Compatriots and Comrades,
Today, on January 8th, we observe and celebrate the 91st Anniversary of our movement, the African National Congress. This day also marks the beginning of the decade that will lead us to the centenary of our movement on January 8th, 2012.
As we begin the momentous journey of ten years to the 100th birthday of the people`s movement, we convey our greetings and best wishes to you all, to the peoples of our continent and the world.
Already, as we met at the 51st National Conference at the University of Stellenbosch last month, we made the clarion call to all our members and all patriots that we should Advance in Unity to the Year 2012! It is in that spirit that we address the country on this important day, the 91st birthday of the ANC.
During this past historic year, the year of our 90th anniversary, we laid an excellent base for our further advance towards the realisation of our objective of the fundamental transformation of our country and continent. We salute our cadres, members and all other patriots for everything they did to ensure that we observe and celebrate the 90th anniversary of the people`s movement in a fitting manner.
We Salute the Volunteers.
We salute the cadres and patriots who responded in such an inspiring manner to the call to observe our 90th Anniversary as the Year of the Volunteer for Reconstruction and Development. By the work they did to help change the lives of our people for the better, they gave further impetus to the task we face, to ensure that the people continue to act as the builders of their own future.
During the year of our 90th Anniversary, we also held two important and highly successful conferences. One of these was the National Policy Conference and the other was the 51st National Conference. We must thank all our leaders at all levels, as well as our membership as a whole, for everything they did to ensure that these great gatherings during the Year of the Volunteer place our movement in a better position to carry out its historic mission.
Tribute to the Deceased.
But during this past year, we also lost some of our best leaders and cadres, comrades who sacrificed everything to build our movement and advance the people`s cause. Among these are comrades Rusty Bernstein, Steve Tshwete, Peter Mokaba, Wolfie Kodesh, Curnick Ndlovu, Peter Mthembu, Justice `Gizenga` Mpanza, Japhet Ndlovu, Zibuse Zuma, Vusi Mzimela, Sipho Maseko, Mary Mxadana, John Magagula, Mzingisi Skweyiya, Pinky Ntsangane, Sindile Khondlo, Shiraz Ibrahim, Nyambose Mthethwa, and Nokhanime Thomas.
We pay homage to these outstanding representatives of our movement and people. On this important day in our history, we must re-commit ourselves to honour their memory by further intensifying the offensive for the reconstruction and development of our country and continent.
Our Strategic Goal.
Once more, the 51st National Conference determined that our current strategic goal is the reconstruction and development of our country, for the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid. It indicated the tasks we have to accomplish to reach this strategic goal.
Central to these tasks and our strategic goal, is the realisation of the objective of the eradication of poverty. When our people attained their freedom in 1994, they inherited a country with millions of people afflicted by poverty. These masses had fought both for their emancipation from oppression and their liberation from poverty and want.
The realisation of this second goal required and requires that we transform our country through a focused programme for reconstruction and development. Given the depth of the problem we inherited, created over a number of centuries by the system of colonialism and apartheid, it is clear that it will take time and a united national effort to eradicate poverty in our country.
With the eradication of poverty as our urgent task, we must, at the same time, advance continuously towards the social transformation of our country, through a concerted programme for reconstruction and development.
Among other things, the Stellenbosch Declaration adopted by the 51st National Conference said: "Recognising that these efforts (directed at reconstruction and development) cannot bear fruit if carried out by government and the ANC alone, Conference reiterated the position of the ANC to build strong links with community organisations, trade unions, religious bodies, business organisations, women and youth structures as well as other organisations to ensure that, in actual practice, South Africans act as their own liberators."
This is a call for the mobilisation and strengthening of a broad front for reconstruction and development, which must act together to achieve our strategic goal. The 51st National Conference went on to say that this broad front should Advance in Unity to 2012!
The Struggle against Poverty.
To give effect to these Conference decisions, the National Executive Committee has decided that this year, the first in the decade leading to 2012, we should pay particular attention to the struggle against poverty. This must entail both a detailed and integrated programme of action against poverty, and the building and activation of the broad front for reconstruction and development visualised by the 51st National Conference.
Having begun the decade to 2012 in this manner, we must ensure that we sustain our programmes during the entire decade. During each one of the years of the decade, we will determine particular tasks for the year, consistent with the strategic objective of the reconstruction and development of our country, for the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
Economic Growth and Equity.
To advance in the struggle against poverty, while we transform our country into a truly non-racial, non-sexist, egalitarian and prosperous democracy, requires that we address a number of challenges. Let us now mention some of these.
We must ensure that our economy achieves higher rates of growth than we have been able to achieve since 1994. Among other things, this will require increased levels of investment by both the public and sectors. For the public sector, this must includecial investment. Employment-creation must be one of the central objectives of this growing economy.
We must ensure proper preparation of the Growth and Development Summit, so that it produces concrete results and consolidates the social partnership for reconstruction and development.
We must improve our performance with regard to the growth and development of small and medium business, in both rural and urban areas. Among other things, we must pay special attention to the challenges of black access to land and its use for productipurposes.
We must ensure that we reduce the number of unemployable people, by intensifying our campaign to raise the skills level among the masses of our people. In this regard, we must attend to the proper functioning and effectiveness of such programmes as thmsobomvu Fund and the Sector Education and Training Authorities.
We must significantly increase the scale and impact of the community-based public works programme, ensuring that it absorbs larger numbers of those who are unemployed.
We must radically improve the effectiveness and extend the outreach of our micro-credit programmes to improve the capacity of people at the grassroots level to engage in productive economic activities. We must also pay serious attention to the issue ohe development of a cooperative sector of the economy, to enable the people to combine their resources and efforts to engage in economic activities that will benefit the largest numbers of our people.
We must use the state budget to improve the quality of life of especially the poor, while contributing to the expansion of the economy. Among other things, we must ensure the proper functioning of our social welfare system and effective use of povertyleviation funds.
We must ensure the success of such existing initiatives as the Integrated and Sustainable Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programmes.
We must complete our work on the Economic Transformation Charter and, on this basis, accelerate our advance with regard to the goal of black economic empowerment.
We must increase the effectiveness of our system of integrated/comprehensive community health care, understanding the interconnection between poverty, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and hygiene, and health.
We must ensure that the state machinery functions properly and carries out its tasks effectively and efficiently. To bring this machinery closer to the people, and improve its responsiveness to the needs of the people, we will have to develop a cadre civil servants who work with the masses directly at the grassroots level as community development workers, on a daily basis. We must also intensify our offensive against corruption within the public sector.
We must ensure that we mobilise the masses of our people and all social strata to work in partnership with our government to carry out this programme, and reaffirm the practices of vuk`uzenzele and letsema. It is in this context that we should build tbroad front for reconstruction and development. It is also in this context that we should further expand the movement of Volunteers for Reconstruction and Development.
We are able to set ourselves these challenging goals because of the progress we have made to lay the foundations for an accelerated advance towards the achievement of our goals of reconstruction and development. An important part of those foundations are the policy decisions adopted by the 51st National Conference. Accordingly, as a movement, we cannot say that we do not know what to do to meet the goals we have already detailed.
People`s Power in Action.
One of the mottoes of the 51st National Conference was - People`s Power in Action! The task facing us is to translate into reality. We will do this by ensuring that people`s power represented by our government, elected by the people of South Africa, and people`s power, represented by the masses of the people we lead, combine to accelerate the process of the transformation of our country.
Our cadres and all structures of our movement must therefore gear themselves to ensure that we mobilise people`s power at both the state and the mass levels. To emphasise our seriousness with regard with regard to this, the 51st National Conference addressed the issue of cadres of the movement working within the system of governance.
Specifically, it said: "The NEC should review the functioning of current structures to provide political direction to cadres deployed in all spheres of governance and to ensure accountability. There must be a mechanism to review and evaluate the performance of deployed ANC cadres."
Naturally, the need to give political direction, evaluate performance and ensure accountability also applies to all our cadres involved in mass work. The NEC will therefore take the necessary steps to ensure that the movement carries out this work effectively.
Explain the Stellenbosch decisions.
The 51st National Conference has answered the question - what is to be done! Our first task as a movement is to ensure that all our members and structures are very familiar at least with the major elements of the Stellenbosch decisions. They need this information so that they can determine the practical tasks they have to carry out.
We must therefore ensure that by the end of this month, all our branches have the necessary briefing document explaining the outcome of the National Conference. That document should serve our members as a guide to action. For their part, the Branch Executive Committees will have to convene branch general meetings to ensure that all our members are familiar with the decisions taken by their movement.
We must also take these decisions to the people. The masses of our people need to know what their movement decided when it met at the University of Stellenbosch. Our Branch Executive Committees are best placed to communicate this information to the people. The BEC`s should therefore organise public meetings in the areas in which they are based, to communicate the Stellenbosch decisions directly to the people.
We must also ensure that we communicate these decisions to our Allies, the mass democratic movement, other organisations that represent the masses of our people, community based and non-governmental organisations and all other formations that need to play a role within the broad front for reconstruction and development.
Once more, a special obligation will fall on our branches and the executive committees to ensure that they reach out to all these formations at the grassroots level. It is critically important that the activists of these formations have a clear view of what our movement has decided. This will establish a strong base for us to enter into joint action at the local level with these organisations, to intensify our struggle against poverty and promote the process of reconstruction and development.
Adopt a Programme of Action.
The next important task our movement faces is that our comrades deployed in government should work to translate the decisions of the 51st National Conference into a practical government programme of action.
Because of the excellent manner in which we used people`s power at the government level radically to improve the management and use of public resources, today, more than at any other time, we are in a better position to respond to the challenges of reconstruction and development.
Again because of the excellent manner in which we used people`s power at the government level to create better possibilities for economic development, today, more than at any other time, our economy is well placed to achieve higher rates of growth and development, generating the additional wealth we need to improve the quality of life of all our people.
In addition, we have used people`s power at the government level to transform the state machinery so that it is better placed to discharge the obligations of a developmental state. Consequently, this machinery is today, more than at any other time, in a better position to help us ensure the realisation of the goals we have mentioned, which are focused on the achievement of the goal of a better life for all.
These important achievements should enable our government to respond to the Stellenbosch decisions of our movement in a manner that will enable our country to take an important step forward in the continuing struggle for its fundamental social transformation.
Build a Cadre of Community Development Workers.
We hope that our government will take up the challenge of establishing within the public service a cadre of community development workers who will work directly with the people. These special public servants will have to be trained so that they are able to assist the people the tackle the immediate problems they face. Thus they should be able to assist the people to tackle a whole variety of questions, including those relating to health, welfare, agricultural development, economic activity, education and training, safety and security.
Like our movement, our government will also have to communicate its programme of action to the country as a whole, to create the possibility for all our people and their organised formations to enter into partnership with their government, for the implementation of this programme of action.
Once more, our movement will have to engage our government`s programme of action to ensure that we activate all our structures and mobilise the people so that they do, indeed, act in partnership with their government and reinforce their role as their own liberators from poverty and underdevelopment.
Pay attention to Local Government.
In this context, we must pay particular attention to the sphere of local government. Once again, the 51st National Conference has spelt out the tasks we have to achieve. We must relate these to the tasks that we will set through our government. The challenge we face is that this sphere of government fulfils its function as the immediate point of service to the people of our system of governance as a whole.
Our Regional Executive Committees will have to pay particular attention to the continuous training and development of our mayors and municipal councillors to ensure that they are empowered to carry out their responsibilities. In this regard, our REC`s will have to mobilise all resources and support available within their regions to assist in the accomplishment of this goal.
The REC`s will also have to work to ensure that all the municipalities within their regions have the necessary Integrated Development Programmes (IDP`s) to guide their work, which must be focused on the achievement of the goals we have mentioned.
Again, the REC`s will have to ensure that these IDP`s are known and accepted by the communities towards which they are directed. At the same time, they must mobilise these communities to participate in the implementation of these development programmes. Our movement as a whole must assist our representatives within the system of local government to build the necessary effective administration for the implementation of the development programmes of the municipalities.
Our REC`s will also have to work consistently to create the possibility for the community development workers to succeed in their important work. Of importance in this regard, is the need for the masses of our people to cooperate with the community development workers, whose task will be to ensure that the people`s government responds correctly to the needs of the masses that elected it.
The REC`s will also have to ensure that the system of ward committees functions properly and effectively. Not only should the councillors convene meetings regularly. We must also mobilise the people to attend these meetings, and ensure that the ward residents are informed of the proceedings and outcomes of these meetings.
Of particular importance, our REC`s will have to ensure that all our branches within their region remain vigilant and act firmly against the cancer of corruption. In this regard, our structures will have to maintain the closest contact with the people and their organisations, to create the possibility for united mass action against corruption.
Of course, the issue of corruption extends beyond local government. We must therefore further intensify the Campaign for Moral Regeneration. Of critical importance in this regard is the need for us not to approach this matter as merely requiring public lectures. What is needed is that we integrate this campaign into our daily activities. It must provide a guide as to what constitutes ethical behaviour in the various areas of human activity, thus taking the challenge to each and every South African in the context of their daily activities.
Among other things, this has a direct bearing on the work we are doing to create a New Cadre. This cadre should know what Moral Regeneration means to him and her in the context of their work as members of the ANC. This must be a cadre who respects the moral standards of our movement and fights against the negative tendencies that arise out of careerism. This cadre should oppose the resort to lies and fabrications by some people within the movement. Above all, this cadre must be driven by a selfless dedication to serve the people of our country.
Strengthen relations with SANCO.
In the context of our response to the challenges of local government, we must work to strengthen our relations and cooperation with the South African National Civics Organisation, SANCO. As we all know, this is a long-established mass organisation that played a distinguished role in the struggle to defeat the apartheid regime.
As an organisation of civic organisations, SANCO is focused on the improvement of the lives of our people at the local level. We share this objective with SANCO. At the same time SANCO is committed to the common perspective for the reconstruction and development. Our common history and our united vision with regard both to local development and social transformation constitute the basis of the strategic alliance between the ANC and SANCO.
We recognise the fact that in some areas of our country in the past, conflicts have developed between our two organisations. All our structures, from the national to the local, must work to address all issues that have led to this conflict. Among other things, the leadership of SANCO has undertaken that it will not allow their organisation to be used to fight the ANC. We too must ensure that the ANC is not used to fight SANCO.
We must work together with SANCO to achieve the goals we have already mentioned and to ensure that we realise the development goals that the masses of our people expect of us. At the same time, we must work together to mobilise these masses to participate in the development processes to strengthen the people-driven processes of change.
The Place and Role of Traditional Government.
The publication of the White Paper of Traditional Government has given us the opportunity to finalise the protracted discussions about the role and place of the institution of traditional leadership in our republican democracy. Our movement should make its own input into this important nation-wide discussion so that this matter is finalised once and for all.
We must proceed from the position that our movement respects this institution and recognises that it has a role to play in the advancement of the interests of our people within the context of a democratic setting. Our own structures should, at all times, work with the traditional leaders in a common effort to improve the lives of our people in the rural areas.
Batho pele! Engage the Unions!
The task to ensure that our government responds correctly to the challenge to help provide a better life for all requires that we build a public service committed to serve the people of South Africa.
Among other things, this will require that our movement engages all public sector unions, to join hands with them in the advancement of the goals of reconstruction and development. This applies, in particular, to those unions that define themselves as part of the progressive movement led by the ANC.
We will therefore have to ensure that our movement at all levels strengthens its links with the trade unions in the common struggle to implement the reconstruction and development programme. This should help to mobilise the members of the unions to improve service delivery. In particular, our NEC, PEC`s and REC`s will have to attend to this matter.
Our government continues to experience serious problems with regard to meeting some of its obligations to the people with regard to social grants. In some instances, for example, elderly people do not receive their pensions as required by the law.
Improve service delivery.
As we succeed to identify greater numbers of the elderly, children and people with disabilities, who are entitled to social grants, the need will increase that we have an efficient public service that is sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society. This emphasises the need for us to strengthen our links with trade unionists within the public service to ensure that the public service lives up to the principles and practice of batho pele!
Our members and structures as well as our people as a whole continue to be committed to the task of improving the level of safety and security in our communities. Many of our members serve in Community-Police Forums. Last year, thousands of our members responded to the call to volunteer to assist the Police Service.
All this has helped greatly to eradicate the public mistrust of the police that had developed over time. Some of that mistrust arose from knowledge of police corruption by the general public. This remains a continuing challenge to which we must respond as we work to achieve the objective of safety and security for all.
Some of the members of the Police Service are members of trade unions. These members have a responsibility to join hands with the people to root out corruption within the Police Service. Similarly, these trade union members have an obligation to strengthen the links between the police and the people, to reduce the historic mistrust, and to ensure that the Community-Police Forums function well.
Our members and structures also have an obligation to reach out to these trade unionists to develop a partnership that will help to produce these results, and thus further accelerate movement forward towards safety and security for all our people. The intense campaign we all engaged in last year to oppose violence against women and children highlighted the importance of the issue of safety and security within the global context of our programme for reconstruction and development.
Poverty and Crime.
In this context, we must pay particular attention to the close relationship between extreme poverty and particular crimes. In particular, these relate to crimes of violence against the person, including rape, abuse of women and children, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, murder and substance abuse.
We must also bear in mind that the conditions of extreme poverty, also afflicted by these crimes, condition the young to carry out these crimes even as adults. All this requires that our movement as a whole add its weight to the effort to improve the life conditions of our people in these areas, and assist them to break free of the paradigm that places them in a position of social outcasts.
Current judicial investigations into our Correctional Services have also uncovered worrying levels of corruption within our prisons. This can only serve further to encourage those in our prisons still committed to crime, to continue their criminal activities. Some prison officials are and have been involved in the perpetration of these crimes.
And yet some prison officials are also members of trade unions, some of which have specifically committed themselves to the implementation of the reconstruction and development programme. Once again, our movement must engage these trade unionists at all levels to work with them to ensure the proper administration of our prisons and the elimination of corruption in our Correctional Service.
Relying on the improved system of accountability for our members deployed in government, we must also ensure that our members discharge their responsibilities with regard to the functioning of the system of governance. Through this, we must ensure that members of the ANC deployed in government treat this issue as a priority matter.
This should include members of the executive structures, the legislatures and the administration. Once more, the NEC, the PEC`s and the REC`s will have to ensure that our movement carries out the necessary oversight function over our members deployed in government.
Social grants must reach the people.
Our government views the system of social grants as an important part of our struggle to alleviate and eradicate poverty. Our movement has a responsibility to ensure that all those of our people who are entitled to receive these grants get what they are entitled to. In particular, we must bear in mind that those entitled to these grants are among the most vulnerable in our society.
During the process of the implementation of our Volunteer Campaign last year, one of the tasks we took on was to help to ensure that those of our people not registered to receive grants to which they are entitled, do receive these grants. Our members have already been involved in helping those entitled to receive the child support grant.
Our branches in particular must continue with this work through door-to-door visits to help those in need. This will include assisting those who do not have the necessary identity documents. In carrying out this work, we must work with the relevant government departments.
We must also ensure that what we do is consistent with all legal requirements. We must also guard against the abuse of the welfare system by those who submit fraudulent claims, as well as those within the public service who engage in theft and corrupt practice.
We must also ensure that we meet our obligations with regard to the delivery of free basic services. At the same time we should continuously learn from our mistakes and shortcomings in this regard so that we improve our performance. We should also ensure that the municipalities implement effective indigent policies.
Health for all.
Our movement long recognised the fact that good health is a fundamental requirement of a better quality of life. Many of our people are victim to diseases of poverty. To respond to this, we must adopt a comprehensive and balanced approach to the challenge of providing health for all, based on a more accurate understanding of the incidence of disease in our country.
What is clear however, is that our response must include a radical and sustained improvement of the socio-economic conditions of especially the poor in our country. This means that we should attend to such matters as nutrition, clean water, modern sanitation and hygiene.
Accordingly, as our branches and activists continue the awareness campaign with regard to AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, we must also raise the level of awareness of the people with regard to the other important matters relevant to the health of our people.
The community development workers we have spoken of, who include the community health workers, should play an important role in this regard, operating in a manner akin to what the Chinese once described as "barefoot doctors".
Engage the Economic Challenges.
The various economic initiatives we have already mentioned will also require our movement`s intervention, working together with our government. We should therefore avoid treating the work being done by our government, at all levels, as something separate from us.
Indeed, when our National General Council in 2000 called for the formation of a new cadre, it was out of recognition of the changed tasks of our movement. These arise from the fact that we have a responsibility to lead the process of the reconstruction and development of our country. Among other things, this means that our structures must develop the capacity to make a constructive input in terms of meeting the challenge of economic growth and development.
The Growth and Development Summit.
The forthcoming Growth and Development Summit (GDS) should mark an important departure point in terms of our continuing effort to give further impetus to the programme of economic development and reconstruction.
A critical feature of the GDS is that it should result in a firm agreement among the three social partners, the government, business and labour, on what should be done practically to improve the growth and development of our economy in a sustained manner.
This will require that the preparations for the GDS are handled in such a manner that the Summit produces real results. As a movement, we must therefore be clear about the outcomes we desire and expect. The NEC will therefore have to do the necessary work to elaborate our positions.
Proceeding from these positions, we will then have to engage the trade union federations, COSATU, NACTU, and FEDUSA to try and develop a common perspective with them concerning the outcomes of the GDS.
We should also engage the business organisations, NAFCOC, the Black Business Council, SACOB, the AHI and the South African Foundation, again to work towards the success of the GDS.
Of course, our government will also continue its own preparations, which include processes taking place in NEDLAC. Necessarily, our work as the movement will reinforce the efforts of our government. Once again, the joint effort of our government and movement will give real meaning to the slogan - people`s power in action!
Consistent with the decisions of our National Conference, we want to see the social partners acting together to achieve a number of objectives that are critical to our ability to address the goal of a better life for all. Building on our macro-economic and other achievements, the GDS must focus on improving our performance with regard to:
higher rates of investment;
a higher savings ratio;
acceleration of the human resource development programme;
black economic empowerment;
development of small, micro and medium business;
acceleration of the micro-economic reform programme;
correcting the race and gender imbalances;
further improving the international competitiveness of our economy; and,
projecting a positive image of our country.
We must engage both the trade unions and the business sector on these matters. We will also have to interact with the development community in general to ensure that it also plays a role in determining the economic development agenda and implementing what the GDS will decide.
Community based public works programme.
Working with our government, we will also have to assist to make certain that the expanded community-based public works programme achieves its objectives. This programme must focus on projects that are relevant to the development needs of our communities.
Among other things, this will require that we involve the people themselves in determining the necessary development projects. Obviously, we will also have to ensure that these projects are consistent with the local government Integrated Development Programmes.
Close attention will also have to be paid to the issue of the quality of the outcomes. The programme must involve especially the women and the youth. It must also involve the important element of raising the skills level of the workers employed in the programme.
We must also pay similar attention to related work being done in the context of our Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programmes, as well as the Local Economic Development projects initiated by the Department of Provincial and Local Government. We must pay particular attention to the success of the focused rural and urban programmes, given that they are targeted at the areas in our country with the highest incidence of poverty.
Develop the cooperative sector.
Our National Conference also paid particular attention to the issue of the development of a cooperative sector of our economy. Once again, we have to respond to this challenge vigorously. The important issue about this sector is that it will enable our people to pool their small savings and their skills to produce a sufficiently significant volume of resources to initiate meaningful economic activities.
The development of this sector should also help us to defeat the fraudulent pyramid schemes, which have resulted in many of our people losing the little they might have saved.
A lot of work will have to be done to educate our people about cooperatives, to convince them about the importance and viability, and to prepare them to run their cooperatives successfully. We will therefore have to prepare our members and structures to ensure that they are able to work with the people to assist them as they participate in developing the cooperative movement in our country. In this regard, a particular responsibility devolves on our REC`s to ensure that our movement meets its obligations to the people.
Black Economic Empowerment.
The 51st National Conference has also set us the important task of elaborating an Economic Transformation Charter to accelerate the process of black economic empowerment. The NEC and our government must work on this as a matter of urgency, guided by the movement`s approach to the fundamental issue of the deracialisation of our economy.
Fundamental to this is the requirement that this process should contribute both to the further growth of our economy and the improvement of the economic conditions of the greatest numbers of people possible. The Charter must therefore include an indication of the ways and means available to us to finance the programme of black economic empowerment.
Women`s Emancipation and Youth Development.
The various economic activities we have been discussing have particular relevance to the issues of the emancipation of women, youth development and the empowerment of people with disabilities. This includes the matter of human resource development. It is therefore necessary that as we work to ensure the success of these activities, we should measure our success in part by what we achieve with regard to these goals.
This emphasises the need for us to strengthen both the Youth and Women`s Leagues. We must ensure that the Leagues have the necessary capacity to contribute to the realisation of these objectives, understanding that this constitutes an important part of the work they have to do with regard to the tasks of the emancipation of women and youth empowerment and development. Similarly, we should strengthen our work with regard to the task of the empowerment of people with disabilities.
The Women`s League.
During this year, all our structures must pay particular attention to the strengthening of the Women`s League. In the first instance, we should focus on building the branches of the League and ensuring that they function properly and effectively. This should lead to the holding of the long-delayed National Congress of the League, which should place this important formation in a better position to discharge its responsibilities with regard to the central transformation task of the emancipation of women.
The Youth League.
At the same time, we should ensure that we have a clear programme targeted at the empowerment and development of the youth. This must include a sustained effort to raise the level of political consciousness among the youth, to ensure that we defeat the tendency towards the de-politicisation and demobilisation of the youth. We will not achieve this unless we have a strong Youth League that is in continuous contact with the masses of our youth.
Accordingly, our movement as a whole has a task to help build the Youth League into an even stronger formation than it is today. The League itself should constantly search for creative ways by which to increase its influence among the youth.
At the same time, it must be ready to learn from the youth themselves about the most effective ways and means by which we can ensure that the youth prepare themselves to be fitting successors to the generations that liberated our country and began the process of its reconstruction and development.
We take this opportunity to congratulate those among our youth who successfully graduated from Grade 12 in last year`s final examinations. By achieving significantly better results than those realised last year, the youth of our country have done the nation proud.
Another important feature of these results is that increased numbers of historically disadvantaged students joined the ranks of their white counter-parts in producing excellent results. Yet another is that the number of students, particularly from historically disadvantaged communities, who passed mathematics and natural science subjects very well, also increased. These results confirm the seriousness of our youth as they prepare themselves for the future.
A Broad Front for Reconstruction and Development.
As we have already indicated, the 51st National Conference gave our movement the task to build a broad front for reconstruction and development. We must therefore use our programme of action as a basis for the construction of this broad front. Our central objective must be to draw as many people and organised formations as possible into the active pursuit of the goals spelt out in this programme of action. Obviously, this should include the organisations of the mass democratic movement.
In this context, we do not visualise the constitution of a formal structure. Rather, what we should aim to achieve is unity in action in the struggle against poverty, for reconstruction and development. For this reason, we should both ensure that everybody concerned is familiar with our programme and is also informed properly and on time about specific actions we intend to undertake.
Once again, the NEC, the PEC`s and the REC`s will have to pay particular attention to this matter, ensuring that we reach out even to local, community based organisations. This will also help our branches and members to improve their contact with the masses of our people, placing them in a better position to respond quickly to the needs of the people.
It will also help us to encourage as many activists as possible to understand that their principal task is to participate in the reconstruction and development of our country, and not merely to see their role as being one of organising protest marches.
Our national government already includes people from four different political formations. These fellow South Africans serve in the national government on the basis of their commitment to the reconstruction and development of our country. We must continue further to deepen this cooperation in the interest of our country and people.
We say this despite the fact that in many instances, including at the national level, we have the necessary majority to govern on our own. Nevertheless, understanding our obligations to the masses of our people, we are determined to build the broadest front possible for the eradication of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid and the reconstruction and development of our country.
Strengthen the Alliance.
The tasks ahead of us emphasise the importance of further strengthening the Alliance headed by the ANC, which includes the SACP, COSATU and SANCO. The NEC, the PEC`s and the REC`s will have to take the necessary initiatives to ensure that we actually succeed to consolidate the Alliance and ensure that it acts together in unity.
We will also have to pay particular attention to the tasks of members of the ANC in the broad, mass organisations. These members have a duty to work as honest members of these organisations, while working to influence them to take up the challenge of reconstruction and development. This will make an important contribution to the efforts of the ANC to play the role expected of it, of leading both the Alliance and the broad front for reconstruction and development.
Strengthen the ANC.
The masses of our people are convinced that our movement is the only political force capable of leading them as they engage in struggle to address their aspirations. They rely on the people`s movement to maintain its loyalty to the people as it has done for nine decades.
They depend on our movement to ensure the transformation of our country so that we both succeed to eradicate poverty, and ensure the birth of a non-racial and non-sexist South Africa. Despite the fact that the legacy of racism and sexism continues stubbornly to define important elements of our national life, nevertheless the masses of our people are confident that we will succeed in our protracted struggle against racism.
They know that as their movement was able to solve complex problems of the struggle against white minority domination, so will it be able to solve the complex challenges we face as we work for the reconstruction and development of our country. All this puts an obligation on us to ensure that the ANC has the strength and capacity to meet this expectation.
Accordingly, we must proceed further to deepen the mass character as well as the capacity of the ANC to provide leadership to society as a whole. Inter alia, this requires the new cadres we are working to create, as well as branches that serve as political nerve centres of and catalysts for community reconstruction and development.
To meet this challenge, we have to develop an integrated cadre policy. This should include a human resource development programme and measures to ensure the reproduction of the culture and tradition of the movement amongst the new generations of cadres.
In this regard, steps will also have to be taken effectively to utilise the veterans of the ANC as a resource for the organisation. Branches should incorporate the veterans into their programmes and make them core educators on the ANC and the broad democratic movement, drawing on their wealth of experience.
We must also continue to pay particular attention to the strengthening of our branches, observing the guidelines for the constitution and functioning of our branches. Among other things, our branches must continue to act vigorously to defend our movement and its policies and to exclude from our ranks the opportunists and careerists who want to use the ANC as an instrument for personal advancement.
The recent period has also confirmed the necessity for our movement constantly to engage in ideological and political struggle to defend the movement and its policies, and to continue to set the agenda for development. All our structures must remain vigilant to repulse both rightwing reaction and ultra-left adventurism, whose policies are aimed at the defeat of the national democratic revolution.
Prepare for the 2004 Elections.
Our movement must also pay attention to the forthcoming 2004 general election. Our task is to ensure that once again, the masses of our people renew the mandate of our movement to lead our country as it goes through the process of reconstruction and development.
Among other things, we must resume our work of voter education and registration. We should also continue to encourage the people to obtain the necessary national identity documents. In their constituency work, MPs, MPLs and Councillors must also take on this task to make sure that, with regard to the 2004 elections, we reach as many of our people as possible, as early as possible.
Afrika ke nako!
The ANC occupies an honoured place as a member of the progressive forces of our continent. During this year we must continue to strengthen our relations with the rest of this progressive movement, to promote the goals of the African Union and NEPAD.
In this regard, it is important that both inside our country and throughout Africa, we continue our work to popularise both the AU and NEPAD among the masses of the people. In addition, and very important, we must mobilise the people and their popular organisations to participate in the effort to realise the objectives of these critical initiatives.
This year has great potential to register new advances in the process of the African Renaissance. The possibility exists to give fresh hope to the African masses that progress, however limited, is being made towards meeting the goal of a better life for all. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to turn this possibility into reality.
We look forward to the end of the conflicts in such African countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sudan and the Cote d`Ivoire. Progress also needs to be made finally to resolve the issue of Western Sahara. This year should also see the launching of the first NEPAD projects. At the same time, further progress will be made with regard to the formation of the necessary institutions of the AU, which will help the Union to become fully operational.
Last year our country and continent successfully hosted two important conferences, the launch of the AU and the World Summit for Sustainable Development. This year, our country and continent will host two sports tournaments. These are the ICC World Cricket Cup and the President`s Golf Tournament.
All these events indicate that gradually Africa is taking its rightful place among the nations. At the same time, this increases the challenge on all our countries and peoples to intensify the offensive for the renewal of our continent. Through our actions, we must give substance to our slogan - Afrika ke nako!
Our international obligations.
Furthermore, our movement must continue to meet its obligations in the rest of the world in keeping with its internationalist convictions and traditions. As before, the ANC will continue to act as a movement for national emancipation, a loyal force of the worldwide progressive movement for justice and equality, a front-rank combatant of the global struggle for genuine human progress.
Among other things, we must work for the vigorous implementation of the Johannesburg Action Plan adopted at the WSSD as well as a determined pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. This also requires that the world progressive forces succeed in their struggle for a democratic system of global governance, for the strengthening of the United Nations, against great power domination.
Important challenges face us to continue our opposition to terrorism, to seek a peaceful resolution of the question of Iraq, and to support the people of Palestine for peace and independence, as well as the security of Israel within secure borders. With regard to all these matters, we will have to act together with sister progressive organisations throughout the world.
In this regard, we will have to pay greater attention to our work within the Socialist International and increase our interaction with its fellow-member organisations. There is a clear need for the progressive voice to be heard more forcefully with regard to the burning issues of the day, including the critical question of the eradication of global poverty and ensuring that the process of globalisation does not result in the further marginalisation and impoverishment of the developing countries.
Push Back the Frontiers of Poverty.
This January 8th Statement contains the critical challenges that our movement places today, this year, before all our people, focusing in particular on the struggle to push back the frontiers of poverty. We remain steadfast in our belief that what we set out to accomplish ninety years ago, the building of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa, and the genuine emancipation of our continent, will be achieved.
We are proud of the achievements we have made in the past nine decades, and in particular in the past year. We are proud of the many cadres and structures of our movement that did outstanding work in communities to advance our struggle and change the lives of our people. Thanks to what this patriots did, acting together with the people, this year, three months from now, we shall usher in the tenth year of our freedom, leading us to the celebration of the first Decade of our Freedom on April 27th, 2004.
Salute to our Best Activists.
It is therefore appropriate that on this important day in our country`s history, we should honour those among us who have distinguished themselves in their service to our movement and people. Accordingly, we have the pleasure today to announce this year`s winners of our movement`s high awards.
The Sol Plaatjie Award conferred on the best performing ANC branch goes to Ben Tshipi Branch, Siyanda Region, Northern Cape.
The Charlotte Maxeke Award conferred on the best performing ANC Women`s League branch goes to the Albert Luthuli Branch, Greater Johannesburg, Gauteng Province.
The Anton Lembede Award conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branch goes to the Ivory Park Branch, Greater Johannesburg, Gauteng Province.
The Z.K. Mathews Award conferred on the best performing ANC local government Councillors goes to the Rustenburg Local Municipality, Bojanala Region, North West Province.
The National Executive Committee accordingly warmly congratulates the comrades that have won these distinguished awards. This outstanding achievement must serve to inspire others within the movement also to work diligently in executing the tasks of the movement and serving our people.
The critical lesson of these awards is that our structures must absorb the culture of emulation! More than anything else, this must result in improving the quality of our organisational and political output. Individually and col lectively, we must draw lessons from one another and basing ourselves on our achievements in pursuing the programme of action of the movement, we must all become role-models to one another.
United Action against Poverty.
As we advance in unity to the Year 2012, and to mark the first year of this decade to that glorious occasion, we are pleased to declare this, the YEAR OF UNITED ACTION TO PUSH BACK THE FRONTIERS OF POVERTY.
This message must resonate throughout our country, in every town and rural area, in every street corner, school, religious institution and sports field, everywhere our people gather and cross, in every household.
At this moment, to all our people in this country and throughout the African continent, the message is:
Afrika Ke Nako!
The Struggle Continues!
Advance in Unity to the Year 2012!
Victory to the united struggle against poverty and underdevelopment!
Forward with People`s Power in Action!
Long Live the African National Congress!
God Bless Africa.