The delegates at the Conference for a Democratic Future (CDF) were all filled with hope and excitement. Learn and Teach managed to speak to a few of them.
It was a busy day for the Learn and Teach news team. We were at the Conference for a Democratic Future (CDF), trying our best to speak to delegates about the conference.
We could only do this by joining in with whatever the delegates were doing. So, while we were shouting slogans and toyi-toying, we were also hard at work scribbling in our notebooks. And believe us, it is no easy thing to dance, sing, talk, shout “Awethu!” and write all at the same time!
A LONG WAY…
The first delegate we spoke to was Lawrence Moremi, a member of the Namakgale Youth Congress (NAYCO). He told us with a big smile -and in between a toyi-toyi! about the long trip the people from NAYCO had made to come to the conference.
“Namakgale is a village near Tzaneen in the Northern Transvaal,” he told us. “We travelled to the conference by bus together with delegates from other organisations. We were worried that we would have problems on the road but, except for the Lebowa Police who followed us in Jane Furse, there were none.
“I was so impatient on the way. I couldn’t wait to be here representing my people in a forum that will pave the shortest way to our liberation.”
Lawrence was surprised at how many people were at the conference. “I knew that many people were going to attend,” he said. “But I did not think that there would be such a great number. I really thank the Convening and the Working Committees which spent so many sleepless nights making this conference a success.
“I was especially happy to hear the former ANC Secretary-General, and great leader Walter Sisulu, speak. I could not attend the Welcome Home Rally in ‘Soccer City’, and I was so upset. But today I had the opportunity of listening to one of the leaders whose release I campaigned for,” he said, and disappeared into the huge crowd to join in with another toyi-toyi.
THE CONGRESS TRADITION
For many people the conference was a first ever. But not for the “old guards” of the struggle, those people who have fought against apartheid for many years. One of these people is Walter Menzi. Menzi was a member of the ANC and is now active in the Port Elizabeth Black Civic Organisation (PEBCO). We asked him to give us a few minutes of his time.
“The ANC has always been committed to the unity of all anti-apartheid forces,” he said. “And I am very proud to say that the MOM is following the Congress tradition of uniting the anti-apartheid forces.”
Menzi told us that the last time he saw Walter Sisulu was in 1958. “I am so pleased to be addressed by Sisulu again,” said Menzi excitedly. “Sisulu is still with the people and this means that he moves with the times. His speech shows that he still stands for the same ideals as when I first met him.”
At every political rally or meeting, there are always “people’s soldiers” or marshalls whose job is to see that there is order. They are also on guard in case the police decide to invade the meeting.
One of the “people’s soldiers” at the CDF, Gift Baloyi, took some time off from his tough job to speak to us. He is a member of the Soweto Youth Congress (SOYCO) in Chiawelo.
“We came here on Wednesday to prepare the hall for the conference,” he told us. “And yesterday we did not sleep because we had to spend the whole night checking the security in the hall.
“This is not a simple thing to do as there are people who can cause problems. For instance, yesterday a young white racist student – who was drunk – drove his car into the grounds. We stopped him and his girlfriend and asked them where they were going. The girl told her boyfriend to shoot us.
“One comrade got angry but we called him to order. We wanted to show those racists that the democratic forces were peaceful. We explained to them that we were not violent and asked them to go. But we felt very sorry for them when we realised that even though they are university students, they did not know anything about this historic conference that was to take place at their own university. ”
“THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN!”
The last person we spoke with was Jethro Dlalisa, an AZAPO member from the Orange Free State branch. Jethro is also an official of the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU).
“Although I have attended the last two Workers’ Summits, I think this conference is a once in a lifetime experience for me,” he told us in between an ear-splitting chant.
“It has been my wish for a long time that there be a working relationship between the Mass Democratic Movement and the Black Consciousness Movement. My wish has come true – the conference shows that unity among the anti-apartheid forces can be built. I wish that all organisations that are represented here can implement all the resolutions taken in this conference.”
“For my part, I am going to share everything I have learned in this conference with all my comrades in the Free State,” he said.
We at Learn and Teach are fully in support of the Conference for a Democratic Future. To us, it means that the anti-apartheid democratic organisations in this country have faith in their rank and file members. This also says a lot to us – that when the Freedom Charter says the “people shall govern”, our people – ordinary men and women – shall govern!