Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 82nd Anniversary of the ANC
8 January 1994.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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!
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.