The ANC in the Northern Cape has admitted it has at times neglected its relationship with the family of its founding secretary-general Sol Plaatje.
This after the family expressed outrage after the provincial government erected a mesh fence around Plaatje’s grave at the West End Cemetery in Kimberley.
This was done ahead of a wreath-laying ceremony, expected to be led by ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, as the party marks 108 years since it was formed.
City Press reported last month that while some welcomed the move, along with the president paying homage to the iconic intellectual and journalist, others felt unhappy and disrespected, saying Plaatje’s grave had been touched without consent. The erected fence is said to have also been destroyed by some claiming to be members of the icon’s family.
The ANC’s Northern Cape secretary Deshi Ngxanga told journalists at a media briefing on Monday on the party’s programme of action leading up to its January 8 statement that the party had neglected the family.
“We must accept from the side of the ANC there was neglect, in particular the province, in interacting with the family, without necessarily waiting for major events. If you wait for major problems you are bound to get into a bit of trouble,” said Ngxanga.
He said they had found the process of building rapport with the family had not been an “easy one”.
“Where we make mistakes, we should acknowledge those mistakes, appreciate those mistakes and try to correct those mistakes,” said Ngxanga.
The ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, without getting into the “politics” among family members, said the party had reached out to Plaatje’s granddaughter Thuli Molefe Plaatje, who had shown them the correspondence between herself and the Northern Cape government since 2016.
“The agreement for the family for the government to restore and upgrade the gravesite, she agreed to that,” Duarte said to journalists. She said the party also spoke to the Plaatje family’s spokesperson, who has since given the ANC a programme which they want to be followed at the icon’s gravesite.
“[They were] keen for the president to continue with the laying of the wreath,” she said.
Meanwhile, the party has deployed all its national executive committee members, including its president, across the province. This would be to conduct door-to-door walkabouts and blitz meetings in a bid to mobilise for the big ANC January 8 statement rally at Tafel Lager Park stadium in the town on Saturday.
“January 8 is an opportunity for the ANC and the nation to take stock of the progress we have registered and to reflect on the road that lies ahead,” said Ngxanga.
“It is not an opportunity for bashes or displays of opulence and crass materialism.”
Ramaphosa will be in the Galeshewe and Frances Baard regions while his deputy David Mabuza has been deployed to ZF Mgcawu.
Treasurer general Paul Mashatile will be in the John Taolo Gaetsewe region, secretary-general Ace Magashule will be campaigning in the Pixley Ka Seme region and his deputy will also visit Frances Baard. ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe will be in Namakwa.
The party’s birthday rally will kick off at 9am on Saturday.