National General Council
Political report of the President of the ANC Jacob Zuma
20 September 2010
Deputy President Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe,
ANC Officials and Members of the National Executive Committee,
Our Alliance partners and other representatives of the mass democratic movement,
Members of the diplomatic corps and other observers;
Traditional leaders and religious leaders,
Comrades and friends,
We meet five years since the watershed National General Council held in 2005 in Pretoria in Tshwane.
The African National Congress during that time, had to choose between two options -to fight to retain its historical character and task, or to abandon its history as a liberation movement and become a modern political part with new values, given the ever changing material conditions.
As customary, discussion documents were introduced in preparation of that NGC including among others, the organisational design of the ANC, renewal and unity and the implementation of the mandate through government.
As usual and as expected, the debates among the structures in the branches of the ANC in particular were as open, robust and vibrant.
However, the levels of discontent between the membership and leadership of the movement, had reached an unprecedented point. This was precipitated by decisions taken by the leadership, which the membership strongly disagreed with.
The debates and discussions that took place then became explosive as branches defended their rights and authority, which they felt had been eroded and undermined by the leadership.
It was at that NGC that the branches sang a song boldly and loudly, “Amandla Asemasebeni”. They demanded that the leadership should never take the role of branches for granted.
Consequently, that NGC did not just become a mid-term review as prescribed by the ANC Constitution. It became a platform by branches to express their unhappiness of the erosion of internal democracy within the movement.
It served as a reminder of the importance of branches in the movement and that they must never abdicate their responsibility even during the most difficult and trying times.
It also served as a reminder to the leadership that we are elected by the membership and that is where our loyalty and trust should lie at all material times. It underscored too, that branches must also have faith in the leadership, and that the leadership must never betray this faith and loyalty.
THE NATIONAL POLICY CONFERENCE
A National Policy Conference was subsequently held in July 2007 to prepare for the 52nd National Conference of the ANC.
Policy recommendations adopted by that conference were an affirmation by branches to the leadership, that branches are central in the formulation of policy in the ANC. This conference also re-affirmed unity as the basic requirement and non-negotiable principle in the African National Congress.
Some of the policy recommendations adopted included that the ANC President shall be the candidate of the movement for President of the Republic. It was also resolved that the prerogative of the President of the ANC to appoint Premiers and Executive Mayors should be exercised after consultation with the leadership of the organization.
This was an attempt by the membership of the ANC to deepen unity and strengthen the internal democracy of the movement, as well as to correctly interpret the principle of a prerogative, which in the view of the membership had been misinterpreted.
The conference therefore, was an embodiment of the real challenges that our movement had experienced for a sustained period of time.
This week, as we gather to take stock and chart the way forward towards the centenary of this glorious movement, we reaffirm that indeed the final power lies with the branches of the ANC. This was one of the most tangible achievements of the 2005 NGC as well as the policy and national conferences of the year 2007.
THE POLOKWANE CONFERENCE AND THE AFTERMATH
Today we are able to say that having emerged from that trying period, the ANC has reached a level of stability that did not seem possible two years ago, and it is moving towards becoming a stronger and a more effective organization as we head towards the centenary, on 8 January 2012.
This is due to the fact that the branches decided to deal with the problems head on, to save the organization from becoming something unknown. Therefore, the 2005 NGC and the Polokwane conference stand in history as one of the watershed moments in the history of the ANC, with far reaching consequences for the movement and the country.
Given that the tense atmosphere that had characterized the 2005 NGC, had continued right through to Polokwane, and the leadership contestation and anger of the membership had created deep divisions within the ANC, it is to the credit of ANC branches that we emerged from Polokwane as a united and solid organization and a strong centre of power in South African politics.
We emphasised then, and repeat today, that the Polokwane conference was never one of victors and losers. It was a conference where branches set out to re-assert their authority and power and to reclaim the organization, and all members had a responsibility to respect the will of the branches, as the supreme and basic unit of our organisation.
The organization that emerged from Polokwane certainly needed healing and renewal, and the leadership was mandated to work intensively to unite the membership of the ANC, regardless of who their leadership preferences had been in that heated conference.
In the January 8, 2008 statement we appealed for cohesion and unity between the ANC leadership and its senior cadres deployed in government, to ensure that the mandate that the electorate had given the ANC could be carried out in harmony and efficiently. We were only too aware that the existence of two centres of leadership had a potential to cause tensions if not managed carefully.
A successful programme of action was undertaken immediately after Polokwane to visit provinces to strengthen ANC structures, as well as to address infighting, dysfunctionality, factionalism and other problems that had arisen leading up to the Polokwane conference.
While 2008 was a highly successful year with regards to rebuilding and renewing the organization on the ground, the management of relations between the organization and its government became cumbersome.
Communication between cadres deployed in government and the ANC leadership, became poor and this did not help the situation. The movement was also still dealing with the court case that had been brought against the President of the ANC at the time, which also caused tension between the ANC and some cadres deployed in government.
Towards the end of 2008, the organization had to confront the reality that relations with its foremost deployee in government, the President of the Republic, had broken down irretrievably.
After many hours of deliberations in September 2008, the NEC took a decision to recall Comrade Thabo Mbeki from his position as President of the Republic. This was one of the most difficult political decisions the organization had to take.
However, it was necessary for the sake of unity and progress within the movement and between the organization and its government. Thanks to the skilful management of the implementation of this decision, the change in government proceeded smoothly. We once again acknowledge the response of Comrade Mbeki, who accepted the decision of the organization with dignity and agreed to step down.
Reacting to this decision, some ANC cadres that the ANC had deployed in government as ministers and deputy ministers as well as two premiers, resigned from their positions. This action exposed that these cadres were more loyal to an individual than to the organization.
The ANC deployed the Deputy President, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe as President of the Republic, to help the country through the transition and ensure continuity in government. We thank Comrade Motlanthe for leading government and the country well through that transitional period. He later accepted deployment as Deputy President of the Republic after the 2009 elections.
The events of 2007 to 2009 showed the huge capacity of the ANC to stand as a custodian and guarantor of democracy in the country. The country remained stable and unshaken even though major decisions had been taken. This demonstrates that the ANC has its own effective internal democracy which is guaranteed by its own members and branches of the ANC.
We thank South Africans for their patience and faith in the ANC. While this appeared to be a difficult moment for the ANC, the South African people remarkably went about their business normally, knowing that the organization would resolve whatever matters needed to be resolved.
You will remember as well that later in 2008, some members of the ANC who were angry and unhappy about the outcome of the conference in Polokwane, and also with the changes in the leadership of government, left the organisation amid huge pomp and drama, and formed their own organization.
The media and commentators started saying the ANC should prepare to sit on the opposition benches in Parliament. They truly believed that this was the end of the ANC. And indeed, it did sound like there was a massive onslaught against the people`s movement because of the fanfare. However, to borrow from Shakespeare, it was a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!
We want to commend the membership of the ANC. We visited all provinces in October and November 2008 in a massive mobilization campaign to explain to our people, what this change in the balance of forces meant and they understood very well. They stood firm and defended their organization.
At this point our preparations began for the 2009 election campaign.
THE 2009 GENERAL ELECTIONS
Research had been conducted about government performance, and the 15 year review provided information on what had worked and what needed to be corrected. With that background information, the ANC went to the people seeking their participation in the drafting of the election Manifesto, under the highly interactive campaign: “My ANC, My Vision, My Future”.
This supported the intensive listening campaigns run by the President and the leadership around the country. Our election Manifesto united our people around a common programme, centred on our five key priorities -creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods, rural development, land and agrarian reform, education, health and the fight against crime and corruption.
Supported actively by the Alliance partners, COSATU and the SACP plus SANCO and other structures of the mass democratic movement, the ANC fought a formidable, visible and very memorable election campaign.
We commend all structures of the movement for putting up such a good fight to defend, consolidate and advance the programme of the ANC. The Women`s League, Youth League, our Alliance partners COSATU, SACP with also the support of SANCO, proved that the ANC would rule this country for a very long time to come. We extend our gratitude to various civil society formations that provided support, or came to listen to what we had to say because they believe that the ANC has the interest of the country at heart. These included religious leaders, traditional leaders, business, professionals, minority groups and a host of others.
We must single out the youth of our country for being an active part of the democratic process. The vibrancy of the ANC Youth League campaign captured the imagination of young people, many accepting the ANC as their political home, declaring that the ANC “rocks” and that it is “cool” to be part of the ANC!
Our campaign also attracted performing artists – from actors to musicians as well as soccer legends. This is the power of the ANC – able to unite South Africans from all walks of life. This was an ANC in control and a movement of the people which knew where it was going.
The ANC was returned to government with a landslide majority, once again proving that this organisation remains the home of the majority of the people of this country.
ORGANISATIONAL RENEWAL – TOWARDS THE CENTENARY IN 2012
We have indeed done well in the past two years to heal and rebuild the organization. However, the branches of the ANC at this NGC must assist the organization to stay focused on this mission, and to eradicate some worrying tendencies before they become entrenched in the organization.
As the leadership we are already engaged yet again, in an intensive organizational renewal drive. As part of the preparations for the Centenary, we have visited a number of provinces as part of the Imvuselelo renewal campaign. We will visit the outstanding provinces after this NGC.
The campaign is not just about recruitment and increasing numbers. It is about building an ANC cadre who is loyal to the organization and who understands the mission, principles, character and traditions of the movement as well as the responsibility of an ANC member, all of which are sometimes taken for granted.
It is also aimed at reminding members and potential members that the ANC was formed in 1912 under the clarion call of unity – Mzulu/Mxhosa/Msuthu hlanganani. The ANC also stands for the unity of all the people of our country, as stipulated in the Freedom Charter, which says that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
It was for this reason that Comrade President Nelson Mandela, in a message of support which he sent from prison in 1985, to the ANC Kabwe conference, said that: “Unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded”.
The discussion document of this NGC entitled “Leadership, Renewal, Discipline and Organisational Culture”, outlines some of the problems we have to confront in order to strengthen the ANC and keep it focused on its historical mission. The political and organisational reports presented at the Polokwane conference also raised these challenges. The various Provincial General Councils have also dealt with these issues.
We also have spent a substantial amount of time in meetings of the NEC over the past two years to deal with these problems. Some have subsided; others need further work.
We say “amandla asemasebeni” and that we must take the ANC back to the branches. We must therefore ensure that these branches have genuine members. Our audit and verification of membership procedures are intended to ensure that only branches in good standing determine the policy and leadership direction of the organisation.
In some instances this is not the case. Some branches contain members who belong to other members. That means some members of the ANC influence other members to support them for their own personal interests, and by so doing make these members loyal to them and not to the organisation.
Another tendency is the abuse of lobbying, which has been a long standing democratic practice within the movement. It traditionally takes the form of informing branch delegates about the characteristics of a person or persons that must be considered for leadership.
It cannot and should not take the form of an instruction on who to vote for, and thereby creating a culture of despising the will of the ANC branch members in good standing, in the manner that the “slate” method is doing. This certainly corrupts the democratic processes of the ANC.
We have also had forms of lobbying which includes smear campaigns in the media as well as gossip and rumour-mongering about one another.
A new dangerous method of lobbying has emerged, where comrades use money to buy support. We should not allow a situation where those who have money turn members of the ANC into commodities. Kudlalwa ngabantu ngoba bezihluphekela.
We are also concerned about labeling and other divisive tendencies that are also creeping in. For example, we have always said the ANC is a broad church but suddenly, there are now people who are said to be about “anti-communists” and others who are “anti-nationalists”.
We are also alarmed by members of the ANC who continue to attack others publicly or comment on organizational issues publicly without any mandate or authority to do so. If they do not attack others directly, they use innuendos or insinuations.
A decision was taken in May this year by the NEC, banning all public spats as well as the discussion of the 2012 succession and related leadership preferences. This was done in order to strengthen unity, prevent confusion and to avoid undermining the confidence of the membership in the leadership that has been elected to lead this organization until the next conference.
Mobilising and lobbying for succession so early also gives a wrong impression that the ANC comprises of groups of people who are pre-occupied with fighting for influential positions to advance personal interests instead of advancing the programme of the organization.
It is clear that the time has come for the organization to act. We must take a decision that those who engage in such activities are in fact undermining the organization and its work, and at worst, are undermining the unity of the organization. Action must be taken against them.
Already, a decision has been taken that those who take the organization to court, before the exhaustion of organizational processes, should be summarily suspended before any considerations.
We have no choice but to re-introduce revolutionary discipline in the ANC. If we fail to do so, we would be weakening the very fibre and existence of the ANC. In the passage of time, all liberation movements face such a test and have to deal with all sorts of opportunistic tendencies. The organizations that fail to deal with such tendencies and tests vanish. We cannot allow that to happen to the ANC.
Going forward in building the organization to withstand such pressures, we must do all we can to renew and strengthen the ANC and all its structures, including the Leagues. In the context of social mobilization and the need to organise all motive forces behind the vision of the ANC, the ANC in its wisdom established the ANC Youth League, Women`s League and Veteran`s League.
Historically, both the Youth League and the Women`s League have played an important role in the life of the African National Congress, and their role remains relevant and crucial, as we construct a new society envisaged by the Freedom Charter today.
The ANC Constitution clearly describes this relationship of the ANC with its own Leagues. The Leagues are established to function as autonomous bodies which are an integral part of the ANC. Politically and organisationally, the Leagues are structures of the ANC, and are subject to ANC discipline. The ANC is not in alliance with its own Leagues, nor are the Leagues alliance partners of the African National Congress. They are structures of the organization.
We must do everything we can as the ANC, to help the Leagues to carry out their organisational responsibilities and mandate, because if they succeed as they should, the ANC will be stronger.
We have noted some regrettable incidents, particularly relating to ANC Youth League conferences, which are unacceptable and need to be dealt with. The leadership will work with the ANC Youth League intensively after this NGC, to deal with these organizational challenges and to strengthen it, so that it can perform its role as the grooming school for future ANC leadership.
We must also support the League as it drives the agenda of youth political, social and economic development. A key achievement for the Youth League last year includes the establishment of the National Youth Development Agency, which is now building its structures nationally, so that it can put youth development on the national agenda.
The Women`s League has functioned well since its national conference. The League must accelerate work on the challenges facing women as directed by the Polokwane conference, especially relating to the feminization of poverty and the impact of all government policies on women. The resolution to consider the establishment of a Women`s Ministry was implemented last year.
In another important development, the ANC established the Veteran`s League last year and it had a successful inaugural conference. This was done to create a space for our stalwarts to continue to play a role in the life of the organization.
The Polokwane conference took a resolution that we should provide proper support to our former Mkhonto Wesizwe combatants and oversee the proper functioning of MK Military Veterans Association at all levels. In this regard, the Department of Military Veterans has been established within the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans to cater for the needs of these cadres and other veterans.
Strengthening the Alliance
The post-Polokwane renewal had to include rebuilding relations between the ANC and its Alliance partners as well. As we moved towards Polokwane in 2007 the relations with the Tripartite Alliance partners were frosty and difficult. The situation has changed considerably for the better.
The Alliance was formed out of struggle, and out of the shared vision as articulated in the Freedom Charter. It is based on the understanding that each Alliance component enjoys political independence from the other, but also acknowledges the central role of the ANC as the leader of the Alliance and the political centre.
We reaffirm what President Oliver Tambo said on the occasion to mark the 60th Anniversary of the SACP, 30 years ago, when he said:
“The relationship between the ANC and the SACP is not an accident of history, nor is it a natural and inevitable development. For, as we can see, similar relationships have not emerged in the course of liberation struggles in other parts of Africa… Ours is not merely a paper Alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our Alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences”.
There are no components of the Alliance that can be wished away or be replaced by others. All fulfill aspects that have been proven over the long history of the Alliance.
We must emphasise as well that the Alliance is not based on conformity and monolithic interpretation of events. It is a strategic Alliance. We must avoid a temptation to change the historical character and purpose of the Alliance, regardless of challenges we face today as a sector, group or individuals.
Each Alliance component partner has a political responsibility to guard against tendencies that threaten the unity of the Alliance. The Alliance is a unique political entity, and none of us must celebrate when it faces challenges. All the bold headlines about the imminent death of the Alliance are a waste of time and ink because the Alliance will live for a long time to come. However, there are challenges that must be dealt with.
The recent strike by public servants requires serious introspection from individual Alliance partners, and the Alliance collectively. As the ANC we affirm the right of workers to strike as enshrined in the Constitution and we will always protect and defend that right. In the Manifesto of the ANC, we stated our commitment to improve the working conditions of public servants.
The ANC government remains committed to realise these provisions in the ANC Manifesto and will gradually implement this crucial aspect.
We have taken a decision to engage Cosatu after this NGC, not only to evaluate the recent strike, but also to remind one another of the role of the Alliance, who we are as components and what we stand for. We would not want to pre-empt these discussions, however, it would be wrong if we do not talk about some of the things that have characterised the recent strike, which are alien to the history of worker`s struggle and the congress movement, and also to deal with the serious distortion of the history, mission and character of the ANC that we witnessed during the strike.
Some of the statements made by striking workers and some in the leadership of the federation suggested that the ANC had abandoned the struggle of the workers and poor in this country. The ANC has always fought on the side of the workers and will continue to do so. As far as we are concerned there is no ambiguity about our being in Alliance with COSATU given that history.
There is also a new tendency to re-define the Alliance relationship as if it was based on some legal agreement or memorandum of understanding. Comrade Tambo`s articulation is therefore useful: “Ours is not merely a paper Alliance, created at conference tables and formalised through the signing of documents and representing only an agreement of leaders. Our Alliance is a living organism that has grown out of struggle. We have built it out of our separate and common experiences”.
Therefore, to reduce a historical Alliance which was built through sweat and blood into an electoral pact is to miss the point with regards to the significance of this Alliance. It is important comrades that we should not play around with this Alliance.
Let us restate some basic principles. The right to strike must never be used to undermine the rights of other people. We must win over people to join the strike out of political consciousness and sympathy, and not through violence, intimidation and destruction of property.
We will discuss these and other matters with COSATU when we meet. Suffice to say that the bold headlines about the imminent death of the Alliance are grossly exaggerated. It will live for a long time to come.
We thank all the volunteers who gave their time to alleviate pressure and suffering during the public sector strike.
To conclude this organizational renewal part, I would like us to remember five basic principles which have guided all generations of the movement. The tried and tested principles are simple but are fundamental to the life and health of our organization.
These are that:
- An individual must always respect and obey the collective decisions of the ANC.
- The minority should accept that the majority prevails. It is an important basic democratic principle.
- Juniors must respect their seniors. Those who belong to junior structures must respect those serving in senior structures.
- The entire organisation must respect and abide by the decisions of the leadership committees, be it NEC or PEC.
- The leadership must always respect the membership of the organisation.
We go into the detail of these issues in the cadres forum during imvuselelo.
Many who disregarded these principles and values left the ANC and either tried to form or formed their own organizations. Such organizations do not survive because they are not based on the principles that the ANC was formed for.
GOVERNANCE AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ANC MANIFESTO
This NGC is also about reviewing progress in the implementation of our resolutions and policies.
After a review of the performance of government in the 15 years in office, it became clear that we needed to improve the functioning of the state machinery to improve the quality and the speed of service delivery.
A primary intervention was to change the way government was structured. After the 2009 elections we reconfigured government departments to improve their performance.
The ANC government also established the National Planning Commission as well as a performance monitoring and evaluation department in the Presidency to promote improved performance of government. These had been identified as critical interventions that were required.
Substantial work has been done by the ANC government to deliver on the priorities.
Creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods
The Freedom Charter states that the people shall share in the country`s wealth. Sixteen years into our democracy, while we have made substantial progress, we have not yet achieved true economic transformation, which should include fundamentally changing the structure of the economy and the distribution of wealth and income in our society. .
To deal with the inequalities, poverty and unemployment, we are building a strong mixed economy, where the state, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way, to achieve shared economic growth.
We have to achieve higher levels of economic growth and ensure that such growth benefits all of society, especially the poor.
We have to take note of the global environment we are operating in to achieve these economic goals. The NGC takes place at a time when the world is undergoing rapid change, in which old certainties are disappearing, new trends are emerging but new opportunities also present themselves to us, if we are bold enough to seize them.
I wish to point to a few key trends that we identified in our current work on a new growth path which will be finalized after this NGC by government, enriched by the inputs of ANC branch delegates in the commissions.
The first trend is the shift of economic dynamism and growth from the old developed economies to the new developing economies. There are fresh opportunities for South Africa, and indeed the continent, to achieve our own developmental goals through new partnerships that become possible.
In this context, the recently-signed Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between China and South Africa is an important signal. Similar opportunities are available with India, Brazil, Russia and other developing countries.
The second trend is the importance of the African continent to our own economic future. The continent is a market of one billion consumers. It is also an enormous source of raw materials that need to be beneficiated locally to create jobs and to ensure a modern industrial economy on the continent.
The third is the serious challenge of climate change. There is compelling scientific evidence that we are damaging the very future of humanity by the high-emission economies that grew in the 19th and 20th centuries.
As we continue to build our coal based energy resource, we need to simultaneously build the foundations for renewable energy as our contribution to responding to climate change.
There are enormous opportunities in the new green economy that we need to take advantage of. We need to position our economy to shift and create the hundreds of thousands of green jobs that are capable of being created locally.
The fourth trend relates to the new technologies that will increasingly reshape our world, including bio-technology. These can become important sources of economic development and creation of decent work opportunities.
Finally, the global economy has not emerged fully from the economic crisis that started with the financial meltdown of September 2008. But its impact across the world has not been uniform and a new trend emerged. On the one hand we see very limited economic growth in most developed economies. Yet on the other hand, we see strong and robust growth in large parts of the African continent, Asia and Latin America.
But more importantly, the economic crisis has created a challenge for orthodox, one-size-fits-all policies. Developmental states have managed the crisis better than many in the old economies who followed rigid formulas. This creates space for South Africa to begin to develop policies suited to our circumstances, our needs and our people.
Going forward, the principle of creating decent work opportunities must be put into practice through the establishment of this new growth path for our country that we are talking about.
The new growth path must start with the recognition that on the one hand, we have had economic growth for a sustained period since the advent of democracy, with particularly high growth since the early 2000s and net job creation.
On the other hand, poverty remains high, inequalities have remained the same or even grown worse, while some of the jobs created often brought low wages and poor conditions.
Moreover, the economic downturn saw the loss of over a million jobs in our country; and job losses were continuing in the first six months of this year despite the return of economic growth. This has worsened what is an unacceptable situation of high rates of joblessness among our people.
These developments point to the core importance of redirecting and transforming economic growth, in order to bring about greater equity based above all on the creation of decent employment.
At the same time, we recognise that profound shifts in the global economy bring not only risks, but also opportunities. These include the rise of new economic giants in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe, fast economic growth on the African continent and the emergence of new technologies on a mass scale, as well as the recognition that global warming requires all of us to redesign our economies.
All these open the door to new opportunities and ultimately to prospects for more equitable growth.
Our research shows that our economy has the potential to create employment on the necessary scale – through the plans for a large-scale expansion in infrastructure; in mining, agriculture; in the services; construction, tourism; in the new economy areas such as the green economy and knowledge-based sectors; rural development, African regional development; and through the social economy and the public sector.
The challenge is to take advantage of this potential. But we should acknowledge that this cannot be done easily or overnight.
Critically, it has to be achieved in a way that sustains growth but transforms the quality of that growth so that we ensure that both the benefits and costs of change, are fairly spread, in ways that protect the poor and bring about a more equitable and just society.
The economic transformation discussion document presents proposals that this NGC should look at, to assist us to finalise a growth path that involves major changes in the way we work.
The anticipated measures include appropriate fiscal and monetary policy measures that are actively directed to promoting larger number of jobs. These should be linked with measures to control inflation and improve efficiency across the economy, including through a more competitive and stable exchange rate.
They must also involve targeted measures to improve the performance of the economy in a number of areas, such as rural development, strengthening industrial and trade policies, education and skills, small business and cooperatives promotion, strengthened competition policies, African regional development and labour market measures.
We also need to work strengthening the role of state-owned enterprises and ensuring that, whilst remaining financially viable, SOEs, agencies and utilities – as well as companies in which the state has significant shareholding – respond to a clearly defined public mandate and act in terms of our overarching industrial policy and economic transformation objectives. We established a Presidential review committee recently to undertake this work.
We must also address the position of vulnerable workers, and other key areas that would strengthen both equity and growth.
Also critical is the need to strengthen social dialogue to ensure broad consensus on the key priorities. We also need to mobilise our people around core initiatives and identify what all of us can contribute to achieve the national vision founded on the broad mandate we received at Polokwane, and as directed by the ANC Manifesto.
The new growth path will not be achieved by government alone. It requires the participation, effort and enthusiasm of all of us.
Government has been awaiting this NGC to take place, to be followed by a special Cabinet meeting that will discuss and finalise this growth path, given the importance and urgency for the country.
Fighting crime and corruption
The revamping of the criminal justice system is proceeding well.
The crime statistics released recently indicate that progress is being made in the fight against crime. We commend the police for achieving quite a significant decline in the murder rate and other serious crimes.
Our recent personnel investment through appointing more than 40 000 new police officers during the 2010 Soccer World Cup will certainly yield results, and so will the investment in equipment and security infrastructure.
We reiterate the call for ANC branches to provide support to law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime, including establishing and strengthening street committees.
We must eradicate corruption as well as perceptions of corruption.
A Cabinet Inter-Ministerial Committee has been established to coordinate government efforts to fight corruption. The IMC works with institutions such as the Public Protector, Auditor General, and the Special Investigating Unit to coordinate efforts.
Government has also established an Anti-Corruption Task Team led by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations, known as the Hawks, to coordinate investigations and prosecutions.
The areas identified as priority for scrutiny in government generally are supply chain management, identity theft, social grants system and electronic fraud. In August this year, we directed the Special Investigating Unit to investigate supply chain related concerns in seven government departments nationally as well as in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.
Various preventative policy measures can be explored. These include the centralization of major contracts and procurement of major items, stricter penalties for service providers who obtain contracts illegally, to increase transparency and accountability in the tender processes, as well as to improve the protection of whistleblowers.
We must also implement the provisions in our election Manifesto which states that politicians should not tamper with the adjudication of tenders. Basically, we must not allow tenders to destroy the ANC.
Relative progress has been registered in the fight against this scourge.
Extensive work has been done in the health sector informed by the ANC`s ten point plan which has been adopted by government. Amongst priorities for implementation currently is the improvement of physical infrastructure such as hospitals and clinics.
The ANC government must continue to improve work to ensure cleaner hospitals and clinics, faster service and shorter waiting periods, the availability of medicines and patient care. Extensive work has been done to boost the campaign against the spread and the impact of HIV through prevention, treatment and support.
A massive HIV testing campaign is proceeding successfully. ANC branches should encourage members to test and know their status. The confidentiality of this process should be emphasized to members in order to promote participation.
The ANC must also lead campaigns to fight the stigma that is attached to HIV and AIDS, and ANC branches should be visible in providing care and support to affected families. Work is continuing to fight tuberculosis and malaria, as well as arrest maternal and infant deaths. The National Health Insurance policy development process is proceeding well.
Education is our apex priority and for that reason we decided to split this portfolio into two, basic education and higher education and training.
On basic education, working with the unions in the education sector, we have to make it a reality in every school for teachers to be in school, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day.
The ANC government continues to strive to deliver on the basics, such as providing the workbooks on time, and the necessary support to educators and school governing bodies. We have to bridge the gap between schools in historically disadvantaged areas and in historically white areas, in terms of facilities and teaching.
The environment in our schools also needs further attention. We have to work with the schools to promote respect for teachers by learners and vice versa. Discipline and respect in the classroom will ensure effective teaching and learning.
Government is also attending to issues of safety and substance abuse in our schools to protect our children. Further work is required to ensure access to education in line with the Millennium Development Goals. According to the recent Statistics SA general household survey, 200 000 children between the ages of seven and 15 are not in school for various reasons, mostly poverty. Most of these children are in the farming areas in the Western Cape, and must be reached and provided this opportunity to access education.
The promotion of access to higher education for all students including the poor, as well as skills development in general is a critical part of the ANC government`s human resource development strategy. This priority is being given the necessary attention.
Rural Development and land reform
At the Polokwane conference, concerns were raised about weaknesses in the land restitution process and rural development generally. The ANC government responded to the concerns of ANC branches by splitting rural development and agriculture.
A Comprehensive Rural Development Programme has been put in place and a pilot programme has been rolled out in eight Provinces.
Current approaches to land reform have not been moving as fast as desirable. The willing-seller, willing-buyer approach to land acquisition had constrained the pace and efficiency of land reform. The land reform policies undertaken by government are meant to deal with this problem.
Our target is to redistribute thirty percent of agricultural land before 2014, accompanied by support programmes the rural poor, farm workers, farm-dwellers and small farmers, especially women.
This new sharp focus on rural development and land reform should be able to provide the results required by the election Manifesto and conference resolutions.
The ANC study into the state of local government indicated that a lot needs to be corrected to improve service delivery.
Among the matters that must be attended to, is the problematic relationship between municipal officials, elected representatives and political parties. We reiterate the view that senior municipal officials should not hold fulltime leadership positions in political parties, as this causes tensions that hinder service delivery.
We commend all the hardworking councilors who are the first port of call in communities. Moving forward to the 2011 elections, drawing from experience we should ensure that our deployment procedures enable us to produce more highly committed, effective and disciplined cadres to help us improve service delivery in this sphere.
To succeed in transforming local government, the ANC must continue to be part of the lives and experiences of our people. The fundamental principle is that we must remain truthful to our people at all times, even when we have not met their expectations. We must tell them the difficulties we come across including the reality that resources are not limitless.
Last year, we experienced protests in various areas in the country, which were said to be linked to service delivery. These protests were also accompanied by unacceptable activities such as violence and destruction of property. While we appreciate the frustration and impatience, it is puzzling why people burn a clinic to demonstrate to government that they need a school.
We have criss-crossed the country in recent months to engage our people. If they are informed, they understand and work with us to find solutions. Therefore, ANC structures must not allow a gap to develop between them and the people.
We contribute to the promotion of a better Africa and a better world. Our main goal in implementing the ANC Manifesto is the creation of an environment conducive for economic growth and development.
South Africa remains seized with a number of priority programmes of the African Union such as building continental unity, strengthening regional economic communities, infrastructure development, health promotion especially maternal and child health as well as peace and stability. We have revived party to party relations with former liberation movements especially in the SADC region, as directed by the national conference.
The Secretary General meets with his counterparts regularly, taking forward the cooperation between the respective movements. A Presidential Summit was held in Tanzania in May this year and reaffirmed the importance of constant engagement amongst these historic formations. We look forward to a key role by these movements when we celebrate the ANC centenary in 2012.
The ANC continues to strengthen South-to-South Cooperation, both politically and economically, through platforms such as IBSA and the China-Africa forum.
We continue to advance African Union-European relations, as well as relations with between Africa and Asia, Caricom and other regions.
We work with like-minded countries to promote support for the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The ANC also continues to support the self-determination efforts of the Western Sahara, under the leadership of POLISARIO to ensure the liberation of the last colony on the African continent.
We continue to pledge our support to the Cubans in their campaign to end the economic blockade against their country.
We support the quest for a solution to the Israeli- Palestine question and back the two-State solution. We participate in the G20, World Trade Organisation and other forums as part of promoting a new world order.
The ANC as the oldest liberation movement in the continent is expected to play a key role on matters impacting on the continent and the developing world. We will not shy away from playing this role, as part of advancing the African agenda.
PROMOTING THE SOCIAL AND POLITICAL HEGEMONY OF THE ANC
The ANC has always been an inclusive organization, drawing to its ranks all who share its desire to achieve the society outlined in the Freedom Charter, a South Africa belonging to all who live in it, united in their diversity.
We have spent the last two years since conference engaging various sectors of society to unite our people around the common vision of a united, prosperous, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa, free of poverty and deprivation.
In the true character of the non-racial and unifying nature of the ANC, we have met minority groupings such as the HIP Alliance (Hellenic, Italian, Portuguese communities) as well as Afrikaner communities.
To promote a shared growth path, we have engaged organized business, while we engaged the religious sector, traditional leaders and healers on our social development agenda.
We also take this unity message to opposition parties represented in parliament whom we meet to discuss issues that can be regarded as being in the national interest, which should not cause polarization amongst us.
We must also build on the unity, cohesion and patriotism that was on display during the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. South Africans displayed deep-seated love for their country, its symbols and their national soccer team and welcomed the world with open arms.
We were able to showcase all that is positive about our country – that we are a nation that can keep its undertakings, which has sophisticated infrastructure as well as excellent organizational and project management skills. We also showcased possibilities in our criminal justice system as the performance of the police, courts, intelligence community and others indicated we have the capability to deal with crime decisively.
Most importantly, we gained a reputation as a highly efficient, hospitable and friendly people in the world. We must now use that expertise and experience to improve the delivery of services to our people.
We once again congratulate the South African people for helping us to deal with the stereotype that nothing good can come out of Africa, and also for proving that South Africa is indeed a winning nation. Most importantly, we congratulate the ANC for working so hard for 98 years, so that South Africa can be free and be able to host the world in this greatest sports spectacle of all time.
We will take the promotion of unity, success and cohesion forward on Heritage Day when we gather at Moses Mabhida stadium to celebrate the World Cup and everything that unites and defines the South African people.
The next biggest African celebration of all time will be the centenary of the ANC, to be celebrated in Mangaung on the 8th of January 2012. It will bring together Africa and the world, as the history of this movement has always been internationalist in character.
I took the opportunity while attending the African Union summit in Ethiopia recently to invite all African Heads of State to join us when we celebrate, as we did for the World Cup. All ANC branches must start preparing in earnest for this historic celebration.
As we commence with the business of this NGC, each and everyone of us here, must vow to make the ANC more stronger when we leave, than it was when we started this meeting.
Every delegate here must contribute in the discussions about policies so that the ANC can govern more effectively and better.
Millions of South Africans have their hopes on this NGC, in order to improve their lives. We dare not fail them.