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Declaration of the 48th National Conference of the African
National Congress

Durban, 6 July 1991

We, participants at this 48th National Conference of the ANC, representing
a cross section of South African society: workers, students, the rural
masses, intellectuals, religious communities, business-persons - men and
women, young and old, black and white - hereby adopt this declaration as
our collective message to our country and to the world.

  1. This 48th National Conference of the ANC, comes at a time when our
    country and its people are poised to commence the last leg of our long
    struggle to bring an end to minority domination and usher in an era of
    democracy and peace. The people`s hopes for freedom, social justice, democracy
    and peace stand higher than at any time during this century. As a result
    of the struggles and sacrifices of the people,- the moment for the final
    eradication of the hated system of white domination has dawned.
  2. We remain convinced that the only real hope for the future of our country
    and its people lies in the creation of a democratic society based on humane
    values. These values - government of the people, by the people and for
    the people - have been kept alive and survived in our country thanks to
    the sacrifices of millions of our people against the tyranny of white domination.
    We salute the people of South Africa, who have over many decades waged
    unrelenting struggle, undaunted by repression and other adversities. We
    pay tribute to all the patriots who have fallen in the cause of this noble
  3. The possibility of eradicating apartheid by peaceful means has emerged
    through our struggles. The overwhelming majority of South Africans are
    convinced that the process of peaceful transition to a democratic future
    must proceed with all deliberate speed.
  4. In this regard, we reaffirm our unambiguous commitment to exploring
    every possible avenue to resolve by peaceful means the problems of our
    country. It is this commitment which persuades us that a climate of peace,
    free of formal or informal repression, is essential for the transition
    from apartheid to democracy. We reiterate our full support for the OAU
    Harare Declaration and the Open Letter to the regime, issued by the National
    Executive Committee on April 9th, and call on the government to address
    these issues with immediate effect.
  5. We note with alarm the continuation of vigilante violence perpetrated
    by agencies of the state against black communities. Even as conference
    continued with its deliberations, numerous attacks, including against families
    of conference delegates, took place. A climate of fear, doubt and uncertainty
    pervades our country. We refuse to submit to the temptations of despair
    induced by the enemies of democracy, justice and peace, who have over the
    past 18 months subjected our country, especially the Natal and PWV regions,
    to an unprecedented level of violence and bloodletting with a view to derailing
    the search for peace and postponing indefinitely the establishment of a
    democratic non-racial state.
  6. We are no longer prepared to accept pious words of peace, while the
    government, its supporters and its surrogates pursue a policy of violence
    and death against the people and their democratic movement. The patience
    and forbearance of the people have been sorely tested and we demand that
    President De Klerk and his government demonstrate, in deeds, that they
    share our commitment to peace and reconciliation. We express our unqualified
    support for the initiative of religious and business leaders to facilitate
    the process towards the adoption and implementation of binding multilateral
    agreements aimed at ending the scourge of violence.
  7. The removal of all the obstacles to free political activity will open
    the way for speedy movement on the crucial questions of the transition
    and the democratic future. We therefore welcome back to the ranks of active
    struggle the cadres of our movement and the people`s army, Umkhonto we
    Sizwe who have recently been released. We note however that many other
    patriots, including those on Death Row, remain in apartheid dungeons. We
    demand their immediate and unconditional release and the granting of general
    amnesty to all exiles. The atmosphere necessary for free political activity
    and negotiations cannot emerge without these measures, the repeal of all
    repressive legislation and an end to the violence. The regime must honour
    the solemn undertakings it made in both the Groote Schuur and Pretoria
  8. This will open the way to a period of transition which must be supervised
    by a sovereign and impartial body and during which the masses of the people
    will take an active part in the formulation of the basic law of the land.
    We remain committed to the call for an Interim Government and a Constituent
    Assembly elected on the basis of one-person, one-vote on a non-racial voters`
    roll. We are committed to work out and communicate to the nation our detailed
    positions on all these issues as soon as possible. With the clearing of
    obstacles to normal political activity, we will strive to ensure the convening
    of the All Party Congress without undue delays.
  9. We, together with the majority of South Africans are committed to the
    advancement of the struggle within the context of the new situation. This
    struggle is vital because victory has not yet been won, the danger of repression
    continues to loom over the people and the possibility of a derailment of
    the negotiations process exists. Therefore, we will continue to strengthen
    the people`s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe both as a force indispensable to the
    defence of the people and in preparation for the creation of a truly national
    army of a democratic South Africa; to maintain such underground formations
    as are necessary; to intensify mass organisation and mobilisation and to
    ensure the continued engagement of the international community in the common
    offensive against the criminal system of apartheid.
  10. We reiterate our adherence to the principles of a united, non-racial,
    non-sexist and democratic South Africa as enshrined in the Freedom Charter.
    These include the guarantee of the fundamental human rights of all South
    Africans, reinforced by an entrenched Bill of Rights, a multiparty system
    of government, a representative and independent judiciary and regular elections.
    However, these rights will be meaningless without the fundamental restructuring
    of the economy to serve the interests of the people and far-reaching reforms
    in the areas of land distribution, housing education, health, welfare and
    so on.
  11. The main goal of the struggle is the liberation of our people from
    the system of national oppression. The ANC remains a national liberation
    movement committed to the transfer of power to the people as a whole. We
    do not act simply in the narrow interest of the ANC as a political organisation.
    Our mission, hand-in-hand with other democratic forces, is to rid South
    Africa of the scourge of apartheid in all its manifestations.
  12. We reaffirm our commitment to the deepening of democracy within our
    ranks. The preparations for this Conference and the open and free exchange
    of ideas in its sessions have reinforced the unity and coherence of our
    movement. They have also planted the seed which will germinate in the development
    of a democratic political culture in our society.
  13. We reaffirm the ANC`s non-sexist policy and commit ourselves to urgently
    to further develop mechanisms of addressing the serious challenge of women`s
    emancipation in society at large, including our own ranks.
  14. In order to ensure that all our people act as a united force to achieve
    the common goal of a democratic society, we commit ourselves to the strengthening
    of the tri-partite alliance of the ANC, COSATU and the SACP. We also pledge
    to continue our efforts to build a broad patriotic front of all forces
    committed to the attainment of a united, non-racial and democratic society.
  15. We, the delegates assembled at this 48th National Conference of the
    ANC call upon all our people to join hands in the struggle for democracy
    and peace in our land. We reach out to workers, youth and students, the
    rural masses, traditional chiefs, artists, sports-persons, religious communities,
    intellectuals, business-persons and others. We call on our white compatriots
    to take active part in the efforts to build a just and democratic future
    for all our people. We reach out in particular to the security forces and
    call on them to support and defend the process of peaceful transition to
    democracy, acting in support of the aspirations of the people.
  16. We are inspired by the presence at our conference of 450 foreign guests,
    drawn from 57 countries in every continent of the world. Their presence
    here underscores the wide-ranging international support our cause has won.
    We express our profound appreciation of the contribution made by these
    friends of our people to the anti-apartheid struggle in the past and are
    equally confident that this shall continue into the future. We call on
    the international community to maintain its isolation of apartheid South
    Africa and intensify its support for the forces of democracy and peace
    in our country.
  17. Our country has entered a period of decisive movement towards her redemption
    from years of cruel oppression and repression. We are conscious of the
    heavy responsibility on the African National Congress and the people in
    general to ensure that this takes place with the minimum of bloodshed and
    destruction. We pledge to march together in ever-swelling ranks to a united,
    non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.