THINGS that the ANC does, statements it makes, policies it formulates, and the conduct of its members and leaders have a direct effect in communities and on the general populace of our country. When we vote our leaders into office we do so also for our South African society.
It is an act with societal implications. The ANC cannot lead society if its image within that society is not what it should be. For right and/or for wrong reasons our public image continues to be put in the spotlight.
The ANC cannot continue explaining its decisions to communities and always defending its leaders' choices in the public domain.
If we are leaders of society we cannot dismiss or conveniently forget the question: what do people think of us? It is critical that all leaders know that when moments of nomination come, one of the factors through which they are going to be measured is the contribution in enhancing or diminishing the image of the ANC in society.
This of course is very much one of the subjective factors, but perceptions become real in the minds of many people if they don't see any efforts to rectify them. Our road to Mangaung provides us with the opportunity to polish our national and public image.
We need to restore that image of an ANC with discipline, campaigning, trustworthiness and good moral standing.
Equally true is the youth factor within the ANC. In pursuance of their view or demand or request, the youth will sometimes be reckless, stumble or utter unfortunate statements.
What we need to focus on is their message, apply our minds to that, and compel them to focus on core and substance issues. We must not send a message of impatience and dismissiveness when we are confronted with youth demands.
We did not do that a couple of years ago when we were confronted with proposals of gender representativity in the structures of the ANC. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, among other women, led that debate in the ANC to its realisation.
Matters of leagues within the ANC and their periodic demands sometimes for policy shifts and sometimes for operational adjustments are here to stay, and we just need to handle them with maturity and circumspect.
The demand from the youth for a generational mix is not, in itself, an unreasonable proposal.
Internationally and in South Africa today more and more younger people are occupying positions of leadership and responsibility. We in the ANC cannot insulate ourselves from these social developments, but should rather be responsive, as we did with the question of women.
Our road to Mangaung provides us with another opportunity to deploy a young person who our youth could identify with. This will help to stabilise the organisation, give it organic growth and assist us in focusing on other important social matters.
We need to move forward and pass this debate to history.
If the top six of our NEC from Mangaung are not reflective of different interests within the ANC and we just hope to rely on mobilising numbers against another interest group, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot and in the long term that approach will come to haunt the ANC.
The top six are a small number but used wisely and with the interest of the ANC at heart, at least it can help us send a message of unity, tolerance, continuity and image building.
The top six are constituted of four offices: the presidency, the secretary-general, the treasury and the national chairperson. Each of the four offices needs to be put under scrutiny in this debate, and see how we assess and appraise it.
In doing so we must use the opportunity to accommodate these different interest groups to undermine this emergence of factionalism in the organisation.
We think of Oom Ray Mhlaba, OR Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Oom Gov Mbeki, Harry Gwala and the like. Their impeccable leadership inside the ANC and in society truly won us admiration and respect of both the poor and the wealthy.
Their ability to unify all interest groups in the ANC never made us think of possible factional tendencies. Their ability and wisdom of timing, their handing over the baton of leadership protected unity and integrity of the ANC in the public discourse.
Please let us be wise and appeal to ANC branches to use this opportunity to unite the ANC and to restore its pride.
NC Faku, ANC regional chairman