The half-hour speech of Pityana at the funeral of his friend, reverend and former sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile, produced a no-holds-barred attack on President Jacob Zuma in Port Elizabeth that had social media in a buzz on Thursday.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and former finance minister Trevor Manuel were in attendance, along with other dignitaries, though perhaps fortunately for him, President Zuma was not. The president was meant to deliver the eulogy, but flew to Kenya instead.
Pityana said he wanted to tell Zuma what he felt in person, and regretted the fact that he wasn’t there, as he’d been expecting him.
Pityana said that Stofile would have pleased with Zuma to resign were he still alive. He asked the more than 10 000 mourners to push for a turning point for the ANC to rid itself of all its bad tendencies, including corruption and nepotism, so that it could return to its former glory.
Pityana expressed great anger at the current leadership of the ANC, particularly Zuma.
He said a lack of accountable leadership was what had cost the ANC power in three metros in elections this month.
“That our movement is in crisis is trite and it is beyond question. If you doubted it, look at what happened in the local government elections,” said Pityana.
He said the debate he had had with Stofile was why the ANC was in crisis and what could be done about it.
“One of the conversations we had at the break of this year with some of the few of his trusted comrades, was a very painful conversation. Soon thereafter, in April, we watched the constitutional judgment around the Nkandla saga.
“The president of the country made a statement in response to that judgment. We all congregated around the television in anticipation. It sounded like the second rubicon of FW de Klerk. He failed to rise to the occasion. Stofile appears to have confused FW de Klerk with PW Botha, who gave the Rubicon speech in 1985.
“I know we’re a movement in denial, for when we talk about why it is we are where we are, we say it is because of the negative and hostile media. Maybe it is.
“We say it is because Western governments are driving an agenda for a regime change. Maybe it is.
“We say it because of clever blacks who are ill-disciplined and arrogant. We say it is NGOs who are agents of foreign interests, but Comrade Stof would have none of it,” said Pityana, and the audience applauded.
He said cadres needed to be not only loyal but willing to ask “those difficult questions”.
He told the audience that the ANC had ceded the moral high ground to its opponents.
“Our setbacks are self-inflicted. We say we are a party of the constitution … but many doubt it because we give them reason to.
“No less a person than our president of our movement and our country takes every opportunity to show nothing but disdain and contempt for our constitution,” he said, again to applause.
“Which ANC is this without any conference resolution that makes statements that attacks judges as counter-revolutionaries? Which ANC is this?” said Pityana.
“We attack and undermine and show complete disdain for chapter 9 institutions; and by the way I need to remind you that as OR Tambo suffered a stroke, one of the chapters that he wrote as a precursor to this country was the conceptualisation of the notion of the chapter 9 institutions. If you don’t know that, go and read the Harare Declaration.
“Who are these leaders of today who don’t have a sense of that history?” said Pityana.
Stofile had passed away at his home in Alice‚ in the Eastern Cape‚ on Monday.