We are the chosen ones, we changed fate of African people in 1976, we must again today…Tom Moyane

By Pinky Khoabane


SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane speaking at the Progressive Professional Forum this week. The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has for the first time in SA’s history collected a Trillion Rand. He says his and the mission of his team is to make Paying Tax Cool. He is the Class of 1976. They are the brave youth of Soweto – whose ages ranged between 10 and 20 years old – children really. They are the chosen ones who changed the course of history. They gave us the freedom we have today. They are in government and lead State Owned Entities and are hounded….But they will not deceive the many who died for this freedom. They are the chosen ones who shall now give Africans the dignity for which they died. They shall give them the economic freedom which they so deserve. 

Here’s his full speech. Read, weep, be inspired to change the South Africa of racism, injustice, no matter how small your contribution. 

“History has brought us together to remember the role we played to change the fate of African people in South Africa and the continent.

We are gathered here today to bring back to our minds the tragic yet inspiring events of 40 years ago, the Soweto Upheavals of 16 June 1976.

We are urged and reminded not to forget to remember the young men and women, the dead and living that deserve honour and recognition, that risked and gave their lives in the name of liberation and freedom. It would be appropriate to quote Latin phrase by a Roman poet Horace which fits the times and journey we traversed:

Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori”

“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.

Many died in prisons, in combat, and many were maimed in the streets of Soweto, Gugulethu, Kwa Mashu, Mitchells Plain, Katenga, Matola, Maseru, Bulawayo, Lusaka, Paris, etc . Today South Africa is free. We are free. We are our own liberators!

We are gathered here, in Soweto where it all began on that historical day 16th June 1976, to remember, to honour in particular the brave students, young men and women, little boys and girls – between the ages of 10 and 20 – who, despite the threat and the violence of the most brutal military regime in Africa and the world, were not afraid.

We were not afraid. We were fearless. We would not be stopped from bringing a turning point in history. We were the ones history had chosen to assert African self-determination and the right to live in a just and equal society.

As young men and women, we were determined to assert our right to be treated as people with constitutional rights in our own country. We had made the decision that we would be free in our own lifetime. 

As one of us, the self-sacrificing cadre and revolutionary, Solomon Mahlangu said, My blood will nourish the tree of Freedom, tell my people I love them – A luta Continua”

Look at us, now.

It was a bold decision which when we look back today, changed the course of history in our country. We have always known, from a very young age, that our fate is in our hands.

The children of 1976 Soweto and the country in general – as we have come to be known – were good children. They were fully alive to their role in history. They knew that Nelson Mandela was in prison. They knew that Oliver Tambo was in exile. They understood that the liberation movement was banned.

It was their firmest conviction that they had to be their own liberators. It was a response to the rallying cry, Black man, you are on your own that prompted them to take action. They were stirred by the philosophy of Black Consciousness.

But they were not partisan. They were open-minded and receptive to all ideas. Some worked with underground operatives of the banned liberation movement, the ANC and the PAC. 

All that they learnt was to be selfless, self-sacrificing and vanguard of the revolution.

Thus they were willing to give their lives in an uprising that changed the course of history. They inspired the youth throughout the country to rise up against apartheid injustice, exploitation and oppression. 

Apartheid education system sought at all material times to reinstate a well-designed narrative of inferiority complex on the African child.

carter-g-woodsonIn his book titled Mis-education of the Negro Carter G Woodson “when you control a man’s thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him to stand here or go yonder. He will find his “proper place” and will stay in it. You do not have to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary. …. The Negro thus educated is a hopeless liability of the race.” The inferiority of the African is drilled into him in almost every class he enters and in almost every book he studies.

40 years later, those brave young men and women are gathered under this roof today. We have been brought back together to remember who we once were. Masingalibali ukuba sizalwa ngobani, ukuba singobani.

We are the custodians of the fate of African people. We are entrusted with the responsibility to bring about socio-economic transformation and change. Our mission is not yet complete.

History has shown us to be trendsetting leaders and pioneering visionaries. What we achieved – defeating the most brutal military regime known to human kind – was inconceivable to white supremacists. 

But with our courage, defiance and boldness, we did it. May Africa continue to bless us and give us courage. Our business is not yet finished. We have a serious job to do: to bring about economic transformation and socio-cultural change.

We did not fight to just defeat apartheid. What we fought for was more than just political freedom and one man one vote. Our ultimate political goal was – and remains – to bring about a society that would restore the dignityeconomic freedom and better life for all the African people. 

What we desired was a society that would create enabling conditions for African people – as individuals and collective – to take their future and fate into their own hands.

What we fought for was to wrestle economic power from a white minority capital that monopolized the land and wealth of this country. We wanted to take back that power to gradually build up a common society in which the historically disadvantaged would take their rightful place in leadership. This is what we fought for. 

Yes, we have political power. Our historical mission is not yet fulfilled. In carefully reading his inspiration insights by Woodson “In the schools of business administration Negroes (Africans my emphasis) are trained exclusively in the psychology and economics of Wall Street (JSE my emphasis)and are, therefore made to despise the opportunities to run ice wagons, push banana carts and sell peanuts among their own people. Foreigners, who have not studied economics but have studied Negroes (us my emphasis), take up this business opportunity and grow rich” leading to massive and rampant “xenophobia

It is now, more than ever, that we have to rededicate ourselves to the struggle for economic emancipation. After 22 years of freedom, even before, we have realized and know that political power without economic power means very little.

We are the chosen ones, as we grow older, to mount more pressure to make sure that our people get what they deserve: social justice and, above all, economic justice. 

Our people in Soweto and every corner of this country deserve the happiness of a full life.

But the young men and women of 1976 are, once again, under siege.  We know that they brought about the Kempton Park talks and CODESA that ultimately gave us 1994. This delivered the first democratically elected president of the country, our own global statesman, Nelson Mandela. 

We should not be deceived by these gains. The enemy that controls capital and the media has not rested. There is a full campaign underway to undermine and destroy the credibility of every leader who is a product of 1976.

As I look around this hall, what I see are icons and legends of the African struggle. These are visionaries and activists now in government and parastatals that are under unrelenting and hostile attack by the media. They are portrayed and projected as corrupt and incorrigible personalities who put their own individual interests first at the expense of the people. 

The enemy will not rest until they – the former leaders of 1976 – are broken men and women who scurry away looking for a place to hide, in shame. They are guilty until they prove themselves innocent. They will be pushed to the brink to commit suicide, resign or just give up. 

Today, many of them are distrusted by their own people. 

As Malcolm X said, beware of the media. It will have you loving your enemies and hating your own friends and family.

We are gathered here as comrades and friends, brothers and sisters to remind ourselves that the mission of 1976 is not yet fulfilled. 

If we do not remind ourselves about who we are, where we come from and what we have done, we will allow ourselves to be dissuaded and distracted from our historical mission. We must keep our eyes on the prize: economic justice for all our people.

Each of us has played his part. But the tasks that lie immediately ahead of us are in different circumstances. We are not faced with the same challenges that we faced 40 years ago when we were young men and women. 

It is easier to fight oppression than it is to define and establish freedom.

We have experienced in the past few months, a horrendous and unrelenting onslaught by supporters and beneficiaries of white monopoly capital how incapable, inept and corrupt the working Africans, this is aptly captured again by Woodson “Facing this undesirable result, the highly educated Negro (middleclass, beneficiaries of BEE deals, –my emphasis) often grow sour. He becomes too pessimistic to be a constructive force and usually develops into a chronic fault-finder or a complainant at the bar of public opinion. Often when he sees that the fault lies at the door of the oppressor whom he is afraid to attack, he turns upon pioneering Negro (African – my emphasis) who is at work doing the best he can extricate himself from uncomfortable predicament”

We are now in government. We need to be sufficiently focused, hardworking and disciplined not to forget what our historical mission. We cannot allow ourselves to be broken by the media.

Yes, we can reunite and hold each other’s’ hands. Let us call each other to order if we must. Let us remind ourselves of the pivotal role that we have all been called upon to play. Our historical mission is not yet complete.

For example, in the realization of this historical mission, SARS – the organization that has been entrusted to my leadership – has a vital role. The Revenue Service is the lifeblood of the state. It is the embodiment of the lifeline to the government. 

No government can meet or carry out its obligation to the people without an efficient and effective revenue service.

SARS has been rated as one of the best revenue agencies in the whole world. The people of Europe, Asia and the African continent, for example learn and know well that we have insight, knowledge and systems that can improve revenue collection in the whole world. This is a great achievement of the men and women – many of them from the 1976 generation – who are at the helm of the organization.

Let me remind you that for the first time in the history of SARS, we achieved the target of R1-trillion in revenue collection last year. This is great news for our government in these bleak economic times when we are faced with almost being reduced to junk status. 

Despite how we – the men and women of June 1976 – are portrayed, we are leading a government and a country that works.

We know who we are. If not, we are gathered here today to bring back to our memory and mind the events that happened 40 years ago. But our responsibility, focus and role have changed now. We are here to redefine a new mission that will see us determine the fate of our people, the country, the continent and the whole world for the next 40 years. Stand resolute in making a difference in pursuing profound the transformation agenda for our people especially the Black Professionals away from self-pity!

We are the ones that the world has been waiting for. We dare not fail. We should remind ourselves of our achievements. We have done well. But there is more work to be done. 

Thank You

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  1. Bua ngoana oa mo Afrika!! The lump of nostalgia in my throat is so painful, remembering those times ’76. We will never forget!! Aluta continua!!!

    1. Thanks for reading Lele. E bohloko taba e re leng ho yona ha jwale. Empa, lets not despair. Let’s not be distracted, lets focus on how we attain that dream, for which so many people died – political and economic freedom and dignity for all.


  2. Brilliant speech, quotes one of my best books by Godwin Carter Woodson, we will conquer eventually, the African spirit is indestructible

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