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Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 82nd Anniversary of the ANC

8 January 1994.

Compatriots:

Today, we mark the 82nd anniversary of the ANC. We do so in very special circumstances. We have arrived at an historic watershed. 1994 is the year in which our country will hold its first ever democratic elections.

The dreams and the vision of the great patriots who formed the ANC are about to be realised. The hopes of the millions who sacrificed for the realisation of that vision are, at last, about to be fulfilled.

Within a few months, all our people will, as equals, exercise their inalienable and sacred right to determine the destiny of our country.

When the day of liberation dawns, then shall South Africa, at last, say farewell to over three centuries of injustice, racial oppression and exploitation.

As we celebrate these victories, we will, at the same time, be saying farewell to conflict and war, suffering and despair.

FOUNTAIN OF INSPIRATION

As we advance towards the new, we carry with us the great pride that millions of our people, both black and white, among them the heroic combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe, defied all dangers and death itself, to achieve these successes.

The heroines and heroes who joined the great offensive for national emancipation and democracy are legion. Their actions will forever remain a fountain of inspiration for the generations that will be charged with the defence and further consolidation of our freedom, liberty and human rights.

The names of the countless martyrs who sacrificed everything for the liberation of all our people are registered in the indelible record of our country's forward march across the boundaries that separate centuries.

The united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa which will soon be our prize, will be the living tribute to their endeavours, courage and nobility of spirit. It will be the guarantee that their struggle was not in vain.

VICTORY FOR ALL

Today we speak of democratic elections, of liberation and of freedom, justice and peace because these millions dared to stand up, as they continue to do to this day, to say no to oppression, exploitation and war.

The victory they sought was for all the people of our country.

It was not their objective then, and is not our aim now, to produce a society of conquerors and the conquered. It was their aim then as it is our objective now, to liberate all and subjugate none.

When the celebrations come, they must therefore salute a common homecoming to a common homeland. They must pay tribute to our collective wisdom as South Africans.

They must express joy in our common discovery of the national will which, forged in conflict, directed and enabled us to reach across the burning embers of that confrontation, to end the conflict.

The past year has seen us lay down important additional foundation stones for the edifice of freedom which we seek to build.

I refer, in particular, to the milestones represented by the adoption of the transitional constitution and the establishment of the Transitional Executive Council as well as other structures charged with the task of preparing for the elections.

TRIBUTE TO MARTYRS

What a cruel turn of history it has been that during the very year that we took these important strides forward, we lost such outstanding leaders of our people and important architects of the democratic victory, as Oliver Tambo and Chris Hani.

To them and others who have lost their lives during this past year, especially those who have been cut down as a result of the continuing political violence, we reiterate our homage.We pledge to them that we shall forever remain loyal to the cause for which they laid down their lives.

FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS

During this year, as a country and a people, we must discharge the common responsibility we share of ensuring that each and everyone of our people freely exercises his or her hard-won right to elect a government of his or her choice.

Acting together, we must ensure that the people continue, in practice, to be their own liberators by participating in elections that are truly free and fair.

The litmus test both of our democratic credentials, individually and collectively, and the genuineness of the democratic order, must be whether the elections are in fact free and fair.

All the necessary conditions must therefore be created to ensure that all voters, in the towns and the countryside, participate in the elections and participate without spoiling their ballot papers.

We must therefore all consider it our national task to organise so that every eligible voter has the necessary means of identification, that each voter knows how to vote and that each voter reaches a voting station during the election days.

Equally important, it is our common national task to guarantee that no voter is intimidated such that either he or she does not participate in the election or votes in a manner contrary to what his or her conscience and conviction dictates.

STOP THE BLOOD-LETTING

Of central importance is the issue of political violence.

The imperative of peace demands that the carnage must end. The democratic transition and human decency demand that the blood- letting must stop.

The time has come that the people should judge the killers for what they are - murderers who must be punished according to their just deserts, assassins whom the voters must reject as the very enemies of democracy, purveyors of death who cannot be allowed to assume power through terror.

From the very beginning of the establishment of the new democracy, let us therefore make it clear that what underwrites the permanence of that democracy is our common commitment to peace.

We must not permit anyone to use force to deny the unfettered exercise of the will of the people, regardless of the arms the enemies of democracy bear and regardless of the brutality of their terror.

Together we must bring to naught the evil intentions of the enemies of democracy and peace, whose callous actions have already resulted in the loss of the lives of thousands of innocent people.

RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

There are some who, out of fear for the future or too blind an attachment to the past, seek to stop what is just and inevitable, through force of arms.

The very point we have reached after three centuries of conflict and confrontation and a determined resistance to change, speaks of the futility of this project.

The question that history confronts us with is not whether South Africa shall be a democratic country. The question that the opponents of change force onto the national agenda is whether that democratic order will come after a conflict that will have turned our country into a wasteland.

The reality must be accepted by all of us that change is the basic condition for our existence as a country, for our survival as a people, for the achievement of peace, justice, prosperity and stability for all.

On this historic occasion in the life of our country, we therefore call on those who yearn for the false stability of injustice to understand this fully. They should learn that their own survival, their capacity to live as human beings, depends on change and not the maintenance of an intolerable status quo or the reversion to a forgotten past.

We say to them that they, too, must become part of the collective wisdom of all our people, out of which has been born the realisation that we share a common destiny which we must shape together, as equals.

COMMON DESTINY

The forthcoming elections are not just about the demise of the old order. They begin a process by which the old must yield to the new.

They constitute the first step of our entry into the modern political world with its concepts and practices of democracy, fundamental human rights and equality among the peoples without discrimination on grounds of gender, race, colour or belief.

The elections will move our country into a new epoch, enabling all of humanity to take the last step to close the chapter of colonialism which was first imposed on Africa with the establishment of the Portuguese colonial empire, five hundred years ago.

GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE

In our fifth month this year, our country will be ruled by a government born out of this new epoch. This will be a government which, for the first time in our history, will justly claim authority because it will be based on the will of the people.

Its central task will be the transformation of South Africa into a true example of what constitutes the modern world.

The first challenge of that interim government of national unity will be to begin the process of dismantling apartheid and transforming South Africa into a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist country.

To dismantle apartheid means to return South Africa to the hands of all her people. This is the fundamental thrust that must inform the programme of reconstruction and development which this government will have to implement.

The old order has plunged our country into a general crisis affecting all spheres of human endeavour.

As a result of the policies representative of an old epoch, the economy has failed to feed all our people. It has failed to house them and to provide them with jobs. It has failed to provide them with good education, to give them access to good health services - in short, to provide them with an acceptable and improving quality of life.

South Africa's relations with the world economy continue to be characterised by its colonial origins, resulting in dependence on the export of raw materials and agricultural products and an inability to compete effectively in terms of modern industrial products.

The state institutions lack legitimacy and are not accepted by the overwhelming majority of our people as being dedicated to ensuring the public good.

Rather they are seen as seats of injustice, affected by rampant corruption, structured and programmed to serve a tiny minority at the expense of the majority.

CULTURE OF VIOLENCE

Fear of death and injury continue to stalk our land. No one, old or young, black or white, in the towns and the countryside, feels safe.

The old order, which could only survive on the basis of violence and brute force, has infused our society with a culture of violence. We are today reaping the fruits of that heritage in the form of massive criminal violence, including the abuse of women and children, violence within families as well as political thuggery and terrorism.

History has blessed our country with a nation made up of people with different colours and cultures. The old order sought to use this reality,which should be a source of joy and strength, as an instrument for the perpetuation and entrenchment of injustice, oppression and exploitation.

As a consequence of the encouragement of a destructive racial and ethnic chauvinism, we are today faced with some in our midst who would seek to undermine the process of reconciliation and nation building by appealing to dangerous and primitive instincts of racial and ethnic exclusiveness.

INJUSTICE TO WOMEN

We have also inherited a social structure and social mores which have condemned the women of our country to the ranks of the most oppressed and exploited. This has meant the all-round and sustained suppression of half of our population to the grave detriment not only of the women themselves but to our country as a whole.

This grave injustice has been codified into law, justified by an appeal to tradition and sustained by a crude ideology which trumpets the superiority of the male over the female.

SOUTH AFRICA BELONGS TO ALL WHO LIVE IN IT

The old order we shall replace has also damaged and undermined our country's relations with the rest of the world. South Africa became the seat of aggression and destabilisation, inflicting enormous damage on the countries of Southern Africa.

The loss of our independence and, later, South Africa's rightful isolation by the nations of the world, have produced a set of relations which became part of and an expression of the general crisis produced by the persistence of a social and political system whose time had long passed.

In this year of liberation, the people of South Africa must insist that the new government will only earn their trust and respect if it engages in a serious and determined programme to end this general crisis by returning our country to all its people, so that we can truly say that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both black and white.

RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT

Many things will therefore have to be done to rebuild the economy. These measures must ensure that this economy serves the interests of all our people, enabling us to raise the living standards of the poor. At the same time, it must attain high and sustainable rates of growth.

Furthermore, steps will have to be taken so that our country's resources are allocated and distributed in such a way that we can begin to end the racial disparities in terms of the distribution of wealth, income and opportunity.

Many things will also have to be done to restructure the organs of government so that they are representative of all our people. All levels of government must serve the people and operate in a climate of transparency, public accountability and moral integrity. The ANC commits itself to these objectives.

PEACE A PRIORITY

The new government will also have to lead the offensive for peace, security and stability, building on what has been achieved through the National Peace Accord, the activities of the National Peace Keeping Force and the peace struggle of the masses of the people themselves.

This must include improving the socio-economic conditions of the people, rebuilding of the services responsible for the maintenance of law and order, and improving their relationship with the communities they serve.

We are confident that the members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, integrated into a new national defence force, will play a critical role in the achievement of these objectives.

Above all, we must draw the people themselves into a determined campaign to expunge the curse of violence from our society.

Through action, the women of our country should also ensure that they, the rest of our population and the new government focus on the fundamental question of the emancipation of women by addressing such matters as their socio-economic upliftment, raising their levels of education and training, ensuring their participation in decision-making structures and creating the conditions for their liberation from demobilisation by household chores.

Soon our country will take its rightful place among the nations. This process will give us the opportunity so to position ourselves that we can play our own role in the building of a world of peace, freedom and respect for human rights while establishing and strengthening a system of mutually beneficial relations with the peoples of the world, beginning with the countries of Southern Africa.

RISE TO THE CHALLENGE

Whatever the details of these programmes, we must ensure that within a relatively short period of time, our country emerges out of the crisis imposed upon it and becomes a true land of hope.

This we will achieve if, as we must, we begin to build new houses, give better education to the youth, raise the standard of living of especially the poor, attend to the pressing environmental questions, strengthen the spirit of solidarity among all our people, ensure peace and security for the people and enable the people to govern.

In the fight for a healthy population, we must, among other things, halt the spread of HIV and AIDS, while treating its victims in a humane manner, based on the principles contained in the Bill of Rights. We still have a chance to arrest the proliferation of this pandemic.

Faced as we are with the terrible inheritance of massive unemployment, top priority must be given to the creation of jobs.

Related to this, we will also have to adopt programmes to ensure that those who have been left behind by apartheid, are given the opportunity to catch up and work side by side with the rest of their compatriots, as people of equal competence. This is the true essence of a policy of affirmative action.

The question of the protection and the development of children must also been given the emphasis and attention it deserves. The requisite resources will have to be allocated to meet the objectives which the whole world pursues for the promotion of the interests of the children.

The land hunger which affects many of our people must also be addressed. We are convinced that this can and must be done without threatening those who work the land today and help to feed the nation.

We must meet all these challenges as a people and not merely leave them to the government that we shall all have elected.

Our success as a country and the very imperative of building a genuine democracy, require that all structures of civil society should themselves be involved in confronting these challenges.

These structures, among them the civic organisations, are important instruments both of socio-economic development and democratic participation in reconstruction. We are confident that they will take timely measures to gear themselves to play this new role, in keeping with the aspirations of the millions they represent, for a decent standard of living, peace and stability.

We therefore call on all sectors of our population to rise to the challenge and join hands for the remaking of our country into a common home that we can all be proud of.

THE YOUTH

The challenge facing our youth is to remain at the forefront of the struggle for change. They must be among those in the vanguard of the important effort to ensure that the elections are free and fair and among those who must lead in rebuilding our country.

They, who are the pride and the hope of our nation, also have a serious responsibility to prepare themselves through education and other means, so that they can both build and inherit a future of peace, democracy, prosperity and stability.

EFFORTS OF THE WORKING PEOPLE

The prosperity which all our people deeply yearn for will come about as a result of the efforts of our working people, who have themselves been at the vanguard of the struggle to end the system of white minority rule.

Continuing in that role, they too, under the leadership of their trade unions, have a responsibility to help create the conditions of democracy and peace which will ensure the creation of new jobs and implementation of the economic reconstruction programme, which are such a vital part of the process of building the new South Africa.

It is also critically important that the trade union movement should continue to make its contribution to the development of a national consensus with regard to the objective of building a prosperous economy which would end unemployment, provide a living wage for all, raise levels of productivity and international competitiveness and ensure proper participation by workers in decision making at their places of work.

There are some among our working people who benefited from job reservation and racial discrimination in the past. Some of these continue to cling to a misguided hope that the old order can be restored.

It remains the responsibility of the progressive trade union movement to join in the effort to persuade these that their fundamental interests can only be served by their full participation in the process of democratic change.

CENTRAL ROLE OF THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY

The religious community of our country has also played a central role in the struggle to achieve justice and peace for all our people. To these great patriots, to whom we reiterate our commitment to freedom of worship, we say that the goal you set yourselves, inspired by the humanist teachings of all the great faiths, has not yet been achieved.

In particular we believe that you have a central role to play in ensuring that the elections are free and fair, by paying especial attention to the questions of voter education and mobilisation and addressing the critical question of political violence.

Similarly, an important responsibility rests on your shoulders to help ensure genuine reconciliation among all our communities and the strengthening of the ties that bind them as part of one human family.

In addition, we believe that the religious community should gear itself to participate in the programme for reconstruction and development so that, through community based activities, it helps the ordinary people to escape from the terrible prison of poverty, deprivation and human degradation.

CALL TO TRADITIONAL LEADERS

We would also like to make a special call to the traditional leaders, who have an important role to play in the new society. They, too, owe it to the country to ensure that those who fall under their jurisdiction are given every possibility to participate in the process of the peaceful transformation of our country.

The new constitution has already given a place to these leaders of our people, reflecting the common recognition of the important role they must continue to play. That role demands of them that, as of old, they must continue to serve the interests of the people, in the spirit of our new democracy.

PARTNERSHIP WITH BUSINESS

The business community, both black and white, constitutes an important sector of our society and a valuable asset in the historic effort to bring a better quality of life to all our people.

We appeal to these compatriots themselves to play their part in building confidence in the future of our country. The critical and positive decisions which they take will impact on the welfare of the millions of our people as well as the success of the democratic transition itself.

We are committed to join hands with them in a partnership for progress and change, for peace and stability, economic growth, equity and prosperity for all, fully understanding that the public and private sectors are both important players in the battle to secure a better life for the people.

RESPONSIBILITY OF PROFESSIONALS

A similar message goes to all the professionals of our country on whose hands falls the responsibility of ensuring that, in all fields, we become a country of excellence.

Central to our success will be the contribution of all our educators. Inspired by the drive to banish ignorance and mediocrity, they must help the country to learn and learn again, regardless of whether one participates in adult education, the training of skilled workers or the preparation of specialists in pure science.

They must be in the forefront of a campaign to eliminate the scourge of illiteracy and to reestablish a culture of learning and teaching.

LESSONS FROM THE PAST

We would further like to address a special message to all those who see themselves as leaders or representatives of any of the racial and ethnic groups of our country.

To them all we say if anything is to be learnt at all from the last three centuries of our country's history, it is that all our peoples belong together. All efforts in the past to separate and divide them, to present them as having interests that are mutually exclusive and to prescribe different destinies for them, has led to conflict and war and the crisis from which our country is now striving to extricate itself.

None who has the genuine interests of any of these sectors of our population can condemn them to that proven past of pain and misery, derived from the false and dangerous concept of separate development or unique ethnic interests.

BUILD ONE NATION

We are greatly strengthened by the fact that, as part of the black oppressed, the Coloured and Indian communities have rejected these notions and have therefore continued to stand on the side of freedom and a common nationhood.

So also have many of our white compatriots come over to the vision of one non-racial South Africa, vindicating the positions of those white who, however few in number, refused to be bribed into accepting white domination.

Let us therefore all join together to build our national unity, regardless of the colour of our skin, the language we speak at home and the religion we profess. Together we must do what our country and all its children cry out for - to build one nation, inspired by a common patriotism and love for the rich diversity of cultures which is our common heritage.

We would also like to make this call to all political formations in our country, that whatever the differences among them, however vigorously they will contest the election ahead of us, they share a common responsibility to rise above the merely partisan and sectarian.

Together we must do everything that is necessary to ensure that the April elections are free and fair. Together, we must act in a way that will produce the united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa to which we all committed ourselves at the very beginning of the process of the multi-party negotiations.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

We must all remain true to the agreements we have reached. We, for our part, reiterate our firm commitment to honour the accords arrived at during the process of negotiations.

The whole democratic movement of our country, including the Patriotic Front and the Tripartite Alliance, has the responsibility to lead our country, no longer as a movement of resistance, but as the historic force for change on whose shoulders rests the hope of the majority of our people for peace, democracy and a better life.

The ANC itself must continue to improve its capacity to serve the people. This will mean organisation and yet more organisation to enable us to continue to mobilise and lead. We must ensure that we continue to maintain contact with the masses of the people and respond to their needs and aspirations.

All our members, in the branches, regions and nationally must continue to be motivated by the motto - we serve the people of South Africa!

We have, together, created the statutory organs that will take our country forward to its democratic future. These include the Transitional Executive Council, the Independent Electoral Commission, the Independent Media Commission and the Independent Broadcasting Authority.

We extend our best wishes to all who serve on these important structures, pledge our support to them and commit ourselves to cooperate with them for the success of the common project.

We are confident that they will discharge their responsibilities in a fitting manner, conscious of the decisive consideration that theirs is not to serve a sectional or party interest but to create the conditions which will enable all our people to break out of their shackles.

WE PAY TRIBUTE

As we approach our day of liberation, we extend special word of gratitude to the millions of people throughout the world, the anti-apartheid movement, other popular organisations, governments and inter-governmental organisations all of whom have been an important motive force in moving our country forward to the modern age.

As part of the continent of Africa, we pay special homage to the OAU and the Frontline and neighbouring states whose peoples made such great sacrifices in support of our liberation struggle. The new South Africa will play its role in the struggle for the all- round development of our continent as an equal partner with all other countries and a force for peace and stability.

Their work, like ours, is also not yet done. We appeal to them to continue to contribute what they can to ensure a smooth transition to a democratic order and the rebuilding of South Africa into a country which they will be proud to describe as a friend and a reliable partner.

RACISM HAS NO FUTURE

Here, on these southern shores of the African continent, all humanity has the possibility to produce a result which will confirm that racism has no future, that the domination of one people by another has no place in the new world, that it is possible for a multi-cultural society to thrive in a situation of peace and harmony and that the peoples of our continent have as much a capacity as any other to achieve an all-round human success.

Our salute to the world community and the expression of our gratitude for what it has done to emancipate all our people, will be the victory we shall all score by the establishment of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

It will be represented by our deeds as a democratic country when we act in solidarity with those who are oppressed and despised and play our role in the common effort to create a new world order of justice, peace, human rights and prosperity for all.

THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN!

We extend our best wishes to all our people and assure them that what continues to motivate us is neither personal gain not party interest.

On our banners are inscribed the glorious words and the inviolate covenant - the people shall govern!

Compatriots:

Now is the time for this noble objective to be fulfilled. Now is the time that we make a decisive break with the past. Now is the time that we join forces as South Africans to make our country free at last.

As this historic year begins, let all our thoughts and actions celebrate this as the Year of Liberation for all South Africans.

Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika!

God bless Africa!