< Back

Address by ANC President Jacob Zuma at January 8th Gala Dinner

8 January 2016, Sun City, Rustenburg

Comrades and friends,
Good evening to you all.

It is a great pleasure to be with you on the occasion of the 104th anniversary of the formation of the African National Congress.

As the oldest liberation movement on the continent, the ANC continues to carry the hopes and aspirations of the people of this country.

The movement was founded on this day in 1912 by men and women who sought to banish the divisions and jealousies among the people of this country and uproot the demon of racialism and tribalism.

They dreamed of a better society, one in which all would be equal, not only in law, but also in wealth and opportunity.

Today, more than a century later we continue to pursue that vision.

After a long and heroic struggle by the people of this country, we have realised the cherished goal of a democratic nation founded on the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism and equality.

We have declared, in the words of our beloved Madiba, that:

We have adopted a democratic Constitution with a Bill of Rights that recognises the equal worth of every person.

We have built democratic institutions through which our people can exercise their right to determine their own destiny.

We have reduced poverty and created opportunities for millions of our people.

And yet, despite this significant progress, there is much more we need to do to fully realise the vision of the founders of our movement.

There is much more we need to do to lift all of our people out of poverty, to ensure that all have education and skills, that all have work, and that all may live safe, secure and comfortable lives.

We have yet to correct the historical injustice of dispossession, economic disempowerment and exploitation.

We have yet to achieve a society in which the land is shared among those who work it.

It is for this reason that we have entered a new phase in our struggle, in which we have placed the achievement of radical economic transformation at the centre of all our efforts.

It is for this reason that we are all here tonight.

It is because you share this vision, because you also seek a South Africa in which all are equal, that you have joined us this evening to demonstrate your support.

We are grateful for your attendance this evening, for the contribution you have made, and for your continued confidence in this movement as the true representative of the aspirations of the people.

Earlier today, I met with traditional leaders to celebrate the anniversary. We did this correctly because traditional leaders played a key roel in the establishment of the ANC, and many were honorary Presidents.

Tomorrow, we will be gathering at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium to present the annual January 8th Statement of the National Executive Committee.

It will identify the central challenges, responsibilities and tasks of the movement for the year ahead.

As in previous years, it will provide a clear line of march for our structures, members and supporters.

At the centre of our work this year must be achievement of tangible progress in fundamentally transforming our economy to meet the needs of all our people.
We must do so in the face of difficult economic conditions.

We do not accept the notion that we must make a choice between growth and redistribution.

They must be pursued simultaneously and in concert.

An economy in which more people have skills, in which more people have access to capital, in which more people have access to health care, in which more people are lifted out of absolute poverty, in which more people have jobs, is an economy that has a greater capacity to grow.

Redistribution is a moral imperative.
It is also an economic imperative.

By excluding the majority of our people from ownership of the economy, by excluding them from the management of companies and from many professions, we are starving our economy of the human capital it needs to develop.

Faster growth is a necessary condition for redistribution. But it is not sufficient.

If we pursue growth for its own sake, without any meaningful transformation, we will simply be reproducing decades of inequality and entrenching racial divisions.

Therefore, in 2016, we will pursue with greater focus and intensity the measures that constitute the core of our economic development strategy.

Education and skills development will remain at the centre of this strategy.

We will build on the progress we have made in basic education, ensuring that the provision of adequate school infrastructure is matched by further improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.

We will continue to expand and improve post-school education.

This year, we mark the 40th anniversary of the Soweto student uprisings, in which the youth of this country confronted the injustices of apartheid.

We remember their struggle and their sacrifices.

The spirit of 1976 lives on in the youth of this country.

The protests by university students last year demonstrated the determination of the youth of this country to be engaged in all matters that affect their lives.

Through their actions, they brought onto the national agenda the critical issue of funding for higher education.

They highlighted the plight of poor students who struggle to access education. They drew attention to the central role that higher education plays in the development of the economy and society.

These protests took place in the wake of massive increases in state support to needy students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS.

Even with the increases over the last few years, we were still not able to meet the needs of all students from poor backgrounds. That underlines the extent of the challenge we face.

Working together with universities and other stakeholders, we have managed to mobilise the resources needed to fund a zero percent increase in fees in 2016.

Now we need to work together in a similar spirit of cooperation to find lasting solutions to this challenge. We will soon be announcing a commission to look at promoting access to higher education.

During the course of the year, we will continue our massive investment in economic and social infrastructure.

Through more effective coordination and focus we are managing to ensure that our expenditure on infrastructure is used more efficiently and has greater impact on jobs, localisation and the development of our industrial capacity.

This investment not only stimulates economic activity. It also provides the physical infrastructure that will enable us to grow our economy and meet our social needs.

Government will continue to support the process of industrialisation through, among other things, support to mineral beneficiation, the establishment of special economic zones, and sector-specific support programmes.

We will continue with initiatives like the Automotive Production and Development Programme, which has attracted private sector investment of over twenty five billion rand over the last five years.

Several large vehicle makers announced new investments in manufacturing capacity in the last year. We welcome these investments warmly.

As we start the year we are also reflecting on other areas that we must focus on. We will continue our efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public sector.

We are making progress in our work to strengthen state owned entities.

We have taken steps to stabilise those that have been experiencing difficulties and to assist them towards the achievement of financial sustainability.

We will continue to transform this sector to ensure that these entities are able to meet their economic and developmental mandates.

We will continue to manage public funds responsibly.

We will ensure that we spend within our means and that we keep public debt within manageable limits.

We will continue to direct public resources towards the poor and in pursuit of productive economic activity.

Through initiatives like the establishment of the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer we will reduce wastage, increase efficiency, benefit from economies of scale and reduce the scope for corruption.

Comrades and friends,

We also have a clear and unequivocal mandate from the South African people to implement the National Development Plan.

We are encouraged by the engagements that have taken place among all role-players in the mining sector to address the severe challenges facing the sector. We will continue this year to strengthen the implementation of the measures that have been agreed upon.

During the course of 2016, we will continue to use the Operation Phakisa methodology to bring together key stakeholders to develop groundbreaking strategies for growth and development.

Comrades and friends,

As we celebrate our one hundred and fourth anniversary, we will focus on the challenges and tasks of the movement.

We will continue this year to build the ANC and the Alliance.

We will emphasise the responsibility of ANC members and leaders to promote activism in society.

We expect our cadres to earn the respect of their peers and society at large through their exemplary conduct.

They must be informed by values of honesty, hard work, humility, service to the people and respect for the laws of the land.

We must work together to defeat patronage, the arrogance of power, bureaucratic indifference and corruption.

We must serve the people selflessly and tirelessly.

Comrades and Friends,

This evening we celebrate the achievements of the South African people.

We celebrate a glorious movement that has overcome the greatest challenges to lead the construction of a new society.

As we do so, we are aware that much hard work lies ahead.

We have much to do to achieve a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it, black and white.

We have much to do to overcome poverty, unemployment and inequality.

With your help, and with the support of all South Africans, we will continue to struggle, and we will not rest, until we have achieved a better life for all our people.

Happy birthday to the ANC!

I thank you.