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Political Overview by President Jacob Zuma to the meeting of the ANC National Executive Committee

27 March 2015, Protea Breakwater Lodge Hotel, Cape Town

Comrades Officials and members of the NEC

Good morning to you all,

We meet for the first time as the National Executive Committee since the tragic and untimely passing of our dear brother and comrade, Collins Chabane.

We laid him to rest last Saturday in his home village of Xikundu in a dignified and respectable manner, joined by thousands of our people.

His contribution to the NEC, in which he has served for many years and also the organisation and our country, will be sorely missed. Comrade Collins passed as on as we were bidding farewell to two giants of the liberation struggle, Malume Moses Kotane and Uncle J.B. Marks, who were repatriated and were reburied on the 14th and 22nd of March respectively.

These reburials were as a result of our successful efforts to repatriate these icons of our struggle from the Russian Federation as per the request from their families.

The successful repatriation is yet another success story of an ANC administration and it is indicative of our capacity to work efficiently and effectively, and achieve results if we commit ourselves. The return of the remains of JB Marks and Moses Kotane served to mobilise our people and to remind them of the glorious struggle that brought about the freedom and democracy we enjoy today.

It is important for us to gradually repatriate the remains of all our cadres who fell on foreign soil, to enable closure and also as part of building our new heritage. It will be a long and costly process in financial terms, but our view is that it should be done.

Comrades

The year 2015 is indeed a very busy year in the political calendar of our movement.

All our leagues, the Veterans League, the Women`s League and the Youth League will convene their National Conferences. We are also due for the National General Council of the ANC later this year.

The SACP and Cosatu will also hold their National Congresses before the end of this year. It is important to note that some of these conferences are taking place this year outside of the normal schedule. The reason is either because of the need to respond to urgent matters which have arisen or to correct certain things which may have gone wrong.

An example of this is the Youth League conference which was supposed to have taken place last year but was converted into a National Consultative Congress in order to allow more time to build organisationally cohesive structures thoroughly steeped in the traditions and discipline of the ANC.

In other words, the fact that we are having so many conferences in one year, some of which are not in line with the ordinary schedule, partly points to weaknesses and challenges in our movement that we must decisively deal with.

It is a reminder that building the organisation remains a critical task that requires our undivided attention. We call on all ANC leaders to give the necessary political support to the leagues because these leagues constitute an integral part of the ANC.

However, we must desist at all times from excessive intervention and interference in the affairs and processes of the leagues. We must see the conferences of the leagues as natural opportunities of rebirth and renewal; and allow the leagues to function as autonomous bodies within the confines of the ANC`s organizational discipline.

Our task as the NEC in particular, is to support the Leagues so that they emerge from their conferences more united and stronger than before. The Veterans League in particular must emerge from its conference with capacity to effectively play their revolutionary role as torch-bearers and guardians of our movement.

The Women`s League conference next month must strengthen and reenergize the league to relentlessly pursue the struggle for women`s emancipation from the shackles of patriarchy, and with clear programmes to advance the status and quality of life of women in the country, especially the poor and the working class in both urban and rural areas.

The conference must also come up with creative ways on how to reposition the Women`s League to become the leading voice on women`s issues and status in the country, and which is capable of defending women against any form of gender discrimination.

The League must be heard on issues of basic services such as water, sanitation, education, health, electricity and others which affect women directly, alerting government where the delivery of such services is delayed or poor.

Similarly, the Youth League must emerge from its conference as a League of the ANC which does not have any objectives that are contrary to those of the ANC.

It must be a radical, militant and disciplined ANC Youth League with the capacity to skilfully execute its twin tasks of mobilising young people and advancing their interests, while at the same time rallying them behind the banner and vision of the ANC.

It must be a Youth League that will capture the imagination of the youth in the country. It must articulate its programmes and policies and run campaigns that make our youth from all walks of life to view it as their natural political home.

It is therefore our responsibility as ANC leaders to ensure that all our structures and leagues function properly in line with the provisions of our constitution.

Comrades

We meet here less than a week after we marked Human Rights Day and exactly a month before we celebrate the 21st anniversary of our freedom on April the 27th.

Days such as these give us the opportunity to reflect on the journey we have travelled thus far in the struggle for equality, justice and freedom. We must celebrate the fact that we have successfully entrenched a human rights culture in our national consciousness.

We must continue to develop programmes aimed at teaching our people about their hard won rights as well as the responsibilities that naturally come with them.

The year 2015 is the year of the Freedom Charter. Therefore, this year`s Freedom Day must necessarily have a much deeper meaning than ever before. We must use this day to reflect in earnest on the progress we have made since 1994 to meet the demands of the Freedom Charter and to boldly state our achievements as well as where we could have done better.

We need to pay serious attention to the socio-economic rights that the Freedom Charter envisaged all our people would enjoy once freedom had been won.

The reality in our country is that most of the rights enshrined in the constitution of the Republic for our people to enjoy are persistently undermined by the socio-economic conditions under which they live.

Freedom Day will also remind us of the anniversary of 25 years since the release of Comrade Nelson Mandela and 25 years since the unbanning of political organisations, which unleashed a chain of events leading to where we are right now, in a free and democratic South Africa.

I really wish to emphasise that we should not take our achievements for granted, nor should we allow others to define how we should celebrate our freedom. For many years we have allowed others to tell us on Freedom Day that nothing has been achieved in this country.

We must tell the Good Story of this country, the story of a South Africa that is much better to live in that it ever was before.

At the same time we should communicate the work we are doing to implement ANC resolutions on ensuring economic emancipation, which should involve all our people.

We approach economic transformation guided by the following pillars:

  1. creating decent employment for all South Africans.
  2. eliminating poverty and dealing decisively with extreme inequalities in our society.
  3. democratising the ownership and control of the economy by empowering the historically oppressed, Africans and the working class in particular to play a leading role in decision-making.
  4. restructuring the economy so that it meets the basic needs of all South African and the people of the region, especially the poor.
  5. ensuring equitable and mutually beneficial regional development in Southern Africa, thereby fostering the progressive integration of the region, and
  6. limiting the negative environmental impact of our economic transformation programme.

We have also expressed our belief in a developmental state that is located at the centre of a mixed economy and which intervenes in the interest of the people as a whole.

We need to constantly communicate our policies so that people understand the objectives behind our programmes and action plans.

Comrades

We have constantly said in this NEC that the ANC must be a campaigning organization.

In this year of the Freedom Charter and as part of celebrating twenty one years of freedom, we should have Freedom Charter Forums in our branches where our people will learn about the Charter and engage on how far we have come as a nation as well as ponder about the road ahead.

This type of forums will help us draw on the strengths and resilience of our people as we continue the long walk to the National Democratic Society.

We must teach our people that they are their own liberators. They must own their freedom, be responsible for it and defend it, with the ANC always leading them.

We need to rely on our presence amongst the people as the most potent weapon at our disposal in the ongoing battle of ideas.

Comrades

We have set the vision for this year during the January 8th Statement and the State of the Nation Address, both of which took place here in Cape Town.

We have had the ANC National Lekgotla as well as the Cabinet Lekgotla, both of which were about concretising our vision into a solid programme of action. What we are called upon to do now is no longer to plan but to implement.

The work of our NEC Sub-Committees must be geared towards the achievement of the goals we set for ourselves, especially those related to the nine point plan to boost the economy.

As I indicated earlier, our National General Council will take place later this year.

As a result, Sub-Committees are called upon to do a firm audit of what has been achieved since December 2012 against the resolutions of the Mangaung Conference.

This exercise will enable us to know whether we are on course executing the mandate of conference. It will also help us to know where we need to work harder or increase capacity.

Comrades

The unity of our movement as a whole remains the rock upon which the unity of the South African people is based. We are deeply troubled by the occurrences in COSATU. We remain committed to the unity of the Alliance and all its individual components. We are inspired by Moses Kotane and J.B Marks, who are the founding fathers of this Alliance and who served all its components with distinction.

JB Marks and Moses Kotane worked for the unity of the Alliance and the liberation movement.

The ANC is the leader of the Alliance and its leadership must be visible especially during difficult times. As Madiba said, "Unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded."

At the reburial service of Comrade JB Marks, I made a call for an urgent week long Alliance leadership summit where we will tackle issues and discuss everything that is troubling the Alliance. We must plan for that Summit and be ready to contribute toward rebuilding the Alliance and entrenching unity. Many of our illustrious leaders worked hard to build this alliance; we owe it to them to make it succeed.

Comrades

Next year we will hold local government elections. All of us must work hard to secure a resounding victory for the ANC. We must get an overwhelming majority which will enable us to continue implementing our progressive policies in all three spheres of government.

An election campaign has to be run through a highly organized machine. It has to have as its defining characteristics a good message, a good narrative, an impeccable public presentation and most importantly, highest levels of organizational discipline.

We have to take our local government Back to Basics message far and wide, as it is a message of hope. It assures our people that we know what is wrong in some

municipalities and we also have solutions. The message also acknowledges the successes of the past 15 years of democratic local government.

Comrades,

The ANC is a progressive movement with an internationalist outlook.We continue to play our role to build a better Africa and a better world.

Nigerians are going to the polls this weekend. A stable and peaceful Nigeria is in our national interest and in the interest of the African continent. We need Nigeria as a

partner for our progressive agenda on the continent and wish the Nigerians all the best during the elections.

Lesotho has just concluded its own election. Constitutional and security sector reforms must happen as recommended by SADC if Lesotho is to avert another

crisis.

We will be handing over our chairmanship of the SADC Organ later in the year, satisfied with the modest contribution we have made to the region. We congratulate Comrade Deputy President on the successful mission in the Lesotho.

Our intervention in that Kingdom ensured peace and stability and culminated in peace, free and fair elections truly reflecting the will of the Basotho people.

As we prepare for Africa Month and the hosting the Summit of the African Union in June, we should continue to mobilise our people behind our continent for a better Africa. Overall, Africa is changing in the right direction, but peace remains elusive in some parts of the continent and we should work for peace relentlessly.

In June we will also host Africa and the world here in Cape Town, for the World Economic Forum African meeting. We look forward to a successful gathering building on the Davos meeting which

began to tackle inequality and inclusive growth more meaningfully.

Comrades

The smooth leadership transition recently witnessed in Mozambique and Namibia is the way to go. The former liberation movements are setting a good

example and we congratulate them in this regard.

Comrades, this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference which to this day remains a historic milestone in South-South solidarity and the Non Aligned Movement.

We will attend the Celebration of Bandung in memory of Moses Kotane and Indian Congress leader Maulvi Cachalia who attended that historic conference.

We should be more resolute in our struggle for a better world on all fronts - from the G77 that we currently chair, to the entireUnited Nations.

We must use the 70th anniversary of the UN as Africa to give traction to the reform of of the UN organisation, especially its Security Council whose composition is outdated and not geared to tackling challenges facing humanity today.

The Post 2015 Development Agenda that is being negotiated in New York to replace the Millennium Development Goals must be transformative and place our respective countries on the path towards sustainable development and the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment.

Comrades

The Freedom Charter says there shall be peace and friendship. But we never said that this peace and friendship will be delivered to humanity on a silver platter.

We must work for these ideals, individually as the ANC, and collectively as part of the global movement of progressive forces. A better Africa and a better world will enable South Africa to

prosper and realise its full potential.

We have a lot of work ahead this year. We should remain focused on implementing ANC resolutions and ANC policies in general, and continue the meaningful socio-economic transformation of our country.

I Thank You.