ANC lambasts ActionSA for banning use of ‘comrades’

The ANC plans to continue using the term “comrades” even after ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has opted to ban it.

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said ActionSA does not fully comprehend the magnitude of the term, noting that he is not surprised that Mashaba has banned the use of the term in his organisation.

“As the ANC, we will not surrender the term ‘comrade’ to those within and outside our ranks who dishonour the principles and values of our movement,” said Mabe.

“People who engage in corruption and other criminal acts have no place in our organisation and have no right to call themselves comrades. As the ANC undertakes the difficult task of renewing and revitalising our movement, we will continue to use the term ‘comrade’ to refer to those cadres who are truly committed to the liberation and advancement of the South African people.”

He added: “This latest populist stunt by the ActionSA leader goes to expose the fascist tendency that seems to be heavily engraved in the politics of ActionSA. The unfortunate danger of populist manoeuvres is their ability to deliberately mislead society, and this must be rejected with the contempt it deserves.”

Explaining the term, Mabe said it denotes a sense of common purpose, values, and solidarity for the ANC and many other “progressive movements” across the world.

He shared further that an attempt to associate “comrade” with “thugs and thieves” does a great disservice to many real comrades who continue to stand against corruption, patronage, and state capture.

“It is an insult to those committed cadres who, often at great risk to themselves, have exposed wrongdoing in SOEs [state-owned entities], municipalities, companies, and other institutions. It is an insult to the overwhelming majority of ANC and Alliance members who steadfastly reject all forms of corruption.”

Mashaba banned the use of the term in his party during an address on Tuesday when he announced that former ANC member Sello Lediga has joined ActionSA as chairperson of its Limpopo branch.

Mashaba said the term has developed a new meaning, which refers to “thugs and thieves” disguised as political leaders. “The term ‘comrades’ is banned in ActionSA. Comrades are thugs and thieves. If anyone calls you comrade, you refuse because they only call you comrade when they want to corrupt you,” he told his audience.

He suggested that ActionSA members use “actioner” instead of the widely used term in the political fraternity. “We are not communists, comrade is a communist term. In ActionSA, we are ‘actioners’.”

Meanwhile, Lediga, who joined ActionSA on Tuesday, is hopeful that the country would change under the leadership of his fellow actioners.

He said the aim is to grow ActionSA, making it the second-biggest party in the country. This after Mashaba had already praised his actioners for their good work in the province, saying the party is growing faster in Limpopo than in any other province.

“Our focus is 2024, we want to be second-biggest. That will only happen if we do our work in the province,” said Lediga.

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