1999 National Elections Manifesto - Together, in every Sector, fighting for Change
Five years of freedom have brought new rights, new possibilities and new opportunities for every sector of our society - for the young and the aged, for professionals and rural people, for workers and employers. The ANC has the policies in place for us to build a better life together. We remain committed to the policies which are contained in the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The next 5 years will therefore reflect continuity in our policy direction.
But the Government and each sector of our population have to do more and do it better so that we can all quicken the pace of change. How do we consolidate these policies, and what challenges face each of the sectors?
A Better Life For Women
For the first time ever, the rights of women have been guaranteed by law. Government institutions such as the Gender Commission have been established to continue the fight for the all-round emancipation of women. Our programmes have resulted in a sharp increase in the numbers of women who occupy decision-making positions in all spheres of society.
- Pregnant mothers have been given access to free health services
- Rural infrastructure is being improved to free women from back-breaking chores
- The public housing programme and the transformation of hostels into family dwellings are beginning to foster safe environments in which to bring up families.
Increasingly, women themselves are playing a leading role in their own liberation as part of the overall transformation of our country.
A Better Life For The Youth
- Government institutions such as the Youth Commission have been established for advancing youth interests, with youth themselves serving on them
- The transformation of education includes: youth participation in the governance of educational institutions, and funding programmes to ensure opportunities for youth disadvantaged by poverty
- Job creation programmes, including public works initiatives and the Umsobomvu Fund, focus on youth
- Special measures have been introduced to rescue young offenders, caught up in crime in early years, from becoming habitual criminals
- More than any other sector, the youth of our country are threatened by the spread of HIV/AIDS. We have introduced a major campaign focused on youth to increase awareness and to foster responsible and informed life-styles among the young people of our country.
Together, let us advance the National Youth Service programme, and let us build a vibrant youth culture of solidarity, service and patriotism.
A Better Life For Workers
The ANC believes workers are entitled to a fair share of the wealth they produce. No longer should they be treated as objects of exploitation, to be discarded when years of labour have sapped their strength.
Over the last 5 years, in the face of opposition, the ANC has among other things ensured:
- Through the Constitution and such laws as the Labour Relations, Basic Conditions of Employment, Employment Equity and Skills Development Acts, that workers have been guaranteed constitutional and legal rights to organise and defend their interests; to strike; to acquire skills and to take part in decision-making at the work-place
- Organised workers are able to take part in the formulation of national policy through the National Economic, Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and other forums
- New laws have been introduced to guarantee decent working conditions, the prohibition of child labour, and an end to all kinds of discrimination at the workplace
- Measures have been introduced to assist workers when they lose their jobs and to protect them against exploitation as casual or temporary workers; and, even more critically, new programmes have been put in place to urgently and radically reduce unemployment and retrenchments
- Steps have been taken to put in place greater control by workers over their savings accumulated in pension and provident funds
- In the public sector, radical measures have been adopted to reduce the apartheid wage gap.
To strengthen their voice, workers need to join and consolidate their trade unions, and unite across race and other barriers. Their organisations must improve the capacity to formulate and influence policy. More of the savings that workers command should be invested in job-creation projects and in the improvement of social services. In their mobilising activity, workers should maintain the tradition of disciplined struggle.
A Better Life For Business People
The ANC recognises that South Africa`s business people are critical partners in the development of our country. Over the last 5 years we have, amongst many things:
- Removed apartheid barriers hampering economic growth and development, and introduced better conditions for investment
- Given organised business the possibility to co-determine socio-economic policies, by participating in the National Economic Development and Labour Council, and numerous other sectoral forums
- Reduced conflict in the work-place by implementing an effective labour relations system
- Increased government assistance to business people to participate in the African and world economy
- Created conditions for the participation of black people and women in the economy as entrepreneurs and owners of wealth, and encouraged the growth of small and medium business.
But sustained economic growth and opportunity require commitment from the business community as well. They need to invest more in productive and job-creating enterprises; and the financial sector should extend more credit to small and medium enterprises. This requires a commitment to the RDP vision that sustainable growth, productivity and competitiveness are inextricably linked to infrastructural development, job creation and the advance of skills and training. Business-people also need to actively counter negative tendencies - corruption, tax evasion, and anti-South African pessimism.
A Better Life For Rural People
The ANC has ended the practice of using the countryside as a dumping ground where rural people are subjected to poverty and abuse, denied their citizenship and dignity.
- The ANC has made great strides in providing clean water, electricity, telephones, better rural roads, new classrooms and sports and recreation facilities. In this process, thousands of jobs were created, including for women and young people
- We have changed radically the legal conditions of farm-workers, including working conditions and security of tenure
- Progress has been made in changing the imbalance in the ownership of land, through land restitution and redistribution, schemes of co-ownership of farms, right of ownership of communal land, and opening doors for black commercial farmers
- Opportunities have been increased for white commercial farmers to become more efficient and to enter international markets.
The challenge is to speed up these programmes. And this requires, among others, that rural communities work together to utilise new opportunities, to protect projects and new facilities, to call their Councillors and other representatives to account, and to join local government in identifying priorities in our communities.
A Better life for Traditional Leaders
- Liberation has established the possibility to restore the dignity of traditional leaders, to give meaning to the principle that they are leaders because of the people
- New national and provincial houses of traditional leaders make it possible for traditional leaders to help determine provincial and national policy.
The challenge before all of us is to continue redefining the role of traditional leaders in a democratic and developing society, to ensure that they play their role in partnership with elected institutions, for the development of communities. We call on traditional leaders, our indigenous symbols of continuity, to be active participants in the fostering of the progressive and humanist elements of African culture and traditions.
A Better Life For Children
- For the first time, the rights of all our children have been guaranteed by law
- Free access to health facilities for the very young have been provided, and infant mortality has been reduced
- A comprehensive immunisation programme, and a feeding scheme to counter malnutrition in schools have been introduced
- The child grant has been extended to African children
- Special attention is being given to the problem of street children.
Today, all of our children can grow up together, no longer separated by apartheid`s walls. Together, let us ensure that these advances are consolidated.
A Better Life For The Aged
Freedom has restored the dignity of senior citizens, and accorded them the respect they deserve. No longer should they be humiliated in the land of their birth. The ANC is implementing programmes which address the plight of the aged, particularly in poor communities:
- The extension of equal old aged pension grants to all old people, removing the racial discrimination of the past, and improvements in the system of payment have been introduced
- Public health care has massively improved the lives of the aged - through the building of clinics in remote areas and special health care projects like free cataract operations and distribution of wheelchairs.
- Programmes have been introduced to de-racialise old age homes, and to reintegrate care of old people into communities.
With the special focus in this International Year of the Aged and into the future, we all need to pay increased attention to how the aged can play an even greater role in the life of the nation. It is critical that the aged themselves form, and improve the operations of, their organisations to give guidance on this and other matters.
A Better Life For Professionals
Freedom has opened up many opportunities for South Africa`s professionals, NGO`s, cultural workers and sports-people. Through policies of empowerment and consistent non-racialism, the ANC has:
- Made it possible for every professionally qualified person to rise to higher levels, to exercise their creativity, and to contribute to the development of the country; access to universities and technikons has improved, and a new qualification framework has been introduced
- Ensured that all professionals without discrimination are able to participate in the formulation of government policy, and in working with their peers to build a better world
- Made sure that sports-people have access to improved amenities and to opportunities previously denied the majority. Today they can compete with the best in the world
- Opened up the world to our artists, and broadened access to opportunities which allow creativity free reign
- Opened up the airwaves and created conditions for media workers to undertake their work without restrictions.
But it is critical for professionals to continually improve their work, to systematically contribute to the programmes aimed at uplifting conditions of the poor, and to join hands with their peers in Africa to assist in the continent`s renewal. Students face the challenge to use the new opportunities with responsibility. In the professions, in sport, in the arts and music, we should improve our organisations, ensure better management of resources; and ensure that we reflect, in its rich diversity, our nation`s effort to build a better life.
A Better Life for the Disabled
- For the first time ever, the rights of the disabled have been guaranteed by law
- A comprehensive government programme has been adopted for the empowerment of the disabled; and legislation now prohibits discrimination at the workplace
- Today, the disabled themselves serve actively on government bodies to promote the interests of the disabled. The ANC has made provision on our election candidates lists for representation of the disabled in our country`s legislative bodies.
Together, let us continue to fight for a life of dignity and fulfilment for all.
With Communities Of Faith - For A Better Life For All
- For the first time ever, all faiths receive equal recognition and treatment. The new South Africa that we are building together is founded upon the moral principles of equality, solidarity and the right to dignity for all
- The ANC`s Reconstruction and Development Programme represents a fundamental policy choice for the poor and historically downtrodden, a choice that most communities of faith have themselves made.
The struggle to build a better future for all requires, not just material transformation, but an RDP of the Soul. The ANC calls upon all communities of faith, to be active partners in shaping our moral vision, and in fostering the moral renewal of our society.
To protect the freedoms that we have won, and to make progress in the fight for a better life requires that all sectors join hands behind a common national vision for the coming years.