South African’s National Liberation Movement

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51st National Conference

Conference Update 1

September 2002

Discussions on national conference underway across the country

Preparations for the 51st National Conference are on track, with the completion of close to 92 regional and sub-regional workshops throughout the country on the Conference discussion papers. These workshops brought together delegates from branches, the Leagues, Alliance structures and ANC public representatives (MPs, MPLs, councillors), to prepare to lead extensive discussions in branches on the issues before Conference.

Discussion documents have been produced on the Strategy and Tactics, the balance of forces and a number of policy-related issues. These are contained in Umrabulo 16, a special conference edition. Branches will discuss and adopt draft resolutions, which will be consolidated and discussed at the Provincial and National Policy Conferences.

The Electoral Commission appointed by the NEC held its first meeting on 4 September 2002 to decide on a work programme towards National Conference.

Members of the Commission are comrades Barbara Masekela (Chairperson), Raymond Mhlaba (Deputy Chairperson), Reginald September, Adelaide Tambo, Henry Makgothi, Essop Jassat, Brian Bunting, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, Josiah Jele, Yoliswa Modise and Gertrude Shope.


Logistical preparations for National Conference are going well, with national and provincial task teams working with the University of Stellenbosch – where the conference will be held – to ensure that the venue is properly prepared for conference. Various working groups are looking at accommodation, catering, transport, administration and information technology and communications.

The National Executive Committee (NEC) has adopted the Credentials, which determines who should be represented at Conference. There will be 3,400 voting delegates at conference. Of these, 90 percent – or 3,060 – will be branch delegates. There will be 72 delegates from the NEC, 162 delegates from Provincial Executive Committees, and 53 delegates each from the Women’s League and Youth League. In addition, there will be around 340 non-voting delegates, including cadres deployed in different sectors; around 140 observers from fraternal organisations; and 180 local and international guests.

An audit of branch membership is currently underway. Branch delegate spaces will be divided up among provinces and branches in proportion to their paid-up verified membership. This process should be completed by the end of September.


• 21/22 September: Provincial Policy Conferences
• 27 September: Special NEC Meeting
• 27-30 September: National Policy Conference

CONFERENCE UPDATE is produced by the Secretary General’s Office to keep structures informed of preparations for National Conference. This edition contains draft resolutions and documents not included in the special edition of Umrabulo.


Draft Resolution on Sports and Recreation


The Social Transformation Committee convened a national workshop on Sports and Recreation on 31 August 2002, and adopted a draft resolution on this matter for discussion in branches and at the policy conferences.


Preamble: Prior to the formation of the National Sports Council (NSC), sport in South Africa was an accurate reflection of the broader racial, economic and social divisions wrought by apartheid. The emergence of the NSC was a key factor in changing the face of South African sport as an integral part of the overall process of social transformation in the country.

It was a conscious political decision taken by the ANC to ensure that sport would be embraced in the country as a vehicle of change. The gains made from the isolation of apartheid South African sport were transferred into a powerful instrument to bring South African sports people together.

Under the guidance of the ANC, the NSC set in motion a process that would result in the disintegration of apartheid sport and lead to the formation of unified sports structures throughout the country. This marked the first time ever that South African sport could speak with a single voice.

It now remains a priority for this unity in sport to be consolidated through an ongoing process of transformation.


  • The ANC was charged in 1994 with the responsibility of transforming sport and recreation as part and parcel of the overall transformation of South African society;
  • That sport and recreation, as a national asset, remains an important vehicle through which to ensure a better life for all our people;
  • That sport and recreation can be a dynamic agent of change in our quest for social and economic change;
  • That the pace of transformation in sport and recreation often does not come up to expectation;
  • That with very few exceptions, South African and provincial teams fail to reflect the demographics of the country.

Further noting

  • The limitations placed on women, rural communities and people with disabilities with regard to participating in sport and recreation;
  • The centrality of school/youth sport in the sports continuum;
  • The tremendous backlog in the development of sports facilities in disadvantaged communities, especially facilities suited to the needs of the disabled and women;
  • The discrepancies still prevalent between disadvantaged and privileged communities in the provision of sport and recreation;
  • The need to facilitate the mobilisation of resources in both the public and private sectors to address inequalities and enhance participation in sport and recreation;
  • The need to build capacity and develop skills in the sports industry;
  • The need for good corporate governance in sport and recreation;
  • The need for a coordinated national sports plan to address the structural inequities resulting from the apartheid legacy;
  • The value of the media in the transformation and commercialisation of sport; • The evolving era of professionalism in sport and its rapid commercialisation;
  • The value of mass participation and the need for a well-coordinated and resourced programme of talent identification directed at high performance and competitiveness within the global arena;
  • The elements of racism and sexism that still remain prevalent in sport.



  • That the ANC must give the lead in sport and recreation policy;
  • That the policy of transformation in sport and recreation is an integral part of ANC policy on social transformation;
  • That sport and recreation have an important role to play in the fundamental social and economic transformation of our society;
  • That the country has a responsibility to develop the full potential of its youth in sport and recreation and to promote patriotism and a common South Africanism;
  • That sport and recreation policy must conform to the policies of the ANC;
  • That the ANC has a responsibility to transform sport and recreation to ensure good governance and to vigorously promote active lifestyles among all citizens.
Therefore resolves:
Organisational Tasks
  1. That an ANC Sports Desk must be the central focus of sport and recreation policy that will ensure access, equity, representivity, redress, accountability, transparency, integrity and fairness as well as the elimination of all forms of discrimination;
  2. That provincial, regional and branch structures as well as alliance partners ensure that policy monitoring mechanisms are put in place at their respective levels;
  3. That the ANC develops and adopts a Sports Transformation Charter;
Governance Tasks
  1. To ensure that a legislative/regulatory framework is put in place to give effect to policy initiatives;

  2. To facilitate the removal of obstacles that hinder the creation of a sports environment that reflects the demographics of a united South Africa, in particular to ensure meaningful opportunities for mass participation in sport, thus giving effect to achieving our national goals;

  3. To ensure that government continues to play a central and where necessary, interventionist role, ensuring that momentum is not lost in our continued quest for transformation of sport and recreation;

  4. To develop programmes and initiatives aimed at increasing the levels of youth participation in sport, thereby contributing towards the ongoing process of moral regeneration in our society;

  5. That government invests more in sport and recreation and actively seeks more private sector investment in sport;

  6. That government recognizes the contributions of sport and recreation towards economic growth and development;

  7. That government explores and promotes continental and international partnerships in sport and recreation; bearing in mind the rapid globalisation of the institution;

  8. That partnerships be pursued with the private sector in ensuring the sustainable growth and development of minor sport;

  9. To adopt mechanisms that will incentivise the media to ensure access to all South Africans to sporting events of national interest;

  10. That all tiers of governance actively cooperate in the pursuance of national goals, including the implementation of environmentally-sound practices for sport and recreation;

  11. That national government strengthens the policy of transparency and oversight in sport and recreation in a way consistent with its policies;

  12. To put in place a long-term events strategy aimed at hosting major international sports events in the country;

  13. To ensure support for government’s drive for good corporate governance in national federations and macro-bodies, including the rooting out of corruption in sport, the strengthening of regulations pertaining to anti-doping, gambling and gaming and the influencing of game results;

  14. To provide incentives to stimulate the growth of the sports industry and ensure the transformation of the commercial ownership and control of sport;

  15. That the Department of Education and Sport and Recreation South Africa jointly determine the placement and funding of school sport at both national and provincial level as a matter of urgency and that tertiary education sport be integrated into the strategy for mass participation and ultimately, high-performance sport.

Draft resolution on ANC policy and the collective moral force
Noting that:
    1. South Africa is being challenged by anti-social attitudes and attacks on her moral fibre, which requires the attention of every sector of society and every structure of the ANC, and not only the religious sector.

    2. That the movement for moral regeneration must be seen in the broader context of the values that we seek to build as a democratic and caring society.

    3. That from its beginnings ANC policy was driven by a strong ideological motivation. A collective moral force ran through the organisations from the 1880s; drove the formation of the Native National Congress in 1912 and the many years of the ANC, which followed; and was spelt out in the Freedom Charter in 1955.

    4. That the struggle was anchored in this collective moral force, being political, economic, social and spiritual. People approached the struggle from the moral and spiritual base of the great ideological foundations of humanity; rooted in vision, commitment, honesty, and caring for people; and harvesting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, loyalty, humility and self-control. This collective moral force overcame personal failures, subsumed personal preferences, traditional cultures, and differences of class, race, sex, age and religion. It became even stronger through suffering.

    5. That this collective moral force withstood the heresies of the oppressors, shamed their false values, and proved stronger than the arsenal of violence thrown against it. 1994 was the triumph of that collective moral force.


Further noting
  1. That although apartheid was overthrown, the forces against change and in pursuit of the apartheid colonial ideology sought to subvert the process of transformation. This subversion at the level of ideas, on the one hand plays on the fears of sectors of our society who see in the project of social transformation, an immediate challenge to their material conditions and way of life. Running across the mindset is therefore the common fear of ‘black majority rule’, conjuring images of collapse of the rule of law, dispossession and vengeance.

  2. On the other hand, it is manifested in the viewpoint of the supremacy of market forces to which all should kneel in prayer: ‘everyone for himself and the Devil takes the hindmost!’ Greed and the pursuit of personal wealth as a priority are thus accepted as gods to be worshipped. The world of the have and have-nots, in South Africa and in the world, is presented as a fact of life.

  3. Our hard-won freedom is therefore interpreted as freedom to develop individualistic self-enrichment, even if it is against the common good. Instead of discovering a positive role to transform the country in critical cooperation with the democratic government, we are reduced to asking what is in it for me. This dictatorship of rampant self-centred individualism undermine the sense of a common moral purpose and the vision and power of the people in which the strength of the ANC is vested.

  1. That all revolutions – political, social and religious – can blunt their cutting edge, and move from a stage of high moral values to a loss of vision on the common good. That the slogans may survive, but they lose their strength. That revolution is not irreversible, and needs to be pursued with vigilance less it loses its priorities.

  2. Such vigilance should include ensuring that our people’s struggle is not subverted to move from a social struggle to a personal struggle, from community to individual, from commitment to entitlement and a vision of a new world to the quest for power in that world.

  3. That although the quest for possessions and personal advancement is a legitimate part of the struggle, but are balanced with the common good.

  4. That oppressive and exploitative forces are never defeated: they regroup. They call themselves by a different name and adopt the slogans of liberation, but their aim is still to manipulate its internal collapse.

Further Believing
  1. That transformation means rebuilding the ideology of a collective moral force, and the pursuit of the collective common good. The ANC’s initiative of a new vision for today’s world requires a specific programme to promote:-

  1. a struggle for transformation which is collective not individualist, united not sectarian, and spiritual but not necessarily religious.

  2. a dominant vision of a new country and a new world in which the focus is on a better life for all which banishes poverty and its attendant evils.

  3. a commitment beyond ourselves to a new Africa.

  4. enjoyment of a collective solidarity in which generosity replaces greed, service replaces the lust for power, transparency replaces corruption, and the ANC takes the lead the people have given it to establish a collective moral force.


It is therefore proposed that Conference considers the practical import of moral regeneration within the parameters of every policy For example, in Economic transformation

  1. Noting: That the South Africa of 1994 inherited an economic system, which was immoral, exploitative, racist, sexist, unequal and thus fundamentally unjust, that this legacy continues to impact on the human dignity of millions of our people, relegating them to poverty, hunger, neglect and abuse.

  2. That our policies since 1994 have sought to proactively address this situation, but that much more needs to be done to change our people’s lives for the better and restore the human dignity of all.

  3. Believing: That the moral principles and vision of the Freedom Charter, and our new Constitution, endorsed by all progressive and moral movements, are just and achievable.

  4. Resolves: To continue our efforts to ensure that our economic policy is just, democratic, contributes towards greater equity and fundamentally addresses the scourge of poverty and inequality.

On Social Transformation
  1. Noting: That the apartheid colonial legacy is one of violence, abuse, intolerance, and divisions and encouraged the preying on the most vulnerable in our society. It meant the deliberate underdevelopment of the majority and privileges in all areas of human endeavour for the few.

  2. That our policies of social transformation are therefore aimed at building a caring society that addresses the needs of all, but in particular the most vulnerable.

  3. That failures to transform society are fundamentally moral and spiritual failures, whether this is seen in terms of internal reconstruction and development, or in terms of international sustainable development.

  4. Believing: that social transformation requires persons of moral integrity to empower its policies and programmes, and that human beings experience fulfilment of body, mind and spirit in community and not in individualistic isolation.

  5. Resolves: To commend and support those who have collectively committed themselves to establish new patterns of social development, such as the uniquely South African cross-cultural National Religious Leaders Forum (NRLF), and the multi-sectoral Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM).

  6. To persist in such developments as the Alliance to bring together moral commitments from different backgrounds and translate them into practical policies of transformation.

  7. and calls on all structures of the ANC to set their commitment to social transformation within this context.


In a similar manner, in all spheres of policy, Conference is requested to set both its intellectual consideration and practical implementation within the context of the collective moral force which empowered us throughout the liberation struggle, and is vital to the transformation struggle in which we are now engaged.


Future electoral systems for South Africa
Discussion document for National Policy Conference


“We conceive of our country as a single united, democratic and non-racial state, belonging to all who live in it, in which all shall enjoy equal rights, and in which sovereignty will come from the people as a whole, and not from a collection of Bantustans and racial and tribal groupings organized to perpetuate minority power” [O.R Tambo, “Message to the Fourth Congress of the Frelimo Party”, Sechaba, London, July 1983]


  1. These words from the late Cde Tambo are essential foundational principles of any modern South African state and must continuously enforce our thinking in defining national debate.

  2. There are a number of elements that require close examination by the organisation in determining the nature and extent of any new electoral system to be adopted by government in the coming months. The mandate of the Slabbert Commission, established in 2001 by Cabinet in accordance with the Constitution, calls for an urgent re-look at the present model and where necessary to make proposals in line with a more efficient system of elections, but more importantly one that reflects best the will and expressions of the electorate both during elections as well as after many months have passed.

  3. Any sober review of an electoral system should therefore include a detailed analysis of our objectives in the transition period, including the nature of the transition state and the policy objectives of government in the coming decade. We must approach these issues in a frank and open manner, with a view to develop the best system that meets the core objectives of the transition, namely building a united nation, enhancing and deepening democracy and advancing the developmental agenda to create a better life for all.

  4. Our starting point is the strategic objective of the NDR, the creation of a non-racial, democratic, nonsexist and united South Africa. The Strategy and Tactics (1997) recognises that we are in a phase in which we have started to change society at the same time as we transform the instruments required to effect that change.

  5. These twin objectives have to be pursued simultaneously. Social change cannot await the transformation of the state machinery and other instruments of power. But, as experience has taught us, we cannot expect to proceed with the desired pace without changing these instruments”
Context of the debate about the electoral system
  1. The 1996 final Constitution does not have detailed prescriptions about how elections for national and provincial legislatures should be run. The constitution provides only a number of broad principles for the election. It also contains transitional arrangements, which specified that the present system only applied until 1999 and that new legislation for new electoral systems could be made subsequent to the 1999 election.

  2. The Electoral Task Team (ETT), chaired by Prof Van Zyl Slabbert, has been appointed to make recommendations about future electoral systems. The ETT meets at a time when there is heightened debate in the media about whether a constituency or proportional representation system better serves democracy.

  3. The NEC discussed the ANC position at its regular meeting in July 2002 and decided that we should continue to support a PR system for national and provincial elections. We adopted this system during negotiations before 1994, because we wanted an inclusive system and the representation of minority views, in the interest of an inclusive transition. The movement believes that eight years later, we still need to harness our inclusive political system in the interest of nation-building and national unity.

  4. The Electoral Task Team will make recommendations about changing or improving the present system before the end of this year and the NEC will have to consider the specific recommendations before we adopt a final position.

  5. 10. The following five criteria are proposed for evaluating systems:

  • Does it deepen democracy and reflect the democratically expressed will of the people?

  • Will it contribute to nation-building and maintain political stability and peace?

  • Will voters feel effectively represented by the elected parliamentarians?

  • Simplicity in terms of voter understanding and

  • Practicality in terms of implementation

This document summarises the current ANC position on different electoral systems.

Different Electoral systems

There are three main systems that we must consider:

  1. The present proportional representation system with possible improvements: All MPs and MPLs are drawn from candidates lists selected by their parties. Each party gets a proportion of the seats according to their proportion of the votes. Presently each provincial legislature has one list. Parliament has two lists – 200 seats from a national list, 200 seats from provincial lists.

  2. A pure constituency system: Parties and independents nominate candidates for each of 400 constituencies. The candidate who gets the most votes, wins the seat. This is called the first-past-the post system. If there are many candidates, the winner could be supported by a minority of the voters.

  3. A mixed system: Some MPs come from a national PR list and some come from multi-member constituencies. For example about 50 constituencies could be set up according to district and metro council boundaries. They would then be allocated a number of seats according to the number of voters. If a constituency has 5 seats and we win 60%, we will get 3 MPs for that area. Parties will get PR seats in the same way as in our local elections – a top-up system to restore overall proportionality.

Criteria for choosing an electoral system
  1. We will briefly look at each of the criteria as they apply to each system, and then summarise conclusions:-

  2. Does it deepen democracy and reflect the democratically expressed will of the people? The PR system is the most democratic in that no votes are wasted or lost. In terms of capturing the will of the people, it is the most effective. It ensures that the urban poor and rural voters participate fully and have a powerful impact on results. Minority parties also get fair representation and can express their needs as part of the democratic process. It limits the ability of powerful and well-resourced interest groups to buy power through sponsoring individual’s campaigns.

  3. The constituency or first past the post system is undemocratic, since the government can be formed by a party that received less than half the national vote – as has happened with the Conservative Party in Great Britain a number of times. Constituencies where four parties are standing, can sometimes be won by getting only 33% of the vote.

  4. A mixed system is democratic because the PR list is used to restore overall proportionality. It does however create two classes of public representatives and small parties will be unlikely to have any constituency MPs. If a constituency has 5 members, you would need 20% of the vote to get a seat. Constituencies will range from 3 – 20 members. Only large metro areas would have up to 20 seats. It is likely that only two parties will be able to nationally contest constituencies, with two other being successful only in KZN and Western Cape. This effectively means that most parties would not really participate in a constituency system and their voters would derive no benefit from it.

  5. Will it contribute to nation-building and maintain political stability and peace? The present PR system enables parties to draw up representative lists that include all elements of their constituencies. It also accommodates even the smallest party in a parliamentary democratic system since 0,25% of the vote will secure a seat. This accommodation contains some extremist political groups that could otherwise be threat to stability.

  6. A pure first past the post system will lead to the ANC having 80% of the MPs with the DP, IFP and NNP sharing the rest. All smaller parties will disappear or be limited to one or two seats. Voters in each constituency will be polarised when only the winners will be effectively represented. Instead of bringing our society together it will bring not only greater polarisation, with special interests supporting particular MPs who would reflect their interests only.

  7. A mixed system will have some of the benefits of the PR system, but these may be watered down by the constituency element where parties will have very few seats to allocate and will find it more difficult to have a representative list. The ANC will win a disproportionate number of constituency seats and will therefore have a smaller part of the PR list to use for balancing its own representation.

  8. Will voters feel effectively represented by the elected parliamentarians? The strongest argument advanced against a pure PR system is that voters feel removed from their elected representatives and feel that they are not accountable to them. This notion ignores the fact that alternative systems do not in practice remedy the problems. In a PR system voters vote for a party with a clear national programme. They tend to identify with the national and provincial leaders of that party. In local elections where the representatives are much closer to the people, there are still complaints of distance and lack of accountability. We have a ratio at local level of one ward councillor to about 5 000 voters. There may well be ways to improve accountability and communication and we should also look at our own selection and constituency deployment processes.

  9. In a pure constituency system there would be about 1 MP to 50 000 voters. Constituencies would be geographically vast and in provinces like the Northern Cape which constitutes 30% of the land mass of the country, only about 8 MPs would be elected. Constituency candidates are still selected by and accountable to their parties. The belief that they will represent the interests of a vast and diverse population, with competing interests, rather than toe the party line, seems a little naïve. It may be an appropriate model in a more homogenous society.

  10. The mixed system will allow for more direct identification between MPs and a geographic area. It may be a slight improvement on a pure PR system in terms of this criterion. In reality most parties would not have any constituency MPs. The MPs elected will have vast area to cover and if there are, for e.g., 200 elected this way, they would each relate to an average of 200 000 voters. In diverse and divided constituencies there is the danger that strong and well-resourced interest groups can become more influential than the democratic process itself.

  11. Simplicity in terms of voter understanding. The PR and pure constituency system are both simple and familiar to voters because of the present systems for national and ward elections. The mixed PR and multi-member constituency system is more complicated and may hinder the full-scale participation of illiterate and marginalised voters.

  12. Practicality in terms of implementation. The PR system is the simplest to implement since only two ballots will be used in each province. The nomination system, disqualification of candidates, printing of ballot papers and results can easily be centrally coordinated. Remaining with this system will need no re-demarcation or changes to the electoral legislation or system. This will limit the preparation, training of officials and voter education that has to be done. Both the other systems would require extensive changes in law and procedures.

  1. The current system in place affords a great degree of stability. It allows for fair representation and gives a voice to all. It has certainly allowed for a greater degree of participation of women, people with disabilities and other targeted groups than any other system could. The system is also simple and familiar to voters.

  2. Our preference for this system in no way diminishes the need for constituency-based consultation and communication. We remain committed to deploying MPs/MPLs to constituencies. We should continue to find ways to improve this practice. We should also look at better ways for our elected representatives in all spheres of government to work together to serve a constituency effectively.

  3. Modern parliaments are mostly directed by party positions rather than individual MPs views. Therefore political parties are the main vehicles for the representation of various interests. The trend is for voters to find a home in the ideology and policies of a particular party and to vote for the party or its candidate at all levels.

  4. This debated will be continued when the ETT presents it proposals.

Sustainable Development in South Africa
Discussion document for Provincial Policy Conferences


“We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children”

The WSSD in Johannesburg took place ten years after the Earth Summit held in Rio, Brazil in 1992. The Rio Summit was important because it brought a new understanding of development, called sustainable development. Sustainable development means joining together economic growth to provide decent jobs for workers and greater prosperity for the world as a whole; social upliftment to eradicate poverty, especially for women, the elderly, the youth and the disabled; and environmental protection, so that as we grow and develop we should not destroy the environment, which also belongs to our children and our children’s children.

The definition of sustainable development adopted at Rio was: “Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” At Rio the leaders of the world agreed on this concept and also on a programme of action to achieve sustainable development called ‘Agenda 21’.

Ten years later, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said, “progress towards the goals established at Rio has been slower than anticipated and in some respects conditions are worse than they were ten years ago”.

Among the main problems are:

Levels of poverty and inequality continue to be unacceptable, particularly in Africa. At Rio it was agreed: “All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.”

But today, over one billion people worldwide live on less than one dollar a day (or R10-00 a day). At the same time many countries of the North have the highest levels of economic prosperity in the history of the world. Also, the gap between rich and poor has grown wider. In 1993 around 25% of the world’s people got 75% of the world’s income. In that same year, the US population (which is 250 million) had an income greater than the poorest 43% of the world’s people (which are 2 billion).

Kofi Anan says that: “During the 1990’s, the overall poverty rate in developing countries, based on an income poverty line of $1 per day, declined from 29 per cent in 1990 to 23 per cent in 1998. The total number of people in income poverty declined slightly from about 1.3 billion to 1.2 billion. There has been substantial progress in reducing poverty through rapid economic growth in East and South-east Asia, and some progress in reducing the poverty rate in South Asia and Latin America. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, where almost half the population live in poverty, there has been no progress in reducing the poverty rate, and the number of people in poverty has increased substantially.”

The rich developed countries have not gone far enough in fulfilling promises they made in Rio -either to protect their own environments or to help the developing world defeat poverty. Poor countries are still unfairly denied access to the markets of rich countries.

The problem of debt has not been resolved and the rich countries have not increased their financial assistance to poor countries – instead it has decreased.

At discussions on global finance and the economy, the environment is still treated as an unwelcome guest.

At the same time the rich countries did not want the WSSD to discuss issues related to the global economy.

Instead they want it to focus only on environmental problems. The United States has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which sets targets for the reduction of pollution. This is an example of how the rich countries are refusing to change the way they produce and consume the world’s resources.

Environmental injustice continues: It is the poor who suffer most from environmental problems since it is they who have inadequate access to natural resources, and live in degraded environments. More than 1 billion people are without safe drinking water. Twice that number lack adequate sanitation. And more than 3 million people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water. The biggest cause of death in children under the age of five is now acute lung diseases, caused largely by our world’s pollution problems.

The state of the world’s environment is still fragile. It is predicted that by 2032, half the world will be short of water, 70% of our land surface will be urbanised, and there will be another 2 billion mouths to feed. Already at least 33% of the planet’s fish stocks have been depleted.

So, although the Rio Earth Summit agreed on the Agenda 21 programme, the world continues to face the problems of poverty, inequality, unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and environmental injustice. This was the context in which we hosted the WSSD in Johannesburg in 2002. The issues on the agenda at the Summit were preceded by some other key international agreements, in particular:

  • The creation of an African Union and the adoption by the AU of NEPAD as a programme for sustainable development on the African continent.

  • The decision by the UN Millennium Summit in 2000 to halve world poverty by the year 2015;

  • The World Trade Organisation’s Doha decisions to embark on a development round of negotiations, which will give better access to the markets of the rich North, for the producers from the South.

  • The adoption of the Monterrey Consensus by the United Nation’s Finance for Development conference which provides a framework for development financing.

The WSSD in Johannesburg provided a unique opportunity for governments, UN bodies, business, civil society and the Development Finance Institutions to agree on the mechanisms and resources required to meet sustainable development targets at global, regional, national and local level.

The issues of development in an international context cannot be ‘won’ or ‘lost’ in one meeting. Building international consensus around progressive concepts of sustainable development is a long-term project – a long climb of which the WSSD is one stage. That is why we need to maintain our own momentum towards sustainable development well beyond the summit – for decades to come.

Eradicating poverty is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, particularly for developing countries. The WSSD was concerned with how to take forward these actions and is therefore an important forum, especially for the poorer countries of the world.



The Summit was attended by representatives of 185 governments, with at least 100 of the delegations led by Heads of State and Governments; major intergovernmental organisations, such as the EU, the Commonwealth and the NEPAD Secretariat. The Summit was also attended by representatives of indigenous people and the major social sectors in all societies, including women, the youth, workers, and others. Present also were major players in the global economy, including industrialists and other business people, the trade union movement, farmers and workers.

Major international, regional and national nongovernmental organisations, which focus on the central issues of socio-economic development, poverty eradication and the protection of the environment, were also at the Summit.

The WSSD after much negotiation adopted the Johannesburg Declaration committing all those who attended the summit to effective implementation of Agenda 21, the Millenium Development Goals and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. It represented a global commitment to a number of clear targets and practical steps to tackle poverty and environmental degradation, especially in areas such as water and sanitation, energy, waste and pollution, agriculture, biodiversity and eco-system management and economic development. The world also threw its weight behind the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, making specific commitments to assist the continent as part of the implementation plan of the WSSD. One of the major achievements of the Johannesburg summit, was that we managed to shift the world’s understanding of sustainable development, away from a narrow focus of environmental protection, towards a greater understanding of social and economic development.

The Summit did not achieve all the results that we sought. Accordingly, we should not treat its outcome as a ceiling, the maximum of what we, and the rest of the world, are required to do to promote sustainable development. For our movement, which knows how a united front and negotiations among contending forces work, it constitutes a positive, but minimum programme. We must defend and implement this programme, being honour-bound to respect the international agreements into which we enter. Such is the historical morality of our movement.



The ANC remains committed to the principles of sustainable development. Agenda 21 served to encourage and inspire our own democratic movement in South Africa to draft the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). Therefore, many of the policies and programmes that we have put in place since 1994 are directly inspired by the outcomes of the Rio Earth Summit.

Global inequalities and patterns of poverty, perpetuated by unsustainable economic practices, are reflected in South Africa. We are one of the most unequal societies in the world and these inequalities reflect the racial and gender divisions created by apartheid.

The poorest 40% of our people receive 11% of the national income, while the richest 10% receive 40% of the total national income. Many South Africans continue to live without adequate water and sanitation.

The majority of women in South Africa are unemployed, 48% of the women who are employed earn less than R500 per month and as many as 60% of female-headed households are classified poor.

The growth of about 23% of children under the age of 6 is stunted, indicating a lengthy period of undernutrition.

The most seriously affected children are those in rural areas whose mothers have relatively little education. The infant mortality rate is 8-10 times higher for Africans than for whites.

But what has this got to do with the environment?

There are complex links between poverty, wealth and environmental degradation in South Africa, and this impacts directly on the quality of life of people. These include the following:

It is the wealthy who produce the most waste, and consume the most resources – in particular water and energy. It is the poor who live close to waste dumps, who live in areas close to mine dumps, are forced to drink unpotable water from lack of choice, experience poor waste management, live with air pollution in their homes from smoky imbhawulas and who have raw sewerage running down streets.

Much environmental degradation is a result of overconsumption of resources and over-production of waste by a minority of rich consumers, most of whom are white and live in urban areas.

The contrast between those who consume and waste too much, and those who have too little, is apparent in South Africa with its high levels of inequality. We are a striking example of the concept of environmental injustice where, as a consequence of unbalanced power relationships, the poor often largely bear the costs of unsustainable and unjust practices.

The relationship between poverty and environment often appear as self-perpetuating cycles. For example: many poor rural South Africans are living on inferior land; in their attempt to make a simple living they contribute to the downgrading of their environment; the impoverished environment makes their poverty worse, which in turn puts more pressure on the environment. Such cycles are hard to break and even more difficult to reverse, and they move us away from sustainable development.

Our Provincial and National Policy Conferences must therefore understand the relevance of sustainable development to addressing issues of poverty, democracy and quality of life. And we cannot address our development challenges in isolation of the global system.



South Africa is not just a country where the problems of sustainable development are easy to observe. In addition, we are a country that, since 1994, has shown the world many innovative solutions to these problems. President Thabo Mbeki recently said: “The nations of the world elected to come to our country because they understand and appreciate what we have done in the last seven-and-a-half years to address within our own borders precisely the same questions that constitute the global agenda. They choose to convene in South Africa because they are convinced that we have something of value to contribute to the building of a new and more equitable world order that must surely emerge.” Since 1994, we have been implementing the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which reflects the objectives of Agenda 21. We have many practical examples to draw lessons from that speak to the objectives of Agenda 21:

South African law defines sustainable development as “the integration of social, economic and environmental factors into planning, implementation and decisionmaking so as to ensure that development serves present and future generations.” This vision has been taken forward in our programmes We embarked on a major social programme so as to progressively achieve universal access by all to adequate housing, energy, education, health, water and sanitation. Through these programmes, living and livelihood conditions have improved for millions in a short space of time. The delivery of basic services aims to reduce inequality and poverty.

Perhaps the most successful anti-poverty initiative since 1994 has been the investment in infrastructure.

Much of this investment has directly benefited the poor, improving access to electricity, safe water, new schools and health clinics. The mass electrification programme has been one of the most successful examples. Initiated in 1991, and included as a key government programme after the 1994 elections, the programme has brought electricity to more than 3.3 million homes. The water programme has also made great progress and by 2001 had provided basic water supply to more than 7 million people living in rural areas and 400 000 people with basic sanitation services, as well as large numbers of new connections in urban areas. One of the most remarkable achievements is the building and transfer of low-cost housing through the National Housing Programme. As of June 2001, over 1.1 million units had been delivered, accommodating 5.7 million people. This represents a phenomenal 14% of the total population of the country.

The goal of equity and poverty eradication has also been pursued through providing more equitable access to natural resources, with significant changes made in the areas of water, fisheries and land. South Africa is implementing a land reform programme in order to right historic wrongs, develop agricultural productivity and provide a basis for sustainable livelihoods. Secure land tenure is important for the success of attempts to lever investment into previously underdeveloped areas through the Spatial Development Initiatives, and to improve local resource management and economies through community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) programmes.

At the more local level, South Africa has made significant strides in the achievement of sustainable development objectives. Our system of democratic and non-racial local government is only 18 months old, and in many areas it is still finding its feet. But we have established the structures for democratic participation of local communities in the preparation and implementation of plans for sustainable development, through the process of drafting integrated development plans (IDPs)

While South Africa has achieved much, we continue to face huge challenges of poverty and environmental degradation. These worsen with economic development that is not sustainable. In order to move forward on a sustainable basis, we must reflect on how we are consuming (depleting) and polluting (degrading) our natural resources. These are limited. Sustainable development means ensuring that we meet our natural resource needs whilst ensuring that out children will be able to meet theirs.

Our Policy Conferences must address this, and ensure that we continue to integrate this approach to sustainable development in all our policies.