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National General Council 2000: Mid-Term Report and Review

12 July 2000


Introduction


The importance of this National General Council cannot be overstated. It provides us with the opportunity for a mid-term review of how we, the elected leadership and cadres of the ANC have performed since the Mafikeng Conference of 1997.

Through a range of resolutions on various aspects of our work in the organization and spheres of government, delegates to the 50th National Conference mandated us to take forward the strategic task of consolidating and uniting our people in the building of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society. This task defines the framework for our successes and failures in the effort of undoing what 300 years of colonialism and apartheid had effected upon our people, both black and white. .

The struggle and sacrifices of our people over the past centuries have presented our generation with the unique opportunity to take South Africa into the new millennium with the overwhelming majority of its people, organized, mobilized and united around a programme of social transformation, premised on democratic majority rule. In order to do this, the ANC, as a movement for change needs to continually evaluate and build its capacity to fulfill this historic mission. The 50th Conference thus places on us as a leadership and on all our members the responsibility to carry out this mission, to use the victory of 1994 as a beachhead to fundamentally transform South Africa.

This report assesses our work in a number of spheres, and the challenges facing us as an organization, a government, a people and a country. Many aspects of our assessment inspire us with confidence.

What we have found is that significant progress is being made in many areas, particularly in maintaining our focus on tackling the burning issues of our times in keeping with our framework of reconstruction and development. This includes the work done to address the great divides of our society – race, poverty and gender.

This review first considers the state of organization. The popularity of the ANC stretches beyond its membership. This is not only indicated by the 1999 election results, but by the confidence and faith communities, and the South African society place in the political leadership of the ANC. There are more people, especially the African poor, who put their confidence in the ANC and its programmes both in government and civil society. This leadership and support goes beyond our borders, as the details in the report, especially on international matters, will show.

The review also considers the work of government from the perspective of reconstruction and development. Clearly, some of the weaknesses we have as an organization arise because the concentration of our efforts, including from our most experienced and committed members, is focused on effective governance.

Finding the correct balance between the involvement of grassroots structures and government departments in the implementation of policies, is one of the key challenges facing this National General Council. This will help bridge the gap between government and the people, reducing the sense of distance identified as a problem before the general election of 1999. This will also be a critical factor in mobilizing the electorate for the forthcoming local elections.

This report has endeavored to frankly, even somewhat harshly, identify our weaknesses. There are many good things we have done which we should continue to do, and in highlighting specific examples during the course of this report, we hope that this will contribute towards sharing good practice and learning from each other. However, as a movement that is ever self-correcting, we must highlight the weaknesses for purposes of correcting and improving our work.

It is not enough to know what our problems are. We must do something about them. We expect our deliberations during this Council to find solutions, to map the path forward, and address the steps taken so far to resolve the problems facing our country. Have they gone far enough? What can we do more effectively? We have identified the challenges, the opportunities and the tremendous possibilities that lie before us.

We have a responsibility to meet these challenges, not only to those whose valiant efforts brought us to this point in our struggle, but for future generations of South Africans and the people of our region and continent.

The ANC is, and will remain, the main driver for change in our society. Therefore, unless the ANC comes to grips with the issues identified in this review, and provides the leadership regarding thoroughgoing transformation, the chances of success will be significantly diminished. The ANC must fulfill its obligations and responsibilities as an agent for change.