ANC Veterans League


Speech delivered by President of the ANC Veterans League - Dr Snuki Zikalala at the wreath laying ceremony in Port Elizabeth


6 November 2017

Programme Director,
Members of the National Executive Committee,
PEC Executive members of the Veterans League,
Comrades, friends and family members of those who selflessly fought for a better tomorrow.

It is a singular honour for us as members of the Veterans League to be given an opportunity to pay tribute to these gallant fighters of the struggle for the liberation of South Africa. It is 53 years since the heroes of our struggle, Vuyisile Mini, Wilson Khayingo, Zinakile Mkaba, Nolali Mpentse, Daniel Ndongeni and Samuel Jonas were summarily executed on that fateful day of 6 November 1964. Their cardinal sin was that they fought fearlessly for political and workers' rights.

In particular, we made mention of Comrade Mini, who was known as the 'organizer of the unorganized'. It is largely because of his tireless efforts to organize workers across the Eastern Cape in the 1950's. He was tasked by the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU) to organize the metal workers. Subsequently he became the Metal Workers' Union secretary.

It is generally acknowledged that there is no nobler cause in the life of revolutionaries than the fight for the liberation of mankind. May I add to these prophetic words, that there is no loftier goal in the life of revolutionaries than to pay the supreme sacrifice for the liberation of one's people, of one's country. Comrade Mini and his fellow comrades distinguished themselves as some of the most illustrious and courageous sons of Africa.

Their stories of bravery are yet to be told in full, lest we carelessly forget to capture these chronicles that define our struggle, our history, our Africanness. Indeed, we shall be that generation which will be indicted by those that come after us, for having shirked our responsibility of keeping the memory of our forebears alive.

Please allow me to address our fallen heroes with the humility but directness that they would understand. Cdes Mini, Khayingo, Mkaba, Mpentse, Ndongeni and Jonas, we stand before you on this day in your memory. We are not perfect, we are human and have made serious mistakes. We have disappointed society which has given us an opportunity to govern on their behalf.

Cdes Mini, Khanyingo, Mkaba, Mpentse, Ndongeni and Jonas, it is befitting to report that our glorious organization which you laid your lives for is facing serious political and economic crises.

Owing to factionalism, corruption, gate keeping, patronage, buying of votes and the inadequate delivery of services, some communities have turned their backs on us. Some of our traditional alliance partners have decided not to invite our president to their official imbizos. Also, some churches have distanced themselves from our glorious organization and have called us an illegitimate government, even calling for national elections to be held soon.

During the 2016 elections Local Government elections we lost Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg municipalities.

Our unemployment rate has increased by 27.7% from 26.5 per cent in the previous period. It is the highest rate since the first quarter of 2004 as the unemployment rose faster than employment. It is expected that 7.2 million people would be out of jobs by the end 2018.

Manufacturing has declined by 50,000, followed by construction with 30 00 and agriculture by 25 000.

10.3 million young people between the age 15 to 24 are currently battling with unemployment. What is shocking is that 57.4 per cent of youth do not have matric which results in an unemployment rate of 36.6 per cent.

State Owned Enterprises like Eskom, SAA, Denel, SABC, Prasa, Transnet and Post Office are in serious crisis.

Cdes Mini, Khanyigo, Mkaba, Mpentse, Ndongeni and Jonas as you are laid to rest at Emlotheni Memorial Park which is one of our honoured heritage sites, we wish to assure you that it is not all gloom and doom.

At our last Veterans League conference held from 13 to 15 October, we resolved to revive the league and reaffirmed its role as the custodians of the ANC's values and policies.

We will make full and rich contributions to the work of the ANC and to the life of the nation.

We support the National Consultative conference to be held from 17 to 19 November at the Constitutional Hill as an indication of our commitment to help build unity in the Movement.

To this end, the Veterans League, at its last Executive conference resolved to initiate unity discussions with COSATU, SACP, SANCO and Church organizations.

For us to convince society to give us another chance to govern on their behalf, we call on our people to elect leaders who are credible and beyond reproach.

We need to get rid of the perception that the ANC is a corrupt organization.

We dare not disappoint our heroes - those comrades who went to the gallows singing with pride our revolutionary songs. We will do it for the sake of our country, our children, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren.

As we dip our revolutionary banner in memory of our fallen comrades, we promise to double our efforts to ensure that the unity that our people yearn for is realized in our lifetime.