in both the permanent and non-permanent categories of the Council as a means to meaningful reform.
We will play our role as part of the developing world leadership collective, to make these debates to result in the meaningful transformation of all international institutions. Esteemed guests,
We can speak about several leadership imperatives but these would be meaningless without an investment in education and skills development.
Very early in their lives, Comrade Raymond Mhlaba and his peers appreciated the immense emancipatory potential of education.
In the 1940s they used whatever little political material they had to conscientise and teach the people about the situation in the country. The Communist Party organized night schools throughout the country, and they produced leaders of the revolution.
We have decided to invest in basic and higher education. The adult literacy campaign has now reached more than 500 000 people. We are well within target to ensure South Africa is literate by 2014.
We are also putting extra efforts into early childhood or pre-school education. About 600,000 children attend cr?ches and pre-schools, and government subsidizes poor children attending registered Early Childhood Development centres.
We must also rise to the challenge of improving access to higher education. On the one hand we have to find ways to improve the performance of our learners at secondary level, so that we create good options for them post-matric.
In addition we have to look at financial constraints of most students.
So far, about 140,000 students have been supported through our national financial aid scheme in the higher education sector.
We must also take a qualitative look at the factors that affect student pass rates. We cannot afford a system where students stay for ever in the system. Our target is that by 2014 we should have increased the completion rate by 20%.
We have decided to broaden tertiary education through an improved focus on Colleges, Further Education and Training Colleges and Sector Education Training Authorities commonly known as SETAs.
It is our contention that the education our institutions provide should empower our graduates to be fully functional after completing their studies.
The knowledge produced by university graduates should contribute to international, national, regional and local policy formulation and other practical uses.
We trust that the Raymond Mhlaba Institute of Public Administration and Leadership will assist us to fill the much-needed skills gaps, for example in local government.
Esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen,
This Memorial Lecture enables us to reflect on the legacy of a man who was a strong believer in discipline.
Oom Ray strongly believed in iron discipline, with a clear idea of how to behave in a manner that was constructive and which would build the organization and the Alliance.
The youth in general and ANC cadres and members in particular must draw lessons on discipline, clarity of purpose, action, commitment and dedication to the cause he believed in.
We recall his outstanding contribution in the development of trade union leadership.
Oom Ray was part of a generation that created the revolutionary trade union movement.
He reminded cadres that being a worker on its own, does not make one a revolutionary.
His membership of the Laundry Workers Union magnified his early experience of childhood deprivation as a result of the menial wages that his father received.
He became an organic intellectual who worked to produce others that he wanted to be in the same mould as he was.
That is the essence of leadership in the 21st century, the ability to train, develop and empower others. Oom Ray made it his mission to make workers understand labour theory and to become politically conscious.
He posited that workers had to fully appreciate both the national oppression and class exploitation.
The leadership challenge facing us in this post-liberation period, is how to use the resources at our disposal, to take forward the objectives that Oom Ray and his peers, and those before them, worked for.
We learned from Oom Ray and his peers, that leadership means working to unite the organisation one belongs to.
Taught by generations of ANC leaders since 1912, we emphasise the importance of the unity of South Africans as citizens, the unity of the ANC and that of the Tripartite Alliance.
To Comrade Mhlaba, the question of unity was fundamental and key to the success of our movement and our struggle.
We were schooled in the notion that no personal interest could be bigger than the ANC or the need for the unity of the movement.
Oom Ray personified the unity and harmony of the collective forces against oppression, another key lesson on leadership.
He was a trade unionist, a Communist and an ANC member, all in one, without a slightest tinge of conflict. In all these organizations, he started as an ordinary member and later became a leader.
This indicated the maturity of the highest order, which was shared by many leaders of his generation who played this role.
What was unique about these leaders was their deep understanding and high sense of responsibility to maintain unity and good relations amongst Alliance partners.
They were all sensitive to anyone who would act in a manner that would undermine this important attribute of our struggle.
The imperative of freedom and democracy has always prevailed as a strong thread that binds the Alliance, under the historical leadership of the African National Congress.
The ability of Oom Ray to belong to all components of the Alliance without contradiction reminds us of many other ANC leaders in the past, for example, Comrade Moses Mabhida.
He was a member and leader of the ANC, SACP and the SA Congress of Trade unions.
Addressing the funeral of Comrade Mabhida in Maputo, Mozambique on 29 March 1986, Comrade OR Tambo stated:
"It was part of Comrade Mabhida`s greatness that, having quite early on understood the importance of the unity of these great movements, he succeeded in ably serving each one of them individually, and all of them together, as a collective front for national and social emancipation??.
He added that Comrade Mabhida always worked to ensure that these formations respected one another and developed among them, a deep-seated feeling of revolutionary unity and interdependence.
Comrade OR Tambo stressed that:
"Moses Mabhida could take no other position because he had learnt and absorbed the lesson passed on to him and to us by the late Chief Albert Luthuli, that the ANC and SACTU were to each other a spear and a shield??.
In memory of our departed stalwarts such as Comrades Mabhida, Mhlaba, Chris Hani, Oom Govan Mbeki, Harry Gwala and others we should keep the revolutionary Alliance united, strong and focused on the goal of consolidating the gains of freedom and to build a better life for all of our people.
We should keep our people united behind the goal of building a prosperous, united and democratic South Africa.
Unity is paramount, as it has been since 1912. That is the task of the ANC as the leader of the Alliance and the task of ANC leadership at all levels.
It is also the mission of the leaders of the Alliance - to keep the ANC strong and united so that it can lead the Alliance and the country effectively.
At this juncture in our history, the Alliance is the only existing political entity that is capable of completing our mission of transforming our society.
The Alliance leadership carries the hopes and aspirations of the greatest majority of our country and beyond.
The unity of the Alliance is therefore paramount and fundamental.
Our duty is to unite the Alliance. That to us, is the effective leadership challenge of the 21st Century in our country, and we believe we are equal to the task.
I thank you!