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Remarks by ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC Limpopo Gala Dinner

6 February 2016, The Ranch Hotel, Polokwane

ANC Provincial Chairperson Cde Stan Mathabatha, ANC Provincial Secretary Cde Nocks Seabi, Leadership of the ANC and Alliance, Comrades and Friends,

I wish to thank the leadership of the ANC in Limpopo for inviting me to address this gathering this evening.

It remains a source of immense pride, deep honour and great privilege to belong to this movement, which this year commemorates 104 years of struggle, service and sacrifice.

No political formation in our country can claim such a depth of leadership, such a clear vision for the future, and such comprehensive policies to achieve a better life for all South Africans.

The ANC remains the sharpest instrument for total emancipation in the hands of the toiling masses of our land.

To be associated with this movement is certainly an honour.

But it also carries with it great responsibility.

It carries with it a responsibility to serve and to struggle selflessly and tirelessly to advance the interests of the people.

Our cause is a just cause.

We therefore remain unflinching in our conviction that, together with the masses of our people, we will emerge victorious.

Nowhere is that conviction more prevalent than in Limpopo.

The site of the great civilisation of Mapungubwe, this province has borne witness to some of the greatest struggles fought by our people against colonial occupation and apartheid oppression.

The people of this province have stood firm in the face of the worst injustice and the harshest repression.

Their struggle - for land, for education, for development, for an equal share in the wealth of this country - is not over.

And their determination to succeed is undiminished.

Comrades, Distinguished Guests,

As we enter the third decade of our democracy, we are proud of the progress we have made.

We are also mindful of the challenges we face.

We must remain conscious of the pitfalls of incumbency.

We must remember that the ANC gets its mandate from the people.

It carries the hopes and dreams of millions.

The ANC exists to improve the lives of the people.

We dare not betray the sacrifices of comrades, black and white, who lost life and limb in the noble cause to eradicate the oppression of one group by another.

Through revolutionary conduct, discipline and behaviour, we must resist the seduction of power and the trappings of public office.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC has declared 2016 as "The Year for Advancing People's Power".

It has said to the people of this country: "Local Government is in your hands."

Realising that no government can justly claim authority unless it based on the will of the people, our forebears declared in the Freedom Charter that "The People Shall Govern".

This is what local government is about.

It is not only about securing a mandate to govern. It is about involving people in changing their lives for the better.

Local government - as with all spheres of government - is where we show ourselves to be caring and committed servants of the people.

It is where our people can assert their collective power and determine their shared destiny.

As we approach these elections, we have an opportunity to evaluate the progress we have made since the dawn of democracy.

Since 1994, we have enhanced the capacity of the state as a critical instrument for the reconstruction and development of our country.

We continue to lead in the implementation of the National Development Plan, an agenda for participatory and people-centred development.

Through local government we have improved the living standards of all South Africans.

By providing critical social infrastructure such as electricity, water and sanitation we have worked to restore the humanity and dignity of our people.

The 2011 Census tells us that in Limpopo, the proportion of people living in formal dwellings rose from 73% in 2001 to 90% ten years later.

The proportion using electricity for lighting increased from 63% to 88%, and those with access to piped water increased from 78% to 86%.

We have established no-fee schools, school nutrition programmes, social grants and are pursuing the progressive realisation of free higher education for the poor.

Yet, there is still so much more we need to do.

We need to provide electricity and houses to those who do not have.

We need to ensure that taps do not run dry and that the water is of good quality.

We need to ensure that all have access to quality education and decent health care no matter where they live.

We need to ensure that more people find decent work.

We need to do so in a difficult economic climate.

Just a few days ago, the World Bank revised their projections for South Africa's GDP growth this year to below 1 percent.

We are determined to prove that projection wrong.

Working together, by remaining focused on the task at hand, we will prove that our economy is both resilient and well-positioned to achieve higher levels of growth as the global economic environment improves.

We are expanding investment sectors such as automobiles, clothing and textiles and manufacturing.

We are widening our ownership base through the black industrialist programme.

More importantly we are continuing with good fiscal management and ensuring that we are a government that lives within its means.

We are working hard to build consensus between all key stakeholders, including business and labour, to help stabilise the economy, save jobs and restore credibility and investor confidence.

As we work to constrain public spending, we are determined not to cut back on critical social expenditure or reduce investments in vital infrastructure projects.

We are placing renewed emphasis on land and agrarian reform to redress the injustices of our past, to create jobs and to guarantee food security.

Comrades and Friends,

The province of Limpopo has seen much conflict and great hardship.

But today, it is a province of great promise and abundant opportunity.

Despite the devastating legacy of apartheid education, despite the challenges of poverty and poor infrastructure, this province has been producing some of the country's most accomplished matriculants in subjects like maths and science.

There are centres of educational excellence to be found in areas of the province that are among the most remote and impoverished.

This shows the resilience, determination and inventiveness of its people.

The province is set to benefit from the significant mineral resources that are to be found here and from the infrastructure that is being built to better link together the markets of the Southern African region.

But we must also acknowledge that we have, on occasion, fallen short.

We have had problems with the financial and operational management of the provincial government and some municipalities.

We recall how, some years back, we failed to deliver text books to school children.

We recall the instances where communities went without water, where promised roads were not built.

We acknowledge these shortcomings. We have learnt from them. And we are determined to do better.

Comrades and Friends,

This year, we must renew our shared determination to end racism.

Racism offends people's dignity and violates their rights.

It is an assault on our common humanity.

It is therefore important that we respond together to recent instances of racism, understanding that these are not isolated outbursts from disgruntled individuals.

They are the lingering vestiges of a system of racial oppression that still shapes the lives of many of our people.

Racism is not simply about words or attitudes.

It is about who has work and who doesn't.

It is about who has skills and who doesn't.

It is about who lives close to work opportunities and who lives far away.

It is about who owns the land and who is paid very little to work it.

We react with outrage when a former estate agent describes black people as monkeys.

We must be similarly outraged by the many ways in which the legacy of racial oppression continues to dehumanise our people.

Our people are dehumanised daily when they have no sanitation and must use the bucket system.

Our people are dehumanised daily when parents have to share a one-room shack with their children.

Our people are dehumanised daily when they have to travel far and wide to earn a pittance.

And so let us remember as we go into these elections and revive our economy that we can only and truly unite South Africa if we achieve equality in the opportunities and services we provide to all our people.

Racism thrives through economic marginalisation and inequality.

It is only through true socio-economic empowerment that we can take the bite out of racism.

This is too huge a responsibility to entrust to others.

We have to lead the struggle for a non-racial society.

We are thus duty bound to build a strong ANC.

We have a duty to build a strong alliance with our partners in the SACP, COSATU and SANCO.

We have a duty to remain rooted among the people, working to unite all South Africans around a common vision.

We have a sacred covenant with the people of this country - forged in struggle and fortified at the ballot box.

They know we have achieved much but they want us, and nobody else, to lead them to the Promised Land.

I thank you.