Fellow South Africans,
Comrades and friends:
Today is the 8th of January, the 89th anniversary of your movement, the African National Congress.
On this important day in our country's history and our national calendar, the National Executive Committee of the ANC conveys its best wishes to you all.
We are confident that this year, acting together, we will achieve new victories in the continuing struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country and the renaissance of our continent, Africa.
As you know, last year we said that we should observe this year, 2001, the first year of the 21st century, as the year of the commencement of the African Century.
Your movement, the African National Congress, has always been a movement for the liberation of all the peoples of Africa, including our own.
It has always seen itself as a fighter for the freedom and independence of all African countries and peoples. It has always waged struggle for the restoration of the human dignity of all Africans and the equality of all races and nations.
Loyal to that humane and patriotic tradition, the ANC is convinced that Africa's time has come.
The time has come that we launch a sustained offensive to wipe out poverty in our country and continent. Millions of our people are still condemned to suffer from hunger, from malnutrition and its diseases.
They are prey to deprivations that result in homelessness, inadequate clothing and lack of access to jobs and other ways and means by which they can secure an adequate standard of living.
Millions of our people are still condemned to lead miserable lives, to suffer from physical and mental ailments and to die young because of preventable diseases.
These include respiratory diseases, malaria, AIDS, cholera, tuberculosis, venereal diseases and others.
Once again, the ANC is convinced that we need to confront this situation with all the necessary determination, in a sustained struggle to translate the principle of the right of the people to health into reality.
Millions of our people continue to survive in conditions of illiteracy, non-innumeracy, poor education, ignorance and poor skills.
This exposes these masses to superstition and an inability to access especially the great store of scientific and technological knowledge that drives the evolution of modern society.
The ANC is convinced that this situation can and must be corrected. New steps will have to be taken to ensure that we move faster towards the realisation of the goal stated in the Freedom Charter, that the doors of learning and of culture shall be open for all!
Over the centuries, slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism have ravaged the African economy. This has guaranteed that generally throughout Africa, including South Africa, the material base for the provision of an adequate standard of living for the millions of our people has been very weak.
This situation has to be corrected by rebuilding Africa's economies to ensure that they are able to generate the necessary volumes of wealth, work for the people and the capacities that will ensure that we take our rightful place within the global economy.
In this context, we will have to ensure that we take full advantage of the possibilities provided by modern science and technology, including those achieved in the areas of biotechnology and information and communication.
As the peoples of Africa, we share a history that stretches from the very beginning of human existence. We have brought our own inputs into the ever-evolving organisation of human society. We have contributed to the common human experience enormous riches in culture and the arts.
As part of the African Renaissance, we must celebrate these contributions, which are both of universal relevance and also define our Africanness.
This we must do as an essential part of the continuing struggle for the assertion of the dignity of Africa's peoples and the reinforcement of their confidence in their own capacity to free themselves from a terrible and dehumanising past.
The African Century must also mean that our continent occupies its rightful place among the other continents, other peoples and nations. This challenge will have to be addressed within the context of the ongoing process of globalisation and the emerging system of global governance. We must strive to arrive at the situation in which Africa is no longer treated as marginal, if not irrelevant, to the determination of the future of humanity, an object of pity, the inevitable destination of charitable contributions.
The new world order that is being born must be defined, in part, by the fact that Africa and her people play an equal role with other people in shaping that new and more equitable global political, economic and social order.
The achievement of all these goals of the African Renaissance, of the African Century, requires that we transform ours into a Continent of democracy, respect for the human rights of all our people, peace and stability.
The people-centred society we seek to build throughout our Continent requires, among other things, that we should aim to ensure that every single African, regardless of age, gender, class, race, ethnicity or belief should live in conditions of freedom, dignity and absence of fear.
This means that we should end all dictatorship on our continent, ensuring that all our people exercise the right freely to determine their future.
We should create the conditions such that we banish violent conflict from our continent and end the tragic spectacle of millions of our people driven out of their countries as refugees or as displacees within their own countries.
Democracy, peace and stability are both a condition for the realisation of the goals of the African Century and will be one of the outstanding outcomes of our Century.
It was to ensure that all of us join in struggle to achieve all the objectives we have mentioned, that your organisation, the African National Congress, issued the clarion call that we turn the 21St Century, the first century of the 3rd millennium, into an African Century.
As you can see, these tasks have as much to do with the future of our own country, as they have to do with the other sister African countries.
In previous years, the common African agenda was defined by the fact that the bulk of our continent was under colonial domination. The continental struggles for independence constituted the cement that bonded the people of Africa into a mighty movement for the freedom of our peoples.
In the last quarter of the last century Africa united to confront the most stubborn legacy of colonialism on our continent, the system of apartheid in our country.
Being an insult to all people of our continent and a direct threat to their freedom, the struggle against apartheid came to be one of the fundamental factors defining the purposes of Africa's freedom.
The victory over the apartheid crime against humanity correctly became the central objective of the united efforts of the peoples of our continent.
We are now in our seventh year of our liberation, our people and continent having won an historic victory in 1994, when power passed into the hands of our people as a whole.
That brought to a close a period of five hundred years of colonialism and white minority rule in Africa.
As it ended, this opened the door to our continent to take the necessary additional and urgent steps to address the legacy of colonialism and racism and to build the better life for all that is due to the millions of the people of Africa.
In the short period of its existence as a free country, apart from what she has done for her own people, South Africa has also begun to make her own contribution, however small it might be, to the rebuilding of our continent as a whole.
Thus, as we begin the African Century, we must ensure that we unite in action both within our own country and throughout Africa, bringing together our resources and acting in solidarity to achieve Africa's Renaissance.
This means that, as a movement and country, we have both national and international tasks.
The January 8th message of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress to all our members, the broad democratic movement and our people as a whole seeks to focus on these tasks.
In particular the issue we have to address is the involvement of our branches and the masses of our people in a sustained people's offensive for the success of the African Century.
We have to organise ourselves to ensure that this century is a people's century. Accordingly, we can only succeed if the people themselves understand and accept that the African Century is a peoples' project and not a matter reserved for governments.
But before we come to our programme of action, we would like to congratulate all our members and the rest of the democratic movement for the way everybody responded to the call we made on January 8th last year, to ensure that we follow up our decisive victory in the general elections of 1999 with a similar decisive victory in the 2000 local government elections.
Your work in mobilising the people means that your movement has been chosen and mandated by the people to govern in 72% of our municipalities.
We also take this opportunity to thank the millions of our people who came out to vote to advance the project of the further democratisation of our country and to express their firm confidence in their movement, the ANC.
We repeat our commitment to these masses that we will make every effort to ensure that we continue to address their needs and concerns, in continuous pursuit of the goal of a better life for all.
We also salute the IEC for the excellent work it did to ensure the success of the elections, assisted by thousands of teachers and other public servants. We also salute all the parties and our people in general for ensuring that the elections were held in conditions of peace and were free and fair.
We also take this opportunity to congratulate the mayors and the councillors on their election. We would also like to remind them of the critical importance of the sphere of government of which they are in charge.
We draw their attention to the powers given to it actively to work to improve the lives of all our people, across the boundaries that had been created by the apartheid system.
Two matters in particular marred these positive developments.
One of these was the significantly large number of young people who did not participate in the local government elections. We have to address this matter to ensure that we overcome the tendency towards apathy and depoliticisation among our young people.
The second of these negative tendencies was our failure, once again, to draw larger numbers of people from the national minorities towards our movement.
Our commitment to a non-racial South Africa demands that we intensify our work among these communities to ensure that we draw them into the programmes in which we have to engage for the reconstruction and development of our country.
We also congratulate the thousands of our youth that successfully completed their matriculation.
We salute them, the principals, teachers and parents who all combined to ensure that we achieve better results than in the previous years.
We also thank all our branches and members who worked in their localities as required by our programme of action for the encouragement of the culture of learning, teaching and discipline in our schools.
This has also contributed to the achievement of the better results of which we have spoken.
The work done by our branches and members on the issue of AIDS, and which must continue, has highlighted the importance of the question of the health of the masses of our people.
It must therefore continue to preoccupy us as we continue to work for the realisation of the objective of a better life for all.
We also congratulate those of our members and branches that have been involved in mobilisation against crime, for the improvement of the safety and security of all our people, strengthening the community-police fora and enhancing the standing of the law enforcement agencies in all localities.
We are convinced that this will continue to contribute to our recovery from the years of lawlessness of the apartheid period, which spilled over into the epoch of democratic rule.
We would also like to thank the Human Rights Commission for the work it did to bring us together in a national conference to develop a common programme for the eradication of racism in our country and salute all those who participated in these processes.
This programme is, of course, also directly related to the similarly continuing struggle for the creation of a non-sexist society.
We have to build on the achievements of the National Conference against Racism to ensure that we advance steadily towards the goals of non-racism and non-sexism.
Both of these have been a fundamental feature of the policies of our movement for a long time and are now critical objectives contained in our country's constitution.
We also pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of our members who worked hard to ensure the growth and development of our structures, who made certain that our branches do not die and that they maintain dynamic contact with the people at the local level.
A firm base exists for us further to strengthen the movement to ensure that it is able to discharge its mission of leading the masses of our people in the continuing struggle for social transformation and African renewal.
In this context, the National Executive Committee would like to express its pride in and appreciation of the National General Council held in Port Elizabeth last June.
Marked by unity and a high quality of debate, the NGC both confirmed the decisions of our 50th National Conference and clearly pointed the way forward for the period up to our 51st National Conference next year.
Accordingly, one of the tasks we face as a movement is to ensure that we implement the decisions arrived at during this important National General Council. We must also strive to capture the spirit of the Council in our daily work, of clarity of vision and loyalty to the movement and the cause of the people.
Let us now proceed to deal with the tasks ahead of us during this first year of the African Century.
For your movement, the ANC, to meet its challenges this year, a number of things must happen.
One of these is that we must ensure that we have strong and functioning branches of the ANC, the ANC Youth League and the ANC Women's League.
We have to focus on this task with all necessary determination and not be patient with those who, for any reason whatsoever, work to undermine our work in this important area.
We must implement the decision of the NGC and not hesitate to weed out opportunistic and self-seeking elements that have entered the movement merely to advance their personal interests.
That NGC issued a directive to all of us to build new cadres who are capable of assisting the movement to discharge its historic responsibilities. We must respond to this through a combination of political education, the involvement of our members in the movement's activities and in ensuring that all members report regularly to their organisational units, especially the branches.
The second task we have to accomplish is to ensure that our structures are in regular contact with the masses of our people. It is critically important that these structures enjoy the confidence of the people, that they are sensitive to the needs and feelings of the people and are able to respond quickly and correctly.
There can be no such thing as a good branch of the ANC that is cut off from the people. Contact with the masses of the people must therefore be an integral part of the regular work of all our branches, including those of the Leagues.
This contact with the masses of our people must also seek to involve them in activity directed at the reconstruction and development of our country so that they become, truly, their own liberators.
This means that we must have a clear and sustained programme of action, which our people must understand and support because it is directed at ensuring that they move further away from poverty and suffering towards a better quality of life.
The third task we have to accomplish is to ensure that the new structures of local government function properly, that they serve the people and that they do not allow for any corrupt practice.
The structures of the movement at the metropolitan, district and local levels have to assist to ensure that the councils function effectively and efficiently.
The movement will not allow that any of our structures, as has happened in the past, disrupt the work of the councils and councillors, as a result of the attempt by some of our own members to replace our sitting councillors for purely selfish reasons.
All our structures at the local level will have to assist to ensure that we succeed to meet our commitment to our people so to organise ourselves that our mayors and councillors keep regular contact with the people to report and be accountable to them.
It will be the task of our structures at the local level to ensure that this happens. These structures will also have to work among the people to ensure they, too, support the councillors they have elected, so that these are able to carry out their own functions.
To be able to carry out this mission properly, it will be necessary that the relevant organs of our movement are fully familiar with the programmes of the councils.
This will enable them to popularise these programmes among the people, help in their implementation and assist in ensuring that the councillors account regularly for problems experienced and progress achieved.
Our movement will also have to strengthen its relations with its allies, the SACP and COSATU as well as the organisations of the mass democratic movement.
The challenge to mobilise the masses of our people into action for the advancement of the objectives of the African Century requires that the progressive movement as a whole should be involved in this work.
Accordingly, the ANC will have to play its role as the leader of this movement to engage all its elements to encourage them to focus on their fundamental mission of the progressive transformation of South Africa and Africa.
As a movement we will also have to strengthen our links with other progressive forces on our continent and the rest of the world.
The accomplishment of our task of the transformation of our country and continent will require the involvement and support of progressive forces throughout the world. It therefore belongs among the most important tasks of the international progressive movement.
This puts an obligation on us to organise this movement to act together with us to meet this task.
At the same time, we also have an obligation ourselves to act together with and as part of this international progressive movement, to address all other issues that have to do with the creation of a people-centred society, globally.
As a movement we have an obligation radically to improve our communication with the masses of our people, with the rest of Africa and the international community.
It is clear that those opposed to our programme of social transformation are determined to sustain a campaign of misinformation aimed at denying the progress we have and will achieve, at discrediting us as a movement for people-centred change and plunging the people into paralysis born of disillusionment.
This requires that we organise ourselves to conduct our own campaign to inform the people at home and abroad, and to defeat the political and ideological offensive aimed at strengthening the positions of right wing forces.
Accordingly, this year we will have to pay particular attention to the strengthening of our communication capacity and actually improve the access of our people to our information, our views and our programmes.
We have already spelt out our political, social and organisational tasks whose pursuit will ensure that we respond properly to the challenge of launching the peoples' offensive for success of the African Century.
However, we also have other sectoral tasks that we have to accomplish this year. Our aim must be to reach and mobilise into action as many of our people as possible.
We will now turn to these tasks.
The government will begin in earnest to implement both its multi-sectoral:
integrated and sustainable rural development strategy; and, its urban renewal strategy.
In this context, we will have to ensure that the system of governance ensures that all three spheres of government cooperate very closely in the implementation of these programmes.
The task of our movement's structures in this regard will be to gain a full understanding of these programmes as they impact on particular localities so that they are able to mobilise the people to participate in their implementation.
This will be of particular relevance to our branches, zones and regions.
The aim of our intervention as a movement must be the activation of the people so that they themselves work as conscious agents for reconstruction and development.
We will also have to mobilise particularly community-based organisations to be involved in this important and exciting work.
The NGC drew our attention to the importance of ensuring that our population as a whole is educated and armed with the right skills. We must therefore intensify our work in this area this year.
We must make the necessary interventions at all levels of education, to encourage the culture of learning, teaching and discipline as well as interest in and study of mathematics, science, technology and engineering.
We will also have to ensure that we involve teachers' unions, education NGO's and organisations of the mass democratic movement in this work.
We will also have to pay continued attention to the issue of the education of the masses of our people on health questions. We have to respond to the urgent need for the strengthening of our system of primary health care.
This entails not only building clinics in areas, which previously had no health care facilities. It also entails raising the consciousness of our people about various issues such as safe sex, clean water, nutrition and cleanliness in general, so that we reduce the incidence of various diseases, including STD's, tuberculosis, cholera and AIDS.
The further improvement in the quality of life of all our people requires that we continue to do our work to reduce the levels of crime and violence in our country, including criminal violence against women and children.
The reality of the matter is that this negative phenomenon is largely concentrated in poor, black, working class areas. It is therefore precisely in these areas that we should carry out the most extensive and sustained mass mobilisation against crime and violence.
We must work to get the people themselves involved in ensuring safety and security in their families and neighbourhoods.
We must, in particular, integrate this work within the urban renewal strategy and again seek to involve not only our structures but also all other relevant community-based organisations.
This year we will be hosting the United Nations World Conference on Racism. The Conference will bring many people from everywhere in the world to our country. They will come with the expectation that as a country, we will make a meaningful contribution to the outcome of the Conference.
Accordingly, we have an obligation and the possibility once more to focus on this issue, utilising the results we achieved at our own national conference last year. In our situation, this must also include the important question of the struggle against sexism.
All the structures of our movement will therefore have to reach out to the masses of our people to involve them in the further deepening of our national response against both racism and sexism.
This work should enable us to interact better and more extensively with people drawn from our national minorities to encourage them to be involved themselves in a common offensive to create a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.
Once again, we will have to do our best to encourage other organisational formations to be involved in this work, genuinely to achieve national mobilisation and to be able to present as united a national point of view as possible at the UN Conference.
We should also use all our campaigns, including the latter, to improve the level of organisation of the Women's League and the progressive women's movement in general as well as the mobilisation of the masses of women.
These millions of our people, together with the rest of our society, have to be mobilised correctly to identify the tasks that have to be carried out to promote the emancipation of women and to act to ensure that these tasks are pursued.
This year we will also be marking the 25th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. National Youth Day this year will therefore assume especial significance.
The fact of this anniversary should help us to pay particular attention to the task of raising the level of political consciousness among our youth. This is an urgent and important task.
The Youth League, supported by the rest of our movement, will have to pay particular attention to this matter.
Innovative ways will have to be found to ensure that they youth get engaged in their own development and the development of society in general.
Apathy and a carefree attitude in this sector of our population means that the next generation that will take charge of the country will be motivated largely by self-centred objectives, with little sense of the larger objective of the creation of a caring and people-centred society.
The country and our people as a whole cannot afford this outcome. To avoid it means that we must intensify our work among the youth without ignoring and being insensitive to their youthfulness.
We must also bear in mind that the apathy we have observed is also an outcome of the democratic victory. This success has created the assurance among the youth that they do not have to do anything as the government and society have an obligation and are committed to address their needs and aspirations.
In the past we have spoken of the need for us as a country to work for "the RDP of the soul" and for the emergence of a new patriotism.
The need to work for these outcomes has not diminished but has strengthened, if we are to have an African Century one of whose products must be a new African man and woman.
The movement will therefore have to attend to this work seriously, working with other formations, to ensure the spiritual emancipation and elevation of all our people, in conditions of the sustained improvement in their material conditions of life.
As a movement, we expect that this year our government will adopt new measures aimed at giving further impetus to the growth and expansion of the economy, the creation of more job opportunities and further strengthening the material base for the provision of a better life for all.
However, these objectives cannot be achieved by the government working alone. The private sector must also be fully involved, from large to medium, small and micro enterprises.
We also need to achieve concerted efforts between organised labour and organised employers in all sectors. The Millennium Labour Council can play an important role in this regard.
On the occasion of this 89th anniversary of the ANC we therefore call on the business community and labour to respond strongly and positively to the economic challenges we face as a country and a people. We are convinced that there are many opportunities waiting to be exploited.
We will have to act to increase the levels of investment in our economy, to raise efficiency, productivity and skills levels, to de-racialise the off1ces and the shop-floor and to ensure that we increase our international competitiveness.
At the same time, business will have to act consistently to ensure that the rights of the workers are fully respected. The situation should never be repeated which resulted in the death of workers in the Lenasia chemical factory: the circumstances must end that have led to persistent violence against farm workers.
We can no longer afford the hesitation we have experienced among some business people in the past with regard to raising our growth levels and the adoption of a wait-and-see attitude, driven by false and unfounded pessimism.
During the past year, we have also experienced instances of some groups of workers acting in a manner that did a disservice to their cause, however justified.
This has included the use of violence against other workers, thrashing of streets, inducing workers to lose their jobs and blocking of diversion of resources to uses that would directly improve the lives of the ordinary people.
We would like to emphasise that the ANC counts on the progressive trade union movement of our country as one of the principal motive forces for the victory of the African Century.
We are committed to work in a strong alliance with this movement and its principal federation, COSATU. But, as before, this must continue to be a principled alliance.
It must act in a manner that adds further impetus to the progressive social transformation of our country and continent and is not driven merely by narrow and immediate interests.
The ANC will therefore continue to work closely with COSATU to identify areas of common action, especially as these relate to the mobilisation of the masses of the workers themselves to be involved in a vigorous, people driven process of reconstruction and development.
With regard to our continent as a whole, our government will have to intensify its work to make its own contribution to the strengthening of the continental movement for reconstruction and development.
This work must be driven by the two fundamental principles that as Africans we share a common destiny, and that mutual solidarity among ourselves is a necessary condition for our common success.
As a movement we will also work to strengthen our links with other progressive forces on our continent. Together with them, we will have to work on a programme of action focused on the promotion of the objectives of the African Renaissance.
In this work we should both draw in other mass and popular organisations as well as aim to ensure that the masses of the peoples of our continent themselves engage in struggle rather than wait for somebody else to bring about the change they yearn for.
As we prepare for the 90th anniversary of our movement and enter into the first year of the African Century, we extend our solidarity to the PLO and the people of Palestine.
We remain committed to stand side by side with them as well as the genuine peace forces in Israel to help find a just solution leading to the independence of Palestine, the security of Israel and peace throughout the Middle East.
We also urge a speedy resolution of the question of Western Sahara, to ensure that no African people are denied their right to self-determination.
We also call for an end to all violent conflicts and wars on our continent, an end to military rule the guarantee of the freedom of all the peoples on our continent in all our countries.
It is the responsibility of the progressive movement on our continent to mobilise the masses of our people themselves to act to further the continental struggle for democracy, peace, stability and people-centred development.
To bring about the African Renaissance during this African Century requires that these masses continue to be their own liberators. As genuine vanguard movements of the people it is our task to go out and ensure that these masses are indeed mobilised to act in unity and to unite in action.
The NGC issued the call for us to use our structures, especially the branches, to reach out to the people to reactivate them as the principal motive force for progressive change.
To recognise, appreciate and encourage the work done by these basic units, the NGC directed that we should institute a system of awards that would be given to the best performing branches of the ANC and the Leagues as well as the local government councils.
The National Executive Committee is therefore pleased that the very first winners of these awards, based on work done last year, are:
The Sol Plaatje Award, conferred on the best performing ANC branches, goes to:
Galeshewe, Branch 2, and Jane Furse.
The Charlotte Maxeke Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Women's League branches, goes to:
The Anton Lembede Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branches, goes to:
Kwa-Mandlenkosi branch in Beaufort West.
The Z.K. Matthews Award, conferred on the best performing ANC local government councillors, goes to:
the Durban Metropolitan councillors; the Zastron District councillors; and, the Ngwaritsi-Makhuduthamaga municipal councillors.
The National Executive Committee congratulates the comrades who have won these prestigious awards that are named after some of the most outstanding heroes and heroines of our struggle.
We call on them to continue with their good work and urge all other comrades throughout our movement to emulate them.
We also take this opportunity to lower our banners in memory of outstanding South Africans who passed away during this past year.
These include Alfred Nzo, I.C. Meer, Steve Segale, Caleb Motshabi, Fred Carneson, Dr Diliza Mji (Senior), Parks Mankahlana, Solly Maseko, Bheki Mkhize, Kate Zuma, Gora Ebrahim, Mbongo Fihli, Ntemi Piliso, Simon Mahlathini Nkabinde, Khaya Majola, Ray Ntlokwana, Margaret Mcingana, Professor Peteni, Mary Benson, Nomayisi Hani and others.
To all of them we say rest in peace. What you did for the nation will never be forgotten.
To assist us to focus on the tasks we have given ourselves, the National Executive Committee of the ANC hereby proclaims this as:
The Year of the African Century - for Democracy, Peace and Development!
Amandla! Matla! Matimba!