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DECLARATION OF THE 49TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF
THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

Bloemfontein, December 1994

We, men and women, young and old, black and white, representing all sectors of our population and the majority of our people, having participated dynamically in the 49th national conference of the ANC, hereby declare for our people, country and the world to know:

that we are inspired by the magnificent victory of democracy over apartheid oppression and racism; proud that we have redeemed the 1912 pledge of our political forebears to free our country from colonialism. At last our nation can be assured of equality and human dignity.

This the 49th National Conference is the first in a free and democratic South Africa. We are acutely aware that overwhelming victory is only the beginning of the process of transforming our country. We are conscious of our responsibility to lead the country to reconstruction, reconciliation and nation-building.

In this regard we recognise the sterling role played by ordinary men and women in the battle against apartheid tyranny and applaud the role that the masses of our people have played in ensuring their own liberation.

Today we can unreservedly proclaim that the ANC is the only true guardian of democracy, freedom and equality in our country. In addition the ANC and its leadership, in particular President Nelson Mandela, have established for all to see that we care for our country and all its people. The President, the Government of National Unity and Provincial Governments in which the ANC enjoys a majority and in the two provinces where we are in the minority, are acknowledged as the political standard-bearers of our new democracy.

Ours has been the responsibility to ensure maximum national consensus, stability and peace. Ours has been the task to reassure all sections of our country that they have a common and prosperous destiny to share in the land of their birth.

As we look back on the past three years, we echo President Mandela`s words:

"There can be no gainsaying that the approach to use the negotiations process to capture beach-heads within the power equation; and then proceed to strengthen our forces from a new vantage point, helped speed up the process to the great achievements we celebrate today. The challenge we face ... is whether we are utilising the new positions we occupy effectively to bring about fundamental transformation."

We are aware that new responsibilities and challenges face us.

It is from a new vantage point that we enthusiastically and in unity meet the challenge of fundamental transformation in South Africa. Conscious of the fact that the legacy of apartheid permeates every facet of South African society and that apartheid power was diffused throughout the structures of society, we commit ourselves to true and full liberation which will ensure the removal of every vestige of apartheid past.

Our decisive victory in April represented the most fundamental strategic breakthrough in the history of our struggle for national liberation. The key objective of the struggle remains the attainment of majority rule and the building of a united, non- racial and non-sexist society. This must include the fundamental transformation of all aspects of our society. Accordingly, we reaffirm the liberation of the black people in general and the Africans in particular, as the main content of our national democratic revolution. We are firmly convinced that the total liberation of the black majority, including the Coloured and the Indian communities, in our land represents the only viable path towards lasting stability and prosperity. Further, this is the only way we can secure lasting peace for all our people, including our white compatriots, who are beginning to experience real freedom and security under our emerging democracy.

In pursuing the transition to democracy, there still remain two immediate and critical tasks, namely, the writing and adoption of the new constitution and the looming local government elections. As the level of government nearest to the people local government is crucial in transforming and redressing the historical apartheid imbalances within its area of jurisdiction and promoting balanced and equitable urban and rural development so as to build a better life for all. In this regard, we commit ourselves to a transparent and inclusive process that will guarantee a decisive victory in all local authorities and strengthen our organisation.

We rededicate ourselves to building national unity and achieving social justice, peace and prosperity for all. We take this opportunity to once more declare our unwavering loyalty and dedication to the noble cause our liberation movement has championed over the decades. We therefore commit ourselves to working with our people so as to join hands in implementing the RDP and ending the misery under which the majority live.

The liberation of black people remains incomplete. We therefore reaffirm the character of the ANC as a broad-based national liberation movement. This must however take into account the reality that we are in government. Our role in government should reinforce the ANC`s continuing role as a broad based movement, capable of organising and mobilising the broad mass of our people. On the other hand our character as a broad-based movement should facilitate the implementation of government programmes to transform our society.

We remain one united movement acting together in pursuit of common goals regardless of where our members are deployed. In this regard we are committed to the attainment of these central objectives:

  • to deepen democracy and establish a culture of human rights
  • to achieve the full emancipation of women
  • to redirect state resources
  • economic growth, job creation and rational utilisation of resources
  • concrete and visible programmes in relation to a national health system; affordable housing; food security; job creation; water supply and sanitation and education and training.
  • to implement agrarian reform and a rural development programme
  • to secure democracy through transformation of the state machinery - particularly the civil service, the army, and the police
  • to promote the integrity of South Africa and ensure that in bringing government closer to the people we do no encourage the balkanisation of the country.

All the above can only be possible if our democracy and the economic system underpinning it are people-driven and people- centred in an atmosphere free from violence and criminality. To that end we commit ourselves to working together with other peace- loving South Africans in order to bring safety, security and peace to all communities.

To accomplish these tasks we are mindful that we need a strong, vibrant and democratic ANC. Furthermore we must strengthen the tri-partite alliance and our relations with the civic movement; and we will nurture the united front of all those who are committed to the attainment of a democratic, non-racial, non- sexist and united South Africa.

We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the people of the Southern African region, the African continent and the world for the solidarity they have shown and we are convinced that we can continue to rely on their support as we build our new democracy. At the same time we pledge solidarity with peoples still fighting for liberation and hope that they too will soon join the world