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National General Council 2000: Declaration

15 July 2000

The ANC met at its National General Council from 12 to 15 July 2000 under the theme, "ANC – People’s Revolutionary Movement and Agent for Change". We meet in a period in which South Africans are making great strides in improving their quality of life, and working with the rest of humanity to build a better Africa and a better world. As we enter the new millennium, we are convinced that we have it within our power to seize the opportunities and address the challenges posed by the new global situation.

Council agreed that the ANC and the people of South Africa have made great strides since the historic 50th National Conference of the ANC in Mafikeng in 1997. It is a reflection of this conviction, and an expression of confidence in the future, that the overwhelming majority of South Africans once more placed their trust in the ANC in our second democratic elections. Our challenge is to act with utmost urgency and even greater vigour to build a better life for all. This demands of the ANC always to act as a people’s agent for change.

The ANC recommits itself to accelerate the eradication of the final vestiges of the apartheid state and ensure its replacement by a democratic one. The National Democratic Revolution requires a strong, efficient, developmental and truly democratic state, able to ensure open and accountable government, and direct resources at its disposal to meet the needs of the majority, especially the poor. We have made progress in setting up state institutions that act as instruments of change and we have established policy frameworks that give direction to these instruments. However, much more needs to be done, to ensure that the mass of the people are mobilised to become active participants in the process of change.

We need to deepen the scope and extend the reach of state transformation, in order to expand the quantity and quality of services to all South Africans, especially the poor. This cannot simply be proclaimed from above, but requires a chain of activists and cadres, effectively mobilising communities to engage with the institutions of state at every level. At the core of these initiatives should be cadres and members of the ANC.

Economic transformation remains a cornerstone of our policy and programmes. Critical in this is the urgent task of job-creation and an improvement in the quality of life of all our people. We cannot afford to tinker on the sidelines whilst the engine of the economy turns in the same old ways. This calls upon us to speed up the economic empowerment of those previously excluded from the mainstream of the economy; it demands that we ensure access to land by the landless; it dictates that we improve provision of finance to Small, Medium and Micro entrepreneurs; and calls for ensuring employment equity, rights of collective bargaining and other human rights at the workplace.

A growing economy and a people-centred state are also a sure guarantee to providing electricity, water, housing and other necessary infrastructure to the people.

This National General Council reaffirms the commitment of the ANC to speed up the process of social transformation. The programmes to improve the provision of health facilities and services; to improve the quality of, and access to, education at all levels; and to ensure even broader access to quality services must be further speeded up. This has to be done in a manner that improves the totality of the lives of poor and disadvantaged communities.

This demands greater integration and co-ordination in the operation of all structures of government, within national government and between the national, provincial and local spheres of government. In this regard, the ANC commits itself to ensure speedier implementation of the Integrated Rural Development Strategy, the multidisciplinary approach to crime prevention and urban renewal, the Human Resource Development Strategy and other integrated programmes. Council hereby calls on all cadres at all levels of government and the state to ensure that they speed up the process of re-engineering government, so that integrated planning and implementation can become a reality.

The African National Congress is committed to people-centred and people-driven transformation. As we have always asserted, the people are their own liberators. As such, we emerge from Council inspired further to reach out to communities and their sectoral and other formations to take active part in the struggle for change. It is our task always to mobilise and organise workers, the rural masses, the middle strata, business people, professionals and other forces that stand to gain from the success of national democratic transformation. At the head of this army of change is the working class, whose role in our history of struggle, and in the current process of transformation have always been critical for us to advance.

In this regard, Council resolved that all branches and other structures of the ANC, and each individual member of the movement, should take it upon themselves to build partnerships among all forces that stand to benefit from social transformation. Our success depends on the active involvement of all our people in the process of changing their lives for the better.

The core of the forces to change our society for the better is the Revolutionary Alliance of the ANC, the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions. The National General Council affirms the profound need and critical role of the Tripartite Alliance, in this phase of transformation. Collectively and individually, components of the Alliance continue to play a critical role in the quest for freedom, justice and social equity. Council resolved that structures that have been set up to ensure better co-ordination within the Alliance should be activated, that joint programmes of action should be implemented with greater determination, and that issues of disagreement should be handled in a mature manner reflective of true revolutionaries.

The ANC has identified racism as a scourge that has over the years infected every facet of our lives. It is rooted in almost every corner of our land, expressing itself daily in the workplace, educational institutions, sporting and other activities. Only through the radical and accelerated transformation of our country will the demon of racism be laid to rest. Critical in this regard, is the challenge to change the economic, social, moral and other relations entrenched during the centuries of colonial and racial oppression. In the final analysis, the essence of racism is power relations, and this is what we should change as part of the task of social transformation. The ANC supports and will take active part in the National and International Conferences Against Racism.

Equally entrenched in our society are the relations of gender inequality, which demand urgent and systematic eradication. South Africa has, under the leadership of the ANC, made great strides n this regard. But as long as domestic violence and abuse of women and children continue; as long as infrastructure has not reached all corners of our country; as long as poverty continues to characterise the lives of communities in rural and urban areas; as long as attitudes of sexism continue to prevail in most areas of life – we are obliged as a matter of principle to pronounce, the struggle continues, and to act in unison to achieve a truly non-sexist society.

We have spent most of our time at this NGC in open and frank discussions, both self-critical and constructive, which reflect the unique character of the ANC as a transparent, revolutionary and people-centred movement. Our long tradition of sharpening the thrust of our offensive against apartheid colonialism and maintaining the unity of our movement and our people through continuous debate is one that we are proud of.

In these discussions, and in the Reports of both the President and the Secretary-General, Council identified many dangers that have arisen under the new conditions of struggle. Disturbing trends of careerism, corruption and opportunism, alien to a revolutionary movement, have started to take root at various levels of our organisation. These problems have the potential to eat at the soul of our movement, and to denude our society of an agent of real change.

At the centre of our programme is the urgent need to entrench the ethos of a transformative morality, discipline and caring among our members, our people and our country as a whole. Within the ANC we need to build a corps of cadres capable of implementing required programmes and carrying forth the traditions of the movement. Our deployment structures must be able to draw on cadres who are committed, capable and innovative; cadres who are rooted among our people, and are dedicated to working with them to realise their aspirations.

Branches continue to be the lifeblood of our organisation, and they must establish themselves as the vanguard of their communities. Our membership must be involved in an active way with the critical questions that confront communities, and master the skills that are demanded by the new conditions of struggle.

This NGC has galvanised our organisation to mobilise the people for an overwhelming victory in the coming local government elections. We are keenly aware that local government is where the majority of our people directly encounter democratic governance. It is therefore a critical responsibility on the part of the ANC to ensure that this sphere of government is strengthened in a meaningful and visible way – both in terms of the programmes we undertake and the quality of cadres we deploy.

We recognise that the HIV/AIDS pandemic poses a very serious threat that has the potential to roll back all the advances we have made in struggle. This is also because the pandemic is largely prevalent among young people in the prime of their lives.

We do recognise that specific conditions in developing countries, in Africa and in our own country impact on the progression of AIDS. It is therefore our responsibility to seek and find solutions to this danger within the context of the reality of poverty, poor nutrition, illiteracy, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, malaria and other chronic diseases. We therefore commit ourselves to a comprehensive and multi-sectoral national response to the epidemic.

NGC reaffirms its support for government programmes aimed at the prevention of the spread of HIV and the treatment of all opportunistic infections. NGC supports continued research initiatives, nationally and internationally, which will shed more light on the totality of the issues pertaining to this pandemic. Most critically, we reiterate our call on all South Africans to work together to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, to care for those infected and affected, and to ensure that questions pertaining to the utilisation of existing drugs are clarified. The ANC is committed to the course of ensuring that, through scientific engagement, questions that remain unanswered on this pandemic, including mother-to-child transmission, are pursued. In this regard, the NGC supports the initiative on the Presidential International AIDS Panel, which is pursuing some of these questions.

The National General Council reaffirmed that the defeat of hunger, disease, illiteracy, homelessness and joblessness in SA can only be truly accomplished in partnership with other nations pursuing the same objectives. We commit ourselves to the ideal of the African Renaissance not only as a strategic objective, but also as a call to action. A rebirth demands united action among Africa’s peoples, and their allies in other parts of the world, in pursuit of rapid development on the continent. In this regard, Council welcomes the efforts of government and our President in particular to place the interests of Africa and the developing world at the top of the global agenda.

Our frank and open discussions both before and at this NGC have reinforced the bonds of comradeship and a deeper understanding of the challenges that the ANC and the country as a whole face in this period. We therefore emerge from this NGC strengthened as an organisation, inspired as its membership, and reinforced in our commitment to mobilise South Africa’s people for the better life that they deserve.

As we start preparations for the 90th anniversary of the ANC in the year 2002 and the hosting by South Africa of the OAU Summit in the same year, we, the delegates at this NGC, and on behalf of the millions of our members and supporters, re-dedicate ourselves to build the ANC as the primary Agent for Change in the ongoing struggle for the radical transformation of South Africa.

We have the people’s mandate. We have the responsibility to move forward with speed.
Long Live the People’s Movement and Agent for Change!
Long live the ANC!
The struggle continues! Victory is certain!