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Former President Thabo Mbeki,
Former President Jacob Zuma,
Chairperson of the Board of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, Cde Kgalema Motlanthe,
Principal of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, Cde David Masondo,
Members of the ANC National Executive Committee,
Members of the Board,
Cde Dali Tambo, representing the Tambo family,
Leaders of the ANC Women’s League, Veterans League and Youth League,
Members of the ANC Integrity Commission,
Representatives of the SACP, COSATU and SANCO,
Representatives of the Progressive Youth Alliance
Representatives of our fraternal parties Zanu-PF, the Jubilee Party, Frelimo, the Botswana Democratic Party and the Basotho National Party,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Comrades and Friends,

It is a great honour to address the launch of the OR Tambo School of Leadership, an institution that is set to play a critical role in the renewal and the rebuilding of the African National Congress.

We have established the OR Tambo School of Leadership to enable us to build cadres who will serve the people of South Africa better.

The establishment of this school fulfils a resolution of successive ANC conferences that the movement needs a dedicated institution that has a responsibility for cadre development.

It gives impetus, in particular, to the determination by the ANC’s 54th National Conference in December 2017 that the movement needs to deepen the political understanding and restore the revolutionary integrity of its leaders and cadres.

This follows a critical assessment by Conference delegates of the state of the organisation, the diminished capacity of its structures and the erosion of the values on which the movement was founded.

The Conference resolved on the need “to develop cadres, schooled in our values and policies, with the capacities to be agents of change wherever they are deployed.”

This is the role and the mission of the OR Tambo School of Leadership.

The Strategy and Tactics document adopted by the 54th National Conference goes further.

It says:

“For them to act as agents of change, ANC cadres need to be located in all [centres of social transformation], exercising leadership not by decree or through arrogance; but in terms of the logic of their ideas, through their organisational acumen and from exemplary conduct. Honesty, hard work, humility, ethics and respect for the people are some of the core attributes that they should evince.”

The tasks of our movement in this phase of our transition require cadres that have the ideological grounding, revolutionary morality and technical capabilities to function in a complex and evolving environment.

They must appreciate the relationship between consciousness and conscience.

The school is aimed at producing cadres who do not need to be compelled to do right, who put the movement and the country above their own personal interests.

These need to be cadres who understand the fundamental values and principles of our movement, cadres who reject all forms of intolerance and intimidation.

These are cadres who, like all of us, condemn in no uncertain terms the actions of those who disrupted a book launch in Johannesburg a few days ago and who call for books to be burned.

These are cadres who earn support for their views through the strength of their argument not through their capacity for thuggery.

What we witnessed earlier this week is not what the ANC stands for and never will.

This OR Tambo School of Leadership should produce cadres who are able to build organisational structures, to recruit and induct and develop new members.

They must be able to implement campaigns, to communicate effectively, to mobilise resources and take up the struggles of communities.

At the same time, they need to have a solid grasp of geopolitical developments, they must understand the functioning of an economy, they must be familiar with the mechanics of government and be adept at the practice of statecraft.

They need to develop a level of political consciousness that enables them, wherever they find themselves, to always advance the interests and needs of the people.

Whether on the shopfloor or in the boardroom, whether in the Union Buildings or local council offices, they should be guided by our responsibility to serve the interests of the poor and the vulnerable.

It is fitting that this Leadership School is named after Isithwalande Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the finest leaders to have served the South African people.

Cde OR was a leader who firmly believed in the development of cadres who combined revolutionary zeal with the political tools suitable to the conditions of the time.

As thousands of young freedom fighters left the country to join the ANC in exile, Cde OR recognised the value and necessity of education.

From the formation of the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Tanzania to political education in the camps of Umkhonto we Sizwe, Cde OR Tambo was adamant that the national liberation struggle required cadres of the highest consciousness and capabilities.

He was determined that every cadre should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and to make a meaningful contribution to the emancipation of our people.

This School of Leadership builds on the firm foundations of this tradition.

It builds too on the tradition of umrabulo on Robben Island, which turned a harsh and unforgiving prison into the country’s foremost university of revolution.

It builds on the legacy of the night schools that the Communist Party established as early as the 1920s and the political education programmes run by student organisations, trade unions, civic organisations and other formations of the mass democratic movement.

In establishing this School of Leadership, we are acknowledging that over the last 25 years of democracy we have not sustained these traditions.

The demands of governance, the pressures of incumbency and perhaps even the exhilaration of freedom meant that we have neglected the development of our cadreship.

This has manifested itself in organisational weaknesses and has contributed to the emergence of factionalism and corruption.

It has weakened our ability to provide effective and consistent leadership in government and across society.

The OR Tambo School of Leadership needs to play a pivotal role in correcting these shortcomings.

To be successful, it needs to start not with new recruits to the movement, but with its most seasoned and senior leadership.

It is the members of the National Executive Committee, beginning with the President, who need to demonstrate the absolute importance of cadre development and learning as a continuous process.

Nothing, not even political theory, is static.

It is therefore necessary that all cadres of the movement – no matter how long they have been in politics – continually sharpen their analytical skills, their understanding of the world and their technical capabilities.

Comrades and Friends,

South Africa has entered a new era of growth and renewal.

We are hard at work to revitalise our economy and restore our public institutions.

However, if we are to realise our objective of radical economic transformation, we need to significantly accelerate the pace of economic growth and job creation.

We need to wield the power of the state more effectively to tackle poverty and inequality, to reduce crime and improve public services.

We need to do this in a rapidly changing global environment, where the ability to adapt and compete is an increasingly vital determinant of a country’s progress.

This has huge implications for the ANC and the democratic movement, which need cadres who understand the implications of the revolutionary changes in technology just as well as they understand the changing nature of the global economy.

We need cadres who can combine an understanding of balance sheets and bond yields, blockchain and biotech, with a revolutionary consciousness that harnesses the power of technological change to improve the lives of the poor.

We need cadres who not only understand the policies of the movement, but have the knowledge, creativity and insight to craft new policies for a new age of development.

This is among the responsibilities that falls to the OR Tambo School of Leadership.

Just as we ensure that our cadres are schooled in the history of struggle, this School of Leadership should be integrally involved in determining the future of our struggle.

As a revolutionary movement, we are grounded in our past, but our eyes are firmly set on the future.

To grow and sustain cadre development, we all need to support the School.

For this reason, I appeal to all members and supporters to make financial contribution to the School.

In conclusion, allow me to quote Cde OR Tambo when he delivered the January 8th Statement of 1985, which the ANC declared the Year of the Cadre.

He said:

“Who are these revolutionary cadres about whom we speak? Where are they? They are not special people. It is we – men and women, young and old, black and white – who are involved in daily struggles, making sacrifices in pursuit of the people’s cause.

“It is we, the workers in the factories, the mines, the farms, the commercial establishments and offices of various kinds; we, who work in health and educational services as well as those of us occupied within the residential areas.”

He continued:

“The distinctive feature of the revolutionary cadre is a high level of discipline, dedication and courage in carrying out the tasks assigned by the movement. Such cadres are guided by our goal of a united, non-racial and democratic South Africa.”

As we launch the OR Tambo School of Leadership, there can be no better description of the revolutionary cadres it must school, nor any better description of the objectives it should advance.

This School is evidence of the seriousness with which the ANC takes the task of building capable leaders, cadres and public representatives.

The ANC is continually seeking to improve its ability to serve the people of this country, which is one of the compelling reasons why we are calling on all South Africans to vote for the ANC on 8 May.

Through this School, let us develop agents of change.

And let us grow South Africa together.

I thank you.

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