Policy and Political Processes towards Conference
Statement by Cde Jeff Radebe at the breakfast briefing
13 August 2002
The African National Congress will be holding its 51st National Conference, from 16-20 December 2002, at Stellenbosch University under the theme PEOPLES POWER IN ACTION. PHAMBILI MAVOLUNTIYA. AFRIKA KE NAKO. Conference will take place in the year that the ANC celebrates its 90th anniversary – making it one of the oldest political movements in the country, and on the African continent.
A key feature of the ANC over the 90 years has been the stability of its policy positions. This derives from an unswerving commitment to the vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non- sexist and prosperous South Africa. Whatever the detail in the policy, the orientation has remained the same -the creation of this kind of South Africa. The ANC thus at all times avoided opportunism and populism, whatever the circumstances. It resisted all attempts to deny it its right to make its own decisions and has kept to its fundamental tenets.
At the heart of our policies is the commitment to achieve people-centred development and build a caring society. The policies adopted by the 1997 and 2000 conferences are focused on the achievement of these goals. To this end, they aim at the eradication of the legacy of colonialism, racism and gender oppression. Our policies are directed at ensuring that we end the poverty and underdevelopment of the majority of our people. Obviously, this covers many areas of human activity, social and economic.
Our existing policies are also aimed at building a society that enables all our citizens to develop themselves to the full and to exercise their right to human dignity. This entails not only freedom from want, but the critical right of the citizen to safety and security. It includes access to knowledge, to banish ignorance, and freedom to enjoy one’s culture, language and develop one’s identity.
Through the decades, the ANC sustained the vision of African unity, convinced that the peoples of our continent share a common destiny and that they need to combine their efforts and resources to achieve Africa’s renaissance. We have been committed to the view that Africa must play her rightful role in global affairs, no longer marginalized and despised.
The NEC when it discussed the political and policy discussion papers for 51st National Conference, which we are launching in this Special UMRABULO today, reviewed progress since the 50th Conference in 1997. It concluded that the essential pillars of our policy as decided by the 1997 and 2000 conferences remain valid and correct. It also agreed that there may be a few areas that might require some new policy initiatives. The NEC also took the view that we must continue with our preparations to hold a Policy Conference from 27 – 30 September 2002 before the National Conference. Through our branches, the membership has therefore been asked to make its own determination concerning these important matters relating to policy. Delegates representing the views of this membership will therefore gather at the Policy Conference to effect such changes as may be thought necessary.
The discussion papers in the Special UMRABULO assess the overall progress we have made as a society since 2002. This is captured in the discussion documents on Strategy and Tactics and the Balance of forces. These two papers calls for discussion on the new developments – eight years after liberation – which will impact on the Strategy and Tactics of the ANC over the next period. Amongst the new developments that are raised for discussions are:
- The impact of the international balance of forces on South Africa and Africa: It noted that since 1997, we had the crisis in Asia and South America, the emergence of the anti- globalisation movement, greater acceptance for Africa’s agenda, which has resulted in new discourses on the policy options opened to the developing world, the impact of globalisation and prescriptions of the IMF and World Bank in the context of a more just world order.
- Nationally, we must address such issues as changing apartheid property relations through the mobilization of public and social capital and tactical alliance between the liberation movement and patriotic capital. In addition, managing differences in the tripartite alliance on various tactical and policy issues must also be addressed.
- Issues for discussions with regards our programme for the next five years include such matters as the integrated functioning of government; an approach to spatial development that will fundamentally change the apartheid geography of our towns, cities and rural areas; the issue of a social accord first raised by the NEC Lekgotla in January 2002 and re-affirmed by the Alliance at the Ekurhuleni Summit earlier this year, in the context of a growth and development strategy and the integration of gender to further the cause of women’s emancipation.
The papers acknowledge that the main challenge faced by the ANC is that of “continuity and change – continuity in the substance of policy, and change in the detail as well as style, pace and effectiveness of implementation.”
The Policy papers gives information on progress, challenges and raise the issues for debate, and will also be discussed in the 3000 odd ward-based branches. Branches will prepare Draft resolutions on these, which will then be part of the deliberations at Provincial Policy Workshops from 14-15 and 21-22 September 2002. Without pre-empting the discussions in these structures, the policy papers raise the following key issues:-
> Social Transformation: This area deals with the challenge of poverty, which we said in the RDP is ‘the single greatest burden of South Africa’s people’. Deriving from the RDP, government strategy to address poverty rests on the following pillars: re-orientation of the Budget, fiscal policy and the public sector; Meeting the basic needs of the disadvantaged and poor (houses, electricity, water, education); programmes to boost the incomes of the poor (job creation through the NPWP, poverty alleviation programmes, support to the SMME sector, social grants, and so forth); and programmes aimed at targeted groups such as women, disabled, children and the youth.
The overview of progress focus on the areas of comprehensive health care – dealing with infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, TB, cholera, Maternal and child health, Integrated food security, water and sanitation and so forth. It raises concerns about the quality of care and human resource development in the public health sector.
The paper also raises for discussion recommendations of the Task team on the Comprehensive Social security – on extending the Child Grant, the national health insurance, the basic income grant and so forth for discussions by structures. It noted the need for greater social mobilization of all sectors to ensure that the groups already targeted (children under 6 years, disabled, the elderly) are able to access these grants.
It is noted that the biggest challenge in attacking poverty has been in the areas of employment creation, SMME development and access of the poor to micro finance and credit. Our social and economic programmes have as yet to result in significant positive gains in employment.
The Integrated rural development programme, targeting the 17 poorest rural districts in the country forms a critical part of our programmes to push back the frontiers of poverty, with anchor projects in each of these being implemented. However, it needs much greater coordination, and the building of the capacity of local government in these areas.
On Land reform, progress in land restitution was noted, especially over the last three years. Other programmes to deal with land reform include the acquisition of land for farm workers and labour tenants, land to municipalities for the establishment of commonages which can be used by the poor for subsistence farming and Land reform for agricultural development programme (LRAD). This is supported by the Land bank which provide access to credit for emerging farmers and agricultural support services by the department.
The section on Human resource development note the progress we have made in deracialising education and introducing compulsory education from 7 – 16 years. However, the main issue that is raised for discussion is how do we ensure that we improve the quality of education for disadvantaged and poor learners and communities. The paper presents a number of options.
Nation building is central to the challenge of a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. In the area of heritage and nation-building, we thus look at the role played by such initiatives as our new national symbols, heritage projects, the development and equality of all official languages, arts and culture and sport in nation building and development.
> Economic transformation: This paper reminds us about the crisis faced by the economy we inherited in 1994, and work since then to restructure the economy to meet the needs of all South African people. It notes that whilst growth (average of 2% p.a.) and investment (15-17%) have improved since then, it is still too slow to make a decisive impact on living standards. It noted the phenomenal growth in exports, diversification of manufacturing, the cut in taxes and the decline in the budget deficit. We achieved macro economic stability through GEAR. And, although government spending declined in the late 1990’s in real terms, from 2001 we have seen substantial increase in spending on infrastructure, the social services and defence. This is possible in the context of lower government debt payments, lower interest rates and reduced public debt.
Labour relations have improved and the number of strikes are well below levels of the early 90’s. The labour force is also getting better educated, with 72% of people aged 15-35 having some secondary school, compared with 51% of those over 35 years.
The level of unemployment has not dropped; although the economy is creating new jobs, it is not in large enough numbers to absorb the new entrants to the labour market. The new jobs created are either high skilled or in the informal sector, and there is a structural unemployment problem in the labour market.
In addition to these overall indicators, the paper reviews specific policy instruments such as the Micro economic reforms, the notion of shared growth, the role of institutions such as NEDLAC; the role of the state in the economy and cross cutting issues such as fiscal and monetary policy, black economic empowerment, restructuring of state owned enterprises, rural development and science and technology. It reviews specific sectors of the economy, in particular agriculture, energy, housing, land, marine fisheries, minerals, transport and tourism.
Amongst the specific issues it raises for debate are: the development of an employment strategy; investment and infrastructure; black economic empowerment, financial sector restructuring, and accelerating growth and development.
> Transforming the state and governance: The institutions we inherited in 1994 were based on the values of colonialism, racism and sexism. This meant that white males exercised political, economic and social power, white women social power, and black men and women had no power and were fit to serve.
This is the state that we sought to change, and eight years later, we have made progress in changing its composition and orientation to be representative of and serve all South Africa’s people. However, we are still faced with challenges such as making the public service responsive to people’s needs, making integrated and cooperative governance a reality; rooting out corruption, simplifying the operations and procedures of government and strengthening the capacity of local government.
With regards parliament and the legislatures, we raise such issues as the size of legislatures, the role of the institution of traditional leadership and how we can improve representative and participative governance.
> Infrastructure development: A government review of the infrastructure needs conducted after 1994 indicated that we have a backlog of R170 billion – across all areas of activity. Since 1994, the public sector has accounted for about 30% of gross capital formation in South Africa. Thus, since 1994 2.8 million phones have been installed, over 1.4 million housing subsidies have been allocated and over 1.3 million houses built, and over 3 million homes electrified. Since 1994, we have also spent mover R18 billion on roads, and since 1997/98 we have also spent over R1.6 billion on rail infrastructure. The Consolidated Municipal Infrastructure Programme has allocated R3.4 billion for sanitation, water and storm water projects. Also, the infrastructure budgets for health and education increased dramatically since 1998/99 as well.
Major challenges include continuing to make progress in reducing the backlog of social and economic infrastructure through better coordination of government investment and implementation, and mobilizing private sector investment as well. In this regard, measurers such as the Community Reinvestment Fund proposed by Housing are important.
In addition, we also need to improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure and address the capacity of the poor to pay for services. The introduction of a basic basket of free services (water, electricity) is one way of addressing this, but needs to be seen in the broader context of improving incomes of the poor.
> Peace and Stability: The creation of a better life for all must also mean the safety and security of all our citizens. We have made progress with the implementation of the national crime prevention strategy, to stablise crimes in the 128 police stations accounting for 50% of all crimes in the country. This programme will now be extended to a further 195 station areas. We are also making progress with transforming the judiciary and prosecutions to more effectively deal with prosecutions, including special measurers to address the case backlogs. The Correctional services face many challenges, in particular the need to root out corruption in the system, which the Jali commission is addressing and a focus on rehabilitation.
The Child Justice Bill will be tabled at parliament this year, which will comprehensively reform the youth and child justice system, focusing on diversion of children and juveniles from the criminal justice system. Violence against women and children and rape have been identified as amongst the priority crimes.
Eight years later, we have integrated the SADF, TBVC and MK and APLA, but a number of challenges such as racism and sexism in the SANDF, affirmative action, transformation of the reserve forces, rationalization of the army into a professional force and the culture of the defence force must be addressed. The SANDF is also playing a role in peacekeeping in the region, in a number of countries such as the DRC, Burundi, Ethiopia/Eritrea and so forth.
> Targeted groups: This paper looks at the impact of our policies on sectors in our society such as women, children, youth, disabled and the elderly.
> Challenges facing the African continent: The 50th Conference in 1997 outlined our vision of the African renaissance. This paper takes this discussion forward, focusing on how Africa got to the point where we are now – in particular after the decolonialisation process, the initiatives over the years to address its marginalisation and the launch of the African Union and Nepad.
> Media in a democratic South Africa: Focus on different form of communication, the role of mass communication in the information society, the nature of South African media (public, private and community media) and what are the challenges facing media in a democracy.
These discussion papers provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges of transformation we face as a country. Over the next few months in the lead-up to conference hundreds of thousands of ANC and Alliance members will be debating and deliberating on all these issues, using their local and sectoral experience to assess the impact of our policies and make recommendations about speeding up change.
We believe this is a process that should not only involve ANC structures, but call on broader society and different sectors to engage with us on these issues. We must all reflect on these challenges, bearing in mind that the principle task we face is to make more decisive progress to create a better life and a more caring society, as we approach 10 years of freedom and beyond!
Issued by the ANC Policy Committee Luthuli House 54 Sauer Street
For more information: S. Ngonyama on 082 569 2061