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Statement of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress on the occasion of the 97th Anniversary of the ANC

8 January 2009

INTRODUCTION

On the occasion of the 97th Anniversary of the African National Congress, we wish to extend to all our people best wishes for a successful and peaceful year.

We pay tribute to the millions of South Africans who continue daily to work towards the achievement of a better society and struggle tirelessly to overcome the devastating apartheid legacy.

We pay tribute to the poor in our villages, towns and cities, workers, youth, women, public servants, professionals, students, traditional leaders, health workers, teachers, farmers, religious leaders, public representatives, soldiers, police men and women, business people - people from all walks of life - who continue to contribute to our revolution on a daily basis.

It is due to their efforts that we can now say with confidence that much has been done in addressing the legacy of apartheid over the last 15 years and that much remains to be done.

KEY ANNIVERSARIES AND EVENTS

This year, we will celebrate a number of key anniversaries and events:

  • 65th Anniversary of the formation of the ANC Youth League, our revolutionary youth movement working for the social and economic liberation of young people in South Africa.
  • 40th Anniversary of the Morogoro Conference of 1969, the ANC`s first consultative conference since its banning.
  • 30th Anniversary of the formation of COSAS: Repression and the deteriorating state of education led to a group of dedicated and disciplined students to form the Congress of South African Students, COSAS, in 1979.
  • 30th Anniversary of the execution of Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, uMkhonto we Sizwe hero and a symbol of the sacrifices of our youth.
  • 20th Anniversary of the release of several Rivonia trialists, including Comrades Walter Sisulu, Wilton Mkwayi, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni and Ahmed Kathrada, a signal that the apartheid government was preparing itself for negotiations and the 21st anniversary of the release of comrade Govan Mbeki.
  • 20th Anniversary of the Harare Declaration, a document that provided a blueprint for a negotiated settlement in South Africa and which had an important impact on the balance of forces in the country.
  • 15th Anniversary of South Africa`s first democratic elections, the defining watershed moment in the struggle of the South African people to be free.
  • 130th Anniversary the epic Battle of Isandlwana, where the army of King Cetshwayo fought off British imperialist forces, on 22 January 1879. The first 15 years of democracy

THE FIRST 15 YEARS OF DEMOCRACY

The ANC, together with our people, has achieved much in addressing the challenges facing our country.

We brought an end to apartheid and have put in place many policies and programmes to address the legacy of this scourge.

We have put in place measures that resulted In 500 000 new jobs being created annually since 2004 and have expanded Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) coverage to include nearly a million domestic and farm workers. Other laws aimed at workers include those setting out basic conditions of employment, regulations setting minimum wages for domestic workers, farm workers, those in the taxi industry and security sectors.

Access to social grants increased massively from 3 million people in 1997 to 12.5 million in 2008. The ANC government provided 18.7 million more people with access to clean water and 10.9 million more people with sanitation. >From 1994 to 2008, 3.1 million housing subsidies were approved, and 2.3 million units were completed. This brought housing to 9.9 million more citizens who could access state-subsidised housing opportunities. Of the subsidies, 53% went to women-headed households. Significant progress has been made in the expansion of free primary health care and building of new clinics and hospitals. We have also refurbished and revitalised many public hospitals. Our anti-retroviral treatment (ART) programme is amongst the most comprehensive and best in the world.

We have made significant progress in providing access to education to South Africans, with a total of 98% of children between 7 to 15 years being enrolled in schools. The matriculation pass rate has also increased from 58% in 1994 to 65% in 2007.

Since 1994, 140,000 students have benefited from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which is aimed at improving participation rates amongst disadvantaged South Africans.

Mass mobilisation around our literacy campaigns is now covering more than 500 000 of our people who cannot read and write. We are well within targets to ensure South Africa is free of illiteracy by 2014.

The impact of these economic and social policies has seen a significant reduction in the level of severe poverty and improvement in the quality of life of millions of South Africans.

These policies have had a particularly important impact on the lives of women living in poverty. Female-headed households receive a larger than average share of the social wage. This is largely because women are disproportionately affected by poverty. Easier access to clean running water, proper sanitation and electricity eases the burden on women and young girls.

Our country has become more cohesive, as we have gradually developed a common sense of nationhood.

Together, we have celebrated many achievements in sport, notably we became the Rugby World Champions twice, won the African Cup of Nations, and achieved distinction in a number of other sporting disciplines, including at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

We have also been awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup and are working very hard to ensure that this event is a truly African event. The 2010 World Cup will be preceded by the Confederations Cup and we wish Bafana Bafana well during this prestigious tournament.

On the international front, the ANC government has strengthened the country`s role in peace, reconstruction and development, especially on the African continent. Our international responsibilities and recognition has also grown. Our membership of United Nations Security Council provided an opportunity to promote peace. Strategic partnerships with major countries of the South - China, India and Brazil - were strengthened. We have also been active in international global forums, such as the G20, to advance the South African development and the African agenda. We have in all cases demonstrated that we were a country of sound principle. Even with these important achievements, much remains to be done. Every South African, in every sphere of life, must contribute to creating a better country and a better world.

WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN DO MORE

The NEC`s message to the Morogoro Conference in 1969 was to intensify the revolution and to protect the unity of our organisation. This message was delivered under vastly different circumstances and was particularly aimed at intensifying the armed struggle.

As South Africans, this message of unity and accelerated change still finds resonance. We must protect our democracy and continue to put the struggle for a better life for all South Africans at the centre of our work.

The Political Report of the NEC of 1969 correctly identifies that the struggle is waged in a complex world and that the ANC`s response to this world must have regard to both domestic and international circumstances. This analysis remains valid in that we are still waging our struggle against underdevelopment and poverty in a complex world and our responses to the challenges facing our society are directly influenced by prevailing domestic and international circumstances.

However, the ANC`s strategic goal remains the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and all our actions and policies are aimed towards achieving this goal. Despite major achievements since 1994, much still needs to be done.

Many households and communities remain trapped in poverty. Unemployment remains stubbornly high. There has been a growth of casualised and outsourced jobs, which results in hundreds of workers being unable to benefit from worker rights.

Inequality has increased and workers` share of national income has been declining. Accompanying high unemployment and inequality is the rising cost of living for many of our people.

The rural areas remain divided. There are well-developed commercial farming areas and impoverished former homelands and other deep rural areas. Land and agrarian reforms have not produced all the desired results.

While there have been significant achievements in quantitative terms, much more needs to be done to improve the quality of our education and health services.

Crime is a national concern and much more needs to be done to fight crime and all forms of corruption. We also note that young people, people with disabilities, children and women still carry the greater burden of poverty and deprivation.

The socio-economic challenges are closely bound with our task of nation building. Part of the nation-building process is the struggle against racism, sexism, tribalism and xenophobia, which continue to plague our society.

We also need to take into account changing international conditions, particularly the ongoing global financial crisis, and the spectre of global economic recession. Its likely impacts on our domestic situation - slowdown in production, potential job losses, rising prices - will need to be addressed.

However, the ANC is a revolutionary organisation that is always prepared to meet the challenges it faces head-on. As we said in Morogoro in 1969, the `art of revolutionary leadership consists in providing leadership to the masses and not just its most advanced elements; it consists of setting a pace which accords with objective conditions and real possibilities at hand.`

The ANC remains, together with the people of this country, the only organisation able to tackle our challenges and bring about a better life for all South Africans. Particularly, because we are a national liberation movement and not subject to the narrow or exclusive interests of one class or race or particular group of people, we are in the best position to give effect to the hopes and aspirations of all South Africans. This is what distinguishes our organisation from all others. It defines the soul and character of this revolutionary and democratic movement of the people.

The ANC has identified five key priorities aimed at addressing the enormous challenges facing South Africa, today. In this regard, the ANC evaluated its policies prior to Polokwane, and within the context of the Polokwane Resolutions, we will implement a strategy of continuity and change. We will retain those strategies and practices that have been successful, but will change or improve those that have not delivered optimal results.

This year our country will hold its fourth national elections since the attainment of democracy in 1994. The ANC has developed a manifesto that calls on the experience and vision of all South Africans. We made an objective analysis of our achievements and challenges; consulted widely through processes such as the Alliance Summit, the Mass Democratic Movement Summit, the Alliance Economic Summit, the Religious Summit and the Manifesto Conference. We also invited the public at large to participate through the "My ANC, My Vision, My Future" campaign and we received thousands of suggestions in this manner. All these are indicative of an ANC that cares about the people of South Africa and an ANC that believes fundamentally that South Africans must themselves shape the vision of the society that they seek.

THE DEVELOPMENTAL STATE

Key to implementing government policy is a developmental state with a strong planning capacity and the ability to intervene in strategic areas. This is not a state that micro-manages all aspects of government, but rather that acts as an effective system of ongoing coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of government programmes and projects.

An important aspect of a successful developmental state is the capacity of public servants to execute the tasks with which they have been entrusted. This means that the right personnel should be placed in the correct positions. Where this is not the case, government should implement corrective measures, through training and redeployment, where warranted.

State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and development finance institutions (DFIs) have important roles to play in achieving the goal of a better life for all. These institutions must have clear and concise developmental mandates.

Our people have spoken clearly. They say that development finance institutions DFIs are not easily accessible and that they often seem to be competing with commercial banks. This is not right. The ANC in government has already completed a review of these institutions, and their mandates are being refined and their methods of operating tailored to their specific developmental functions.

State Owned Enterprises have specific developmental roles to play and are fundamental to the ability of government to intervene decisively in shaping the economic and social future of this country. As agents for public service delivery in important areas, such as energy and transport, these SOEs cannot have the same regard to profit maximisation as private entities. At the same time, they must not perpetually be running at a loss. They must have high standards of service delivery and be key drivers in terms of meeting industrial policy objectives.

State Owned Enterprises are also key to the ANC government`s ongoing infrastructure expansion programme, through which we will expand and grow the rail networks, public transport, and port operations, dams, housing construction, information and communications technology and energy generation capacity as well as education and health infrastructure. Through these activities, we will directly and indirectly intervene in the economic growth of our country and region.

THE CREATION OF DECENT WORK AND SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS

The 52nd Conference resolution on economic transformation states clearly that people acting collectively in the spirit of human solidarity will shape the patterns of economic development. This means that there is a role for all sectors of society in shaping our economic and social future. The role of the state is explicitly set out as directly investing in underdeveloped areas and directing as well as influencing private sector investment.

The creation of decent work is at the centre of all our economic policies. Decent work encompasses considerations of a sufficient number of jobs, the quality of available jobs, social dialogue and social protection.

The term sustainable livelihoods refers to having adequate means of living or having adequate means to support life and meet individual and community needs.

The ANC has during 2008 devoted substantial time and energy to developing costed strategies to achieve the imperatives of creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods. Some of these measures are already being implemented, most notably the public infrastructure expansion programme and several public works programmes.

We will put in place a comprehensive state-led industrial policy that will direct public and private investment to support employment creation and broader economic transformation.

South Africa is blessed with significant natural resources and the ANC will ensure that these resources are strategically utilised to benefit our people.

EDUCATION

Our approach to education derives its inspiration from the Freedom Charter.

The charter says;

Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children; Higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit; Adult illiteracy shall be ended by a mass state education plan; Teachers shall have all the rights of other citizens; The colour bar in cultural life, in sport and in education shall be abolished.

We need to invest in the education of the population to be able to grow our economy and improve the socio-economic status of our people,

Using some of the Millennium Development Goals as benchmarks - achieving universal primary education, improving quality and eliminating disparities in education generally - the ANC will build on the achievements we have already made in education.

We will introduce a sustainable early childhood development (ECD) system that spans both public and private sectors and gives children a head start in numeracy and literacy. The ANC government will also train and employ 15 000 trainers per annum and strengthen support for ECD centres in rural villages and urban centres.

We will work to improve the quality of schooling, particularly performance in maths, science and technology. Measures will include provision of incentives for maths and science teachers.

The ANC will improve the access of poor South Africans to quality education, by ensuring that 60% of schools are no-fee schools this year, as part of the progressive introduction of free and compulsory education for the poor until they enter university,

We will work together with educators, parents, school governing bodies and other stakeholders to make education the priority of all.

We must continue our efforts to promote the status of teachers and improve their remuneration, in response to our expectations that they would meet the non-negotiables we have put forward. These are that they must be in school, in class, on time, teaching, no abuse of learners and no neglect of duty.

We are reviving the role of state owned enterprises in skills development and training and will also place Further Education and Training colleges at the centre of a popular drive to transfer skills to our people.

We will review the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to facilitate the progressive introduction of free education for the poor at undergraduate level.

It is important to strengthen the relationship between government and organised labour at all levels of the education system, to ensure that public sector workers play a central role in achieving the objectives of transforming education and improving quality education.

HEALTH

There have been many achievements in improving access to health care, but much more needs to be done in terms of quality of care, making services available to all South Africans and ensuring better health outcomes.

South Africa commands huge health care resources compared with many other middle-income countries, yet the bulk of these resources are in the private sector and serve a minority of the population, thereby undermining the country`s ability to produce quality care and improve health care outcomes.

The ANC is determined to end the huge inequalities that exist in the public and private sectors by making sure that these sectors work together. The ANC will pursue the introduction of a National Health Insurance (NHI) system, which will be phased in over the next five years.

The NHI will be publicly funded and publicly administered and will provide every South African with access to quality health care which will be free at the point of delivery. People will have a choice of which service provider to use within the district.

A social solidarity principle will be applied and those who are eligible to contribute will be required to do so, according to their ability to pay. Access to health care will not be according to payment.

Participation of private doctors working in other health facilities in group practices and hospitals will be encouraged

Many of our public hospitals need to be revitalised and the working conditions of our health sector workers must be improved.

Government has already made progress in upgrading facilities in many public hospitals and clinics. This will be expanded in the next five years

The ANC will also improve the quality standards in both the public and private sectors, which will include providing adequate numbers of health care workers at all levels of public facilities through increased training, recruitment and filling of funded vacant posts. Health workers will receive decent wages and their conditions of service will be improved. The ANC government will ensure democratic governance and improved management, and leadership skills at all levels of the health system, as well as meeting the national standards of quality care.

In 2005 it was estimated that about five million South Africans were living with HIV. The fight against AIDS can only be won through collaboration with all partners. We need to dedicate the requisite financial and human resources to implement the National HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011.

The primary aim of the HIV and AIDS National Strategic Plan is to reduce the rate of new infections by 50% through an aggressive information and prevention campaign. We will also seek to reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on individuals, families, communities and society by expanding access to appropriate treatment, care and support to 80% of all HIV-positive people and their families.

The ANC government will strengthen the formal partnership against AIDS in our country in the form of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). The structure brings together government, business, labour, women, youth, religious leaders, entertainment fraternity and many others bound by a common goal of ensuring that the epidemic does not reverse the gains we have made.

We will continue to mobilise our communities around the Healthy Lifestyles Campaign, including the anti-tobacco campaign and the campaign against alcohol and substance abuse.

CRIME

The level of crime in our country is unacceptable. There is a need to overhaul the criminal justice system to ensure that we drastically reduce the levels of crime in our country.

Crime is therefore a priority of the ANC in the next five years. At the centre of our fight against crime will be the establishment of the new modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system (CJS) with a view to enhancing the capacity for fighting and reducing crime in real terms.

The ANC government has stated its goal of reducing serious and violent crime, and in particular contact crimes, by 7 to 10% a year.

The transformation of the entire criminal justice will be linked to mobilising communities and the establishment of street committees to assist law enforcement agencies and complement visible policing.

Resources would be allocated to better equip and remunerate those tasked with police and judicial services duties.

The fight against corruption will form part of our struggle against crime. The ANC will step up measures in the fight against corruption within its ranks and the state. This will include measures to review the tendering system, to ensure that ANC members in business, public servants and elected representatives do not abuse the state for corrupt practices. It is imperative to ensure that politicians and civil servants do not tamper with the adjudication of tenders. Measures will also be taken to ensure transparent process of the tendering system as well as ensuring much stronger accountability of the public servants involved in tendering process.

Following the dissolution of the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) and the incorporation of its functions into the SAPS, we need to pay particular attention to ensuring the SAPS is capacitated, in terms of technical ability and resources to respond more effectively to priority crimes

AGRARIAN AND LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT

Rural development and agrarian reform is integral to the struggle to create a better life for all.

The rural situation in South Africa is still characterised by division; there are well-developed areas and the former homelands and other deep rural areas, where the majority of our people, especially rural women, continue to live in conditions of degradation and poverty. This must change.

Unemployment in rural areas is disproportionately high, and many rural areas lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supply. These conditions force people to migrate to urban areas in search of a better life, which adds to the lack of human resources in rural areas and places an increased burden on service delivery in urban areas. Part of the answer is thus to develop the rural areas.

One area that will require continued attention is the upscaling of social and economic infrastructure and the extension of quality government services, especially health and education, to rural areas. This has already started and the ANC has a stated aim that by 2014 all rural schools and health facilities will have adequate basic infrastructure.

Current land reform initiatives, including the Land and Agricultural Reform Programme, are in the process of being strengthened and expanded to create sustainable rural livelihoods on a mass scale.

Food security is linked to the agrarian and land reform programme. South Africa is currently a net importer of food. We need to increase our food production. This will be linked to measures aimed at developing the cooperative, smallholder and skills development in the agricultural sector.

We have also put in place a range of emergency social development measures such as the Social Relief of Distress Grant and food assistance projects, like soup kitchens, to address the immediate food challenges.

The developmental state is also one that provides a safety net for its most vulnerable citizens. South Africa already provides a range of social grants for its citizens and one of the further measures we will introduce is the progressive implementation of the Child Support Grant for children between 15 and 18 years of age. Implementation will be linked to other requirements, including compulsory schooling.

WORKING TOGETHER, WE CAN DO MORE.

Tasks of the Movement

In December 2007, the 52nd Conference asked us to begin a period of renewal of the values, character and organisational practices of the ANC as a leading force for progressive change. Every ANC cadre must ask himself or herself; how have I contributed to this task?

We have to acknowledge that the ANC has not been doing sufficient political education in the recent past. Branches must make political education part of the process of campaigning for the elections.

The most important task of the beginning of the year is to ensure that the ANC returns a decisive elections victory. Members must be knowledgeable about our Manifesto and programmes, and be an active part of the campaigning process.

We must rededicate ourselves to extensive mass mobilisation efforts, door-to-door work, public forums, house and town-hall meetings, small and large gatherings. When we mobilise our people, we must talk about the issues that affect them directly. All our campaigns should aim to mobilise people to participate in programmes aimed at creating a better life for all. Mass mobilisation should entail mass education, mass distribution of information, and mass participation in practical programmes.

The ANC will continue our concerted efforts to contribute to a better Africa and world.

Our organisation was formed and evolved as part of progressive forces across the globe in the fight against colonialism, racism, poverty, underdevelopment and gender oppression. We continue to agitate for an Africa and world that is based on the creation of a just, humane and equitable world order.

The global financial crisis demands a global response. This response must address the immediate dangers posed by the financial collapse and global recession. But it must also turn the crisis into an opportunity for a more democratic system of global economic and financial governance. It is only on the basis of a new economic multilateralism, which is both legitimate and effective that we can secure the conditions for the sustainable, inclusive and balanced global growth. This is what informs our position on various issues affecting the world and our continent.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS

The ANC Annual Achievement Awards were initiated to promote a greater focus on the organisational tasks of building branches, strengthening local government and building the leagues.

The awards aim to highlight the features of strong branches and councils and to reward best practice within the movement.

The awards are name for outstanding cadres of the ANC, whose individual qualities of commitment and selflessness are an example to every ANC member. During their lives, each of these people made an immeasurable contribution to the struggle for freedom and a better life for all.

We are pleased to announce the winners of the ANC Achievement Awards for 2008:

  • The Sol Plaatje Award, conferred on the best performing ANC branch, goes to the Morogoro Branch in Limpopo. The runner-up is the Busa Branch in Mpumalanga.
  • The Charlotte Maxeke Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Women`s League branch, goes to the Sihlangu Makhubela Branch in Limpopo.
  • The Anton Lembede Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branch, goes to the Boboyi Branch in KwaZulu Natal. The runner-up is the Margate Branch in KwaZulu Natal.
  • The ZK Matthews Award, conferred on the best performing group of ANC councillors goes to the ANC councillors of the Musina Local Municipality in Limpopo.

We congratulate the winners and runners-up on their hard work and commitment, and trust that they will continue to be the best examples of ANC structures.

TRIBUTES

We take this opportunity to pay tribute to the patriots who passed away during the past year. Among those who made an outstanding contribution to the struggle for freedom and dignity for all who left us during 2008 are:

Peter Raboroko, Thami Sindelo, Stan Nkosi, Joe Nhlanhla, Mojalefa Mahlasela, Ncumisa Kondlo, John Gomomo, Andrew Masondo, Sihle Mbongwa, Kevin Qhobosheane, Brian Bunting, Billy Nair, Tiny Nokwe, Eva Modise, Kgomotso Ramekgo, Dr Nthato Motlana, January "Che" Masilela, Miriam Makeba, Esther Barsel, Liz (Nana) Abrahams, Cleophas Nsibande, Khalake Sello and Mandla Sithole.

We mourn their passing, and pass on to their families, friends, colleagues and comrades the heartfelt sympathies and condolences of the African National Congress.

In honouring these heroes of the revolution, and to deepen and accelerate the vision to which they dedicated their lives, the ANC National Executive Committee declares 2009 "The Year to Defend the Unity of our Organisation and Protect the Gains of our National Democratic Revolution."