Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 84th Anniversary of the ANC
8 January 1996
Once more January 8th is upon us, enjoining us, this year, to mark the 84th
anniversary of the organisation of the people, the African National Congress.
This, our second year of democratic rule, will also feature a number of other
anniversaries. These dates are not mere landmarks in our glorious history of
struggle. They are an important part of the unbroken thread of our struggle
for the true liberation of our people which must continue and intensify.
I refer here to:
the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the South African Communist
Party, which was established in 1921;
the 50th anniversary of the great
mine workers strike of 1946;
the 50th anniversary of the historic Passive Resistance Campaign waged
by the Indian people in 1946;
the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter by the ANC
at its conference of 1956;
the 40th anniversary of the historic Women's March on Pretoria of 1956;
the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the peasant revolts in Zeerust
in 1956 which later spread to other areas such as Sekhukhuneland, Zululand
the 35th anniversary of the establishment in 1961 of the people's army,
Umkhonto we Sizwe; and,
the 20th anniversary of the epoch-making Soweto Uprising of 1976.
We will mark these anniversaries during the 84th year of the ANC as an affirmation
of our unwavering commitment to the fundamental transformation of our country
and the continuing mobilisation of all sectors of our population to persist
in their inalienable role as their own liberators.
Setting the agenda
As invariably happens when the time comes to gather the harvest, many have
appeared in our midst who claim that they, and not the millions who sustained
the struggle for many decades under the leadership of the ANC, are the ones
who planted the seed and tended the tree of freedom.
Among these are those who, for decades, opposed all the forms of mass struggle
to which we were obliged to resort. They were pleased to find excuses for the
forces of repression when they responded to peaceful struggle with the gun,
the sjambok and handcuffs.
These are the elements who denounced us when we called on the world to outlaw
and isolate the inhuman system of apartheid, to say nothing of their outrage
when we took up arms to rid our country of the apartheid crime against humanity.
They comforted themselves that all manner of atrocities against the democratic
movement were permissible as long as they could sustain a propaganda campaign
which sought to label us as communists, terrorists and agents of foreign powers.
They pontificated that "no black person was capable of successfully governing
a country as sophisticated as South Africa is". In triumph they said - look
at the rest of Africa. To this day, many have not abandoned these deep-seated
and insulting attitudes.
These include our erstwhile oppressors who, today, cynically portray themselves
as the forces which brought down apartheid and as the champions of democracy,
justice and the socio-economic aspirations of the poor.
Even now, these new-found fighters against apartheid feel no sense of shame
whatsoever when they blame the terrible human and social tragedy we have inherited
from our apartheid past, on the victims of white minority domination, and those
who fought to free our country from this colonial heritage.
This posturing by our political opponents derives neither from mere vanity
nor from ignorance of the history of our country and struggle.
It reflects a struggle which intensifies with each passing day, to define
the agenda of the democratic order. It represents a determined effort to determine
for our country and people the content, the form and the pace of the transformation
Simply put, among the critical questions we must answer practically, are-what
is fundamental change, and who shall set the agenda for that change!
Confronting the apartheid heritage
We have inherited a society characterised by a juxtaposition of both major
negative features and important positive factors. It is necessary that at all
times we understand these as well as their interaction.
Millions of our people are victims of abject poverty. The overwhelming majority
among these are black. Their life condition is described by joblessness, homelessness,
landlessness and no access to education, health and opportunities for self-advancement.
Within the black communities, among the worst affected by this human degradation
are the women, the youth, disabled people, the elderly as well as the millions
of our rural masses.
This situation will not correct itself. Both the public and the private sectors
will have to make their contribution to expedite the process of tangible and
sustained progress away from this unacceptable situation.
The distribution of wealth, income and opportunity in our society continues
to be determined in terms of race and colour, a situation that will perpetuate
itself if we do not elaborate policies and implement programmes to end this
continued entrenchment of racism.
Our society is also victim to unacceptably high levels of crime. This, too,
is part of our heritage from the past and is driven by a variety of causes.
One of these, and the most obvious, is precisely the joblessness and lack
of opportunity which is the lot of millions of our people. Progress in these
areas therefore lies at the heart of our future success in the fight against
The thousands of our honest policemen and women have continued to carry out
their work with great dedication and a spirit of self-sacrifice. They themselves
have recognised the need to empower them by further training to raise their
levels of proficiency and professionalism.
Work in this regard has started and must continue so that we further improve
the quality of our policing and law enforcement.
At the same time, it is clear that we need to increase the strength of the
police service, better its working conditions, improve its logistical base as
well as continue to attend to the critical matter of ensuring good relations
between the police and the communities they serve.
Of great importance also is the need to reassert the primacy of social morality
among our people as a whole.
A new patriotism
This must form part of a new patriotism which should inspire and motivate the
majority of our people to unite around a common perspective, whose vibrant core
must be the building of a new and winning nation.
The illegitimacy of the apartheid system and the lawlessness and moral bankruptcy
of white minority rule has created for us a crisis of ethics.
The erstwhile ruling group has infused our society with a culture of rapacity
which is informed by the heartless concept of each one for himself or herself
and the devil take the hindmost.
Out of this terrible world, which feeds and nurtures criminal behaviour, have
emerged, ugly and venomous:
scant respect for human life and the dignity of the individual;
pervasive corruption affecting both the mighty and the lowly;
disdain for the right of the citizen to hold their possessions in conditions
terror against those who are weak and vulnerable, including women and
children; as well as,
disregard for the norms that make for a just, equitable and stable civil
order, including the obligations of the individual with respect to public
property and public revenues.
Progress in the reconstruction and development of our country can thus not
be measured solely in terms of the volume of material benefits that accrue to
the citizen, but must be judged also by the overall quality of life enjoyed
by the citizenry, as well as the health of society as a whole.
These are matters we must address in open debate. As we strive to root out
the rot, we must draw on a tradition and a human instinct which is by no means
extinct, the ethical tapestry described as ubuntu.
The task of healing the wounds of the past is not yet accomplished. The challenge
of national reconciliation remains firmly on our agenda.
Much still remains to be done to build a common sense of nationhood, in which
none should define their destiny in racial or ethnic terms, separate from and
in conflict with the destiny of our nation as a whole.
It is in this context that we must continue the struggle to give life to what
we said in the Freedom Charter - that South Africa belongs to all who live in
it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless
it is based on the will of the people as a whole.
But the national reconciliation for which we continue to struggle cannot be
founded on the preservation and perpetuation of the old order of white privilege
and black deprivation.
True reconciliation does not consist in merely forgetting the past. It does
not rest with black forgiveness, sensitivity to white fears and tolerance of
an unjust status quo, on one hand, and white gratitude and appreciation underlined
by a tenacious clinging to exclusive privilege, on the other.
Fundamentally, it has to be based on the creation of a truly democratic, non-racial
and non-sexist society so that everything that leads to racial and ethnic tension
and conflict in our society is done away with.
A serious challenge therefore faces especially our white compatriots to grasp
fully the importance of their role in the efforts to achieve national reconciliation.
Together with them, we must answer the question - what is it that they must
do to make a meaningful contribution to this vital national objective.
It is also vitally important that we continue the struggle to ensure that the
machinery of state and the assets which the state disposes of, are properly
geared to serve the interests of the people as a whole.
That state machinery and resource base cannot truly serve the cause of a democratic,
non-racial and non-sexist order unless they undergo a process of transformation,
whose content clearly cannot be defined by those who were the principle beneficiaries
of the old order.
Fundamental though this is, it is not sufficient that we have elected organs
of government which are accountable to the people. It is also critically important
that the instruments of governance be structured and motivated to fulfil the
democratically expressed will of the people.
Here is yet another theatre of struggle in which we will have to overcome
the resistance of those who wish to cling to the benefits and the practices
Such resistance has to be overcome because it seeks to perpetuate the system
of ill-gotten gains which derived from the pursuit of the objectives of the
exclusive upliftment of the white section of our population and the entrenchment
of the apartheid system, including its bantustan offshoots.
Similarly, we must ensure that all our elected representatives, at national,
provincial and local levels, themselves discharge their responsibilities to
the people in an efficient, effective and honest manner.
Thus we need to empower them with the skills and resources to ensure that
they accomplish this objective. There can be no gainsaying the fact that on
these, who constitute an important layer of leadership in our country, rests,
in good measure, the responsibility to inspire the people, provide them with
a vision and ensure that their hopes and aspirations are adequately addressed.
Yet another challenge ahead of us is the completion of the process of constitution-making,
as part of our effort further to entrench democracy in our country.
Of critical importance in this regard is the need to ensure that this fundamental
law is fully expressive of various tenets, including:
the concept and practice of democratic majority rule;
protection of human rights;
protection of language, cultural and other rights of all national groups;
the unity of our country while recognising its diversity;
a proper distribution of power between the various tiers of government
without this leading to fragmentation;
the empowerment of civil society to participate in the process of governance;
as well as,
efficient, open and accountable government.
It is also important that we complete the new constitution within the period
we set ourselves so that, as soon as possible, the country has a clear vision
of the constitutional framework within which it will function.
Our international obligations
If for no other reason, as a result of the history of our liberation struggle,
we know very well that we are part of a wider world. In the sphere of international
activity our tasks are many, varied and interdependent.
A stable peace in our country is not possible without peace outside our borders.
Our prosperity is not possible in a world afflicted by poverty and economic
Our own freedom as a people is diminished when another people are not free.
Thus we have a continuing responsibility to make whatever contribution we
can to the struggle for the birth of the new world order that is spoken of,
so that the peoples of the world, including ourselves, live in conditions of
democracy, peace, prosperity and equality among nations.
In pursuing these objectives, we must be careful to avoid great power arrogance
and conferring on ourselves a misplaced messianic role. As a liberation movement
we have always insisted on our own right to determine our future.
When we act in solidarity with other peoples, as we will continue to do, we
must bear these principles in mind, consistently acting in a manner that takes
into account all factors and not merely what may seem fashionable on a particular
Such are some of the principal items that we, as the leading political representative
of the people of our country, must, in practical ways, put on the South African
Out of this perspective must derive a programme of transformation which recognises
both the urgent need to address all these issues and the resource constraints
which might limit our capacity to realise the objectives we set ourselves.
The order of the day
In this context, let us therefore indicate some of the specific tasks we must
aim to achieve during this, the 84th anniversary of our movement.
We have already dealt with the issue of the completion of the Constitution.
It will therefore be the responsibility of the relevant organs of our movement
to make certain that they position themselves in a manner which will ensure
that our objectives with regard to the new Constitution are realised.
In this regard, we would like to reiterate our call to the IFP to return to
the Constitutional Assembly, unconditionally. We must emphasise the point that
the CA is a democratically elected body, mandated by the people to draft and
adopt a new constitution.
The CA is therefore the only route available to all the political formations
in our country, without exception, and to our people in general, to advance
their constitutional objectives and to contribute to the constitutional future
of our country.
Furthermore, we want to advise the traditional leaders in our country to abandon
the illusion that there can ever emerge a constitutional settlement which grants
them powers that would compromise the fundamental objective of a genuine democracy
in which the legislature and the executive at all levels are made up essentially
of elected representatives.
We believe that the present constitution has adequate provisions to address
the question of the role of traditional leaders. We accept that these provisions
should be carried over into the new constitution.
Those who entertain the idea of the establishment of regions based on race
or ethnicity should also reconsider their position. The protection of the cultural,
language and other rights of all our national groups is fundamental to our own
We need to sit down to discuss and agree on how the exercise of these rights
can be ensured and protected from being undermined by any arbitrary actions
of the government of the day.
The idea that the future of any national group would best be secured by the
establishment of an ethnic state ignores the fact that it was precisely this
apartheid "solution" that led to the conflict which the democratic settlement
seeks to end.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has now been established. It will
be important that the Commission strives to complete its work as speedily as
possible, without sacrificing the objective of establishing the truth about
gross human rights violations of the past.
As a movement we are committed to contributing what we can to ensure that
the Commission also achieves its goals both of exposing the truth so that such
human rights violations do not recur and contributing to the process of reconciliation
among the forces engaged in a life-and-death struggle, the one to defend the
system of apartheid and the other, to secure our national liberation.
Vengeance is not our goal. The building of a new nation at peace with itself
because it is reconciled with its past, is our objective. Let us all therefore
tell the truth that has to be told, and thus become architects of the new order
of respect for the life, the dignity and the rights of every citizen.
The third important political challenge we face this year is to secure a decisive
victory for the genuinely democratic forces in the Local Government elections
that will be held in KwaZulu/Natal and the Cape Town metropole, in the same
way we did in the national, provincial and local elections.
This victory, for which we must work very hard, will be vital in terms of
the rejection by all our people of the ethnic and racial agendas which some
political forces in our country continue to pursue, a further impulse towards
the creation of a non-racial society.
It will also serve as an affirmation of the commitment of these masses to
the vision we have put forward, of the fundamental reconstruction and development
of our country in the interest of all its people and of ensuring that power
truly resides in the hands of the people.
As a movement, we commit ourselves to continue to conduct our election campaign
as we have done before, without resort to violence and intimidation. We call
on other parties thus to commit themselves as we do, in both word and deed.
Furthermore, we must ensure that the people themselves take up the struggle
for an end to violence and the creation of a climate conducive to free political
activity, especially in KwaZulu/Natal.
For its part, the government will have to discharge its responsibility to
ensure that the forthcoming local government elections are conducted in conditions
of peace and stability, so that they are indeed free and fair.
Government will also have to take additional steps further to expedite economic
growth and development, among other things to address the challenge to create
new jobs and new wealth that would improve the standard of living and the quality
of life of our people.
In this regard, we, together with our allies and the rest of the democratic
movement, must continue to grapple with the issues of the restructuring of state
assets, the reorganisation of the public service and the redirection of public
expenditure to focus on the development needs of our country and people, while
maintaining the necessary fiscal discipline.
Our approach to all these matters will continue to be informed by our pursuit
of the objectives contained in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.
About this there can be no equivocation.
Our approach will also continue to be informed by the reality that that programme,
and life itself, demand that we do indeed change what we have inherited from
the apartheid system to serve the interests of the people as a whole.
It cannot be in the interest of the democratic movement or consistent with
the new South Africa that we are struggling to create, for us to be satisfied
merely to tinker with the apartheid heritage rather than boldly to restructure
it in a manner consistent with serving the objective of a better life for all.
The democratic movement must engage all these matters expeditiously. We must
ensure that we act as a united force on these issues which stand at the centre
of the battle for the modernisation and restructuring of the South African economy
and decisively improving the delivery of affordable services to the people.
This year new steps will also have to be taken to improve the rate of investment
in the social infrastructure, including housing, communication, education, health,
water and sanitation.
In this regard, all structures of our movement should gear themselves to assist
in these development processes especially in the context of the Masakhane Campaign.
We must spread the understanding among the people that they themselves are
vital participants in development and not mere recipients of goods and services
from state organs from which they are alienated.
In as much as the people took many initiatives directly to participate in
the struggle for their own liberation, so must they now again take the initiative
as the owners and activists of the process of reconstruction and development.
The Masakhane Campaign, conducted at the grassroot level, must therefore aim
to encourage and secure this popular participation in development. As part of
this process, our formations must then also link up and work with the democratically
elected structures and representatives at the local government level.
As part of our offensive to ensure popular participation in development, it
is also important that we continue to secure the involvement of community-based
and non-governmental organisations.
We ourselves must work with these organisations, provided they are genuinely
committed to the promotion of the objectives stated in the national vision of
reconstruction and development and, in practice, carry out programmes which
actually help to empower the people and improve their lives.
Similarly, as a movement, we must seriously take on board the challenge of
opening up the economy to allow for entry into the economy both of small and
medium business, especially black business, as well as international investors.
This is critical to the objective of achieving modernisation and expansion
of the economy, international competitiveness and job creation.
Among other things, this will require the strengthening of anti-monopoly and
anti-trust legislation and measures as well as practical steps to facilitate
the growth of micro, small and medium business.
In this regard we must expect that vested interests will wage an ideological
struggle intended to protect the status quo by arguing that these matters should
be left to the "market", with minimal state intervention.
The reality however is that this market, left to its own devices, can only
work in a manner that further perpetuates the structural problems that limit
growth, equity, innovation, diversification and competitiveness.
On the broader social plane, we must activate all our structures to join in
the crusade against crime in all its forms, focusing on the concept of "the
people united against crime and violence".
In particular, we must ensure that all communities are mobilised to join hands
with the police service in their difficult fight against crime while our own
structures, from the branch upwards, make this a permanent feature on their
In the same way as we brought an end to the apartheid crime against humanity
in struggle, so must we, through united struggle, clear our society of the criminals
who, among other things, continue to terrorise all our people and rob the state
of its much needed revenues.
There are elements within our society who have not yet come to terms with
the permanence of the democratic settlement and that the black majority will,
together with its white compatriots, participate in the democratic process of
determining the destiny of our country.
These forces continue to hope for a situation in which the most backward political
forces in our country would regain the positions they have lost.
To achieve this goal, they are prepared to use all means at their disposal
including murder, subversion and disinformation. Indeed we must expect that
as the process of transformation deepens so will their resistance get more desperate.
Their principal objective is to weaken and destroy the ANC in particular and
the democratic movement in general, at all costs, and to turn the people against
They also aim to create as many obstacles as they can to ensure that the new
government is not able to effect the social and other changes to which it is
This situation calls for maximum vigilance throughout our ranks, in defence
both of the principled unity of the movement and its organised capacity to discharge
its responsibilities to the nation.
It also demands of our members that they act in a disciplined manner, loyal
to the constitution and the policies of our organisation.
This we must inscribe on our banners that through vigilance and discipline
we will defeat the forces of counter-revolution!
Mobilise the people
The practical programmes we have to carry out this year emphasise the importance
of the mobilisation of our people to continue the struggle for democracy, peace
In this regard, we must educate the people to treat the state as their own,
an instrument in their hands in the common effort to achieve a better life for
all on a sustainable basis.
We must discourage the notion that the state is a social organism from which
the people are necessarily alienated and towards which they stand in political
opposition or from which they passively wait for entitlements.
We must not underestimate the challenges that face us in effecting the transition
from a resistance movement to the leader of a complex process of the fundamental
transformation of our country.
History has now charged us with the responsibility of pursuing the democratic
revolution in conditions where much of political power is in the hands of the
This transition will not occur merely as a result of its better theoretical
understanding on the part of both our movement and people.
Above all, it is practice that will teach the people how to take their destiny
into their own hands in the new conditions, how to use the power in their hands
not as a protest movement, but as organised and conscious fighters for the transformation
of our society.
It is for this reason that we have a responsibility to mobilise our people
in all their sectors to ensure their engagement in the continuing struggle for
democracy, peace and development, with each sector having tasks that relate
to its specific situation while being an integral part of our overall programme
Strengthen the movement
Everything we have said points to the critical importance of ensuring that
our movement as a whole is clear in its objectives, understands and adheres
to our strategy and tactics and relentlessly pursues the immediate tasks of
our democratic revolution.
This emphasises the urgency of carrying out consistent political work throughout
the movement, of developing our cadres and of ensuring that we have the organisational
capacity to do this work.
It also speaks to the need to ensure that we actually have a strong organisation,
rooted among the people and capable of reaching all parts of our country and
all sections of our population.
We will therefore have to take all necessary steps to bring to an end the
organisational instability that inevitably resulted from the deployment of many
of our leading cadres in various areas of government.
The work to strengthen our organisational structures must take pride of place.
As part of the work, we must attend to the further expansion of our membership.
We must ensure the proper functioning of all our structures.
We must further strengthen the unity of the movement around our strategy,
our tactics, policies and programmes.
We must work to ensure the cohesion of the tripartite alliance and the rest
of the democratic movement.
In terms both of policy and practical work, we must ensure that the movement
continues to provide leadership to all our members, regardless of where they
All structures and individuals, from the branch upwards, must be clear about
their tasks and be held responsible actually to carry out these tasks.
It is only in this way that we can ensure our cohesion and guarantee ourselves
the capacity to lead our country as a whole, fully conscious of the fact that
outside of the democratic movement, no other force exists in our country which
can carry through a genuinely people-centred programme of fundamental transformation.
Strengthen the leagues
The Youth and Women's Leagues are important formations which are vital to the
success of our work. Our movement has the responsibility to help strengthen
the Leagues. This process must also ensure that they achieve better success
in reaching all the national groups in our country, in their continuing effort
to become truly non-racial in their composition.
The empowerment and development of the youth is central to the whole process
of the upliftment of our people and renewal of our society. The youth themselves
continue to be a vital player among the forces engaged in the struggle for the
fundamental transformation of our country.
It is in this context that the Youth League is, once again, called upon to
play a pioneering role in terms of helping to engage the youth in the new tasks
which arise as a result of the defeat of the system of apartheid.
We can justly be proud of the constitutional and political framework we have
already established to address the fundamental question of the emancipation
of women. We must continue to place this strategic objective at the centre of
the struggle to create a new society.
In this regard, we would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the
women of our country for the excellent contribution they made towards the success
of the 4th UN World Conference on Women held in Beijing and urge our government
and country as a whole to implement the decisions taken at the Conference.
Central to our success in this regard and to the global objective of the emancipation
and empowerment of women, is a strong Women's League, united around a clear
vision of its responsibilities and enjoying the support and confidence of the
women of our country.
We must do everything necessary to enable the Women's League to regain this
Unite for democracy, peace and development
Almost two years ago, the heroic struggle the people had waged for decades,
under the leadership of the ANC, brought us to the point where a government
chosen by all our people could take power.
Twice, within a period of 18 months, the people expressed their confidence
in the ANC as the genuine representative of their aspirations.
Thus we can say that during this period, regardless of what detractors say,
we have not failed the people. A good beginning has been made!
There are many examples we can cite in this regard, ranging from the steady
recovery of the economy, the continuous decline of political violence in all
parts of the country, except KwaZulu/Natal to the strengthening of the institutional
base of our democracy.
Among others, they also include the adoption of new legislation which seeks
to transform our country into a truly non-racial and non-sexist democracy as
well as the important beginning that has been made to meet the needs of the
people in such areas as health and nutrition. access to land, clean water, jobs
And yet there have been persistent attempts to project a fictional mass disillusionment
among the people, based on the misrepresentation of their capacity to understand
the difficult situation we have inherited.
However, the masses of our people have, in fact, continued to demonstrate
that they clearly realise that what faces us is a protracted struggle for transformation
that will be won through dogged persistence rather than seemingly spectacular
but short-lived quick solutions.
As we mobilise the people to achieve new advances this year, we must rely
both on the loyalty of these masses and, inspired by the confidence of the people
in our movement, apply ourselves to our tasks tirelessly, to expedite the process
of addressing their aspirations and their urgent needs.
During this, the 84th year of the movement of the people, the ANC, let us
further enhance the strength of our movement, clearly understand our goals and
mobilise the people to achieve new victories in the continuing struggle for
democracy, peace and development.