Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the ANC Manifesto Review Rally
Comrade Deputy President Paul Mashatile
Comrade National Chairperson
ANC National Officials
ANC NEC Members
Comrade Panyaza Lesufi, Chairperson of Gauteng
ANC Leagues, the ANCWL, the ANCYL, the ANCVL
Members of the MK Liberation War Veterans
Alliance Partners, the SACP, COSATU and SANCO
Members of the Mass Democratic Movement
Comrades and Friends
Fellow South Africans
The African National Congress stands before you today as the people’s organisation, to introduce its review of and account on the mandate you, the people, gave the ANC in the 2019 National and Provincial Elections.
This mandate is contained in the 2019 Elections Manifesto which was developed through extensive consultation and participation with the masses of our people across the length and breadth of our country.
This report back is the latest chapter in the long story of our people’s collective struggle for freedom and our continuing efforts to build a better life for all.
Over the next two months we will be taking this Manifesto Review process to the different parts of our country, engaging communities in cities, towns, villages, factories, farms and our places of work.
This Manifesto Review Process is a listening exercise that takes place in a South Africa that is a markedly different place than it was 30 years ago. It is a better, more just, more humane and more inclusive country.
The decisive peoples’ mandate given to the ANC in 1994 was based on their belief in the vision that it stands for, a National Democratic Society that is people-centered and democratic, that is non-racial and non-sexist, that is prosperous and inclusive, and where the people govern and participate in their own development.
Over these three decades, guided by our Constitution, we have constructed a democratic state that represents all the people, and foregrounds the interests and representation of the poor and of women.
Although the challenges we face today are deeply rooted in our past, over the last 30 years we have developed a Constitution, policies, laws and programmes, that seek to unite and build a better life for all South Africans, in our diversity.
Millions more people have houses, electricity and access to water and sanitation services. This government continues to stretch every sinew to expand access to quality and affordable health care to everyone.
South Africa has, since 1994, built one of the most extensive systems of social grants on the continent. Together with other elements of the social wage, such as free basic services, health care, education and subsidised housing to poor and working-class South Africans, the ANC government continues to provide comprehensive social protection to millions of poor and vulnerable. The extent and depth of poverty and deprivation means that more than 18 million people receive one or other form of government grant.
This government remains committed to protecting the hard-won cause and rights of workers to organise, collectively bargain and other labour rights.
Our journey also saw the unleashing of the talents of young South Africans, who were born without the shackles and indignity of apartheid. Their talents and creativity are seen in education and arts, in media and music, in literature and culture, science and innovation, in entrepreneurship and in sports.
The above are but a few ways in which life is better today than it was in 1994. However, much more must be done to work with the people to build a better life for all.
We therefore ask people from all walks of life to engage with our critical review of the implementation of the 2019 election manifesto.
The 2019 Manifesto, like all our manifestos since 1994, stays true to our commitment to work with the people to build a better life and focusses on the following key commitments:
- Transform the Economy to Serve the People
- Advance Social Transformation
- Build Safer Communities
- Fight Corruption and Promote Integrity
- Strengthen Governance and Public Institutions
- Build Unity and Embrace Diversity
- A better Africa and a Better World
We present this 2019 Manifesto Review discussion document, mindful that things are very difficult for many families and households, and we must redouble efforts to address the concerns of unemployment, corruption, electricity, crime, GBVF and basic services.
We know from our experience since the dawn of our democracy, and the centuries of struggle, that without unity, without millions more people actively participating in our democracy, without much more ambitious economic transformation agenda, and above all, without struggle, the achievements of the past three-decades will be threatened; racial and national divisions will deepen; patriarchy and gender-based violence will flourish, and politics will become more fragmented and polarised.
Those who refuse to accept transformation, non-racialism and non-sexism, will regroup, emboldened to reverse the gains of freedom.
This will leave a structural legacy of apartheid colonialism, persisting socio-economic crises – the unprecedent level of unemployment, poverty, inequality and rising social violence – affecting majority of our people largely intact.
We therefore invite you to be part of this journey of renewal, of seeking answers to the questions we face, and to work together to build a better South Africa.
Our hope is that the Manifesto Review Process will critically discuss our successes, where mistakes have been made and progress has stalled. Importantly, we hope that the engagements will assist in identifying the actions we must take to correct these.
Let me now highlight a select few sections of the 2019 Manifesto and give verbal feedbacks on these.
Transform the Economy to Serve the People
The ANC made the commitment in the 2019 Manifesto to transform the economy along a developmental growth path that will create jobs and decent jobs.
Shortly after we made this commitment, the world experienced one of the most tumultuous and difficult periods in recent history.
Standing here, in this stadium filled with people sitting close to one another, it is almost unimaginable to recall that a mere 8 months after the 2019 elections we faced the global COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 was unprecedented in its devastation and impact on every aspect of our lives.
We also experienced the violence of July 2021 where over 350 people tragically lost their lives and great damage was caused to our economy.
Just as the world began to emerge from the pandemic, we began to feel the impact of the war between Ukraine and Russia. During this period, our country was hit by a series of extreme weather events caused by climate change.
Over the past five years, the ANC government, working together with labour, business, and civil society, focused on addressing the long-term challenge of building and growing an economy that serves all South Africans and not just a minority – an economy that protects and creates jobs, decent jobs, especially for young people and women.
The pandemic exacerbated South Africa’s pre-existing crises of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
It is estimated that our country suffered more than 2 million job losses and thousands of businesses were shut down during this period.
The ANC government, working with the people, saved many lives threatened by COVID-19, but also saved and protected millions of jobs that would have disappeared without government intervention.
The ANC government also provided vital income support measures for workers and the unemployed, which had a profound impact on their lives and the lives of their families.
The Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS) provided wage subsidies to 5,7 million workers, minimising the impact of job losses and company closures.
The R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant ( SRD grant) benefitted nearly 10 million unemployed people, mainly young people and women.
Whilst more than 16, 3 million people are employed in our country, unemployment remains unacceptably high with between 8 – 10 million people, on the expanded definition of unemployment, being without a job.
Women and young people are most affected by unemployment and we must work harder to change the structure of the economy so that it creates jobs, and better jobs, for our people.
Since it was established, the Presidential Employment Stimulus has benefited over1.2 million people, especially women and youth. This is in addition to other public employment programmes such as the Community Works Programme (CWP) and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
In addition to creating direct employment, government has sought to expand investment by the private sector to stimulate job creation. To achieve this, government led an investment drive with an initial target of R1.2 trillion over five years. This target was exceeded as we mobilised over R1.5 trillion in investment commitments!
Many of these investment pledges are translating into real jobs.
It has been two decades since the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act was passed. The ANC government remains resolute in broadening ownership of the economy, as one of the building blocks for changing the economy to become more inclusive and serve all the people.
We will pass the Expropriation Bill, which is currently in the NCOP and will grant the state the authority to expropriate land for public purposes or interests and establish that nil or zero-rand compensation will be deemed just and equitable in accordance with the law.
The renewed emphasis on passing this Bill follows a failure of opposition parties to support the ANC vote to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to provide for land expropriation without compensation. The passing of this legislation will usher in a new era for sustainable and radical land reform to address the historic injustice.
As mandated by the Manifesto, the ANC government has emphasised and prioritised the importance of various policies and initiatives to support small enterprises, co-operatives, women and young entrepreneurs, and the informal sector in the townships and villages.
Our country has, since 2007 been forced to grapple with the challenges presented by loadshedding and ensuring the security of our energy supply. Loadshedding has had negative effects on the economy, peoples’ overall quality of life and the safety and security of citizens.
The ANC government continues to implement the Energy Action Plan, under the stewardship of the recently appointed Minister of Electricity and it is undeniable that the frequency and severity of loadshedding is beginning to show signs of decreasing.
The tremendous gains made through the electrification of millions of houses have been set back by loadshedding and blackouts. We are concerned about communities and businesses across the country, including the community of Soweto, who have experienced prolonged blackouts. Government is working day and night to attend to these challenges.
We will not rest until power is restored.
Advancing Social Transformation
We remain unwavering in our commitment to opening the doors of learning and culture to everyone.
Government has done well to expand support for Early Childhood Care and will effect continuous improvements in this area. Fifteen years of compulsory education, along with free schooling for the poor, and a daily meal for over 9 million students, have seen near 100% attendance by South African children at educational institutions until at least the age of 15.
The number learners who passed matric increased from 78% in 2019 to 80% in 2022, with none of the provinces preforming below 70%. This was despite the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic and loadshedding.
The performance of learners from poorer schools is steadily improving with the share of bachelor passes in no-fee schools improving from 55% in 2019 to 64% in 2022. This shows the positive impact of our efforts to provide support to learners from poor and working-class backgrounds.
The number of students in post-school education and training, from poor and working-class backgrounds, who receive NSFAS funding increased from 580,000 to 770,000 between 2018 and 2021.
Health care is provided for the more than 50 million South Africans who do not have access to private health insurance, meaning that the overwhelming majority of South Africans continue to rely on the health care system.
To improve access to health care and through its focus on primary health care, the ANC-led government between 1994 and till now built 1749 clinics and 56 hospitals.
However, there is still significant inequality in access to quality health care.
The ANC government continues with efforts to accelerate the full introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) which will enable every South African to receive appropriate standardised quality health care regardless of their ability to pay.
The NHI Bill is currently in the NCOP, having received enthusiastic support from the majority of participants during the public hearings in the provinces and we urge Parliament to finalise this important legislation as soon as possible.
Between 1994 and 2019, 3, 2 million free houses were built benefiting millions of people. This has meant a massive extension of home ownership, growing the productive assets of our people.
During the 6th administration, through the Integrated Residential Development Programme, government has delivered more than 8 245 social housing units in identified restructuring zones; more than 19 000 affordable first home finance houses; more than 198 000 RDP houses and serviced more than 183 700 serviced sites. In addition, government handed over close to 100 000 title deeds to households and families.
Nearly 18.6 million South Africans – up from 2 million in 1999 – are receiving social grants, including 8.4 million receiving R350 monthly Social Relief Distress (SRD) grant introduced for unemployed people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there is popular support for this SRD grant, there are concerns that there are many deserving people who are excluded from the grant and that the value of SRD has not kept up with inflation.
Over the next few months, the ANC government will tackle these exclusions and ensure that the value of the grant is reviewed.
In 1994, only 6 out of 10 South Africans had access to clean drinking water. Today, that figure has increased to nearly 9 out of 10 South Africans.
Today, two out of three South Africans have access to flushed toilets, and eight out of ten have improved sanitary facilities.
These measures have enhanced the quality of life and dignity of millions of South Africans.
We remain committed to eradicating the indignities of bucket toilets, with the number of municipal bucket toilets declining from over 230,000 in 2004 to around 43,000.
Fighting corruption and promoting integrity
We have embarked on a wide range of measures to implement the recommendations of the State Capture Commission, which together should help to ensure that such activities are never able to happen again.
The ANC government has also taken steps by amending sections of the Companies Act in order require the identity of shareholders of companies and address concerns about tax avoidance and illicit financial flows. This include actions taken against illegal imports and illicit cigarette sales.
The ANC, as an organisation, has also taken steps to fight corruption and strengthen integrity though, requiring that members and leaders who are facing serious criminal charges should step aside.
The ANC Government has issued Guidelines on Conducting Lifestyle Audits and provincial departments are being technically assisted to implement lifestyle audits and discipline management.
However, the scourge of corruption persists. In this Manifesto Review, we need to understand how corruption manifests itself and the further steps we must take to eradicate it.
Build Safer Communities
As we meet here today, we are painfully aware of the impact of crime of the lives of our fellow citizens. We all need to feel safe in our homes, schools, workplaces, places of recreation and streets.
Our 2019 Manifesto therefore committed to strengthen policing to help rid our communities of all forms of crime, drugs, gangsterism and violence against women.
We reiterate that gender-based violence has reached crisis proportions, affecting every community and touching the lives of most families. GBV and Femicide along with high levels of crime pose a serious threat to the freedom and dignity of South Africans.
Following the first Presidential Summit on GBFV held in 2018, we adopted a National Strategic Plan on Gender- Based Violence and Femicide (NSP GBVF).
Subsequently, we have strengthened the response of our criminal justice system to GBVF and improved the support provided to survivors, through legislative reform, increasing the number of places of safety and a range of other mechanisms.
In more broader efforts to prevent crime, government continues to invest in the upgrading and building of police stations, as well as the purchasing and maintenance of vehicles. There is also a move towards greater use of technology for crime prevention, including surveillance cameras in public spaces and drones.
During this past financial year, a total of 10 358 new South African Police Service members were enlisted and this enhances the capacity of SAPS to fight crime.
The security cluster is taking action to deal with the scourge of illegal mining that destabilises and terrorises our communities and undermines our economy.
The Border Management Agency is now operational. This will help to improve the security of our borders and deal with illegal migration and the illicit flow of goods across our borders.
Our ultimate aim is to see a sustained reduction in violence against women and children and an overall decrease in levels of crime more broadly.
Part of our discussions must therefore be about how we complement our actions to strengthen the criminal justice system with effective social mobilisation to ensure that all South Africans are part of the work to end crime and violence.
We need to ensure that we have an integrated and comprehensive response to crime that also attends to the causes of crime and violence in our society.
Strengthen Governance and Public Institutions
Our 2019 Manifesto emphasised the importance of active citizenry and the participation of the people in the process of transformation.
We have taken steps to strengthen the link between the people and state institutions, in all spheres and arms of government with the people.
South Africa has, since 1994, consistently held regular, free and fair elections. The ANC is very proud of this achievement and will continue to do everything in our power to protect the integrity of this democratic exercise.
We have also introduced measures to tackle corruption and patronage in the state, including through oversight visits by Parliament and Legislatures, spot checks in departments, investigations by our Chapter 9 institutions, measurers such as lifestyle audits of public servants and stopping public servants from doing business with government.
In the 2019 Election Manifesto, we committed ourselves to:
“Re-building and renewing a capable and developmental state, re-organising the way government interacts with the people, rebuilding and improving local government, and improving public accountability and responsiveness to the needs and concerns of the people, and rebuilding and improving the local government system.”
Again, we can report progress in several areas.
We continue to promote participatory democracy and in-line with our 2019 Manifesto, we promote improved and regular interactions with communities through government izimbizo and other forms of feedback to the people.
Through the District Development Model, we are seeking to reconfigure the designing, planning and implementation of service delivery. We are seeking to change the relationship between the spheres of government, the communities they serve, and the stakeholders with whom they need to work.
We have amended legislation to improve accountability and reduce corruption at local government. We have adopted a framework for the professionalisation of the public service. We have strengthened the powers of the Auditor-General.
We have also strengthened the monitoring and evaluation function in government, including strengthening performance agreements and monitoring with Ministers and Premiers, as well as the monitoring and evaluation function in the ANC.
Build Unity and Embrace Diversity
Working to unite all South Africans to overcome the divisions of the past and build a country in which all belong, remains a key priority of the ANC. This becomes especially important given our history of apartheid, racism, patriarchy oppression and discrimination.
The ANC re-affirmed our commitment to fighting racism and sexism in our 2019 Manifesto and vowed to advance nation-building and social cohesion.
We continue to implement a range of measures to build social cohesion, some of which include increasingly introducing indigenous languages in public schools, with over 2,400 targeted in this term of government. This aims to foster greater understanding of different cultures between learners and break down cultural barriers.
We continue to celebrate arts and culture, our sporting activities, and holidays to express our diversity in our nation-building process. We welcome the advances, despite extreme odds, that are being made by women in sport and support their demands for equal pay for work of equal value.
The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill was revived in March 2023 and has been published for comment by the NCOP. This will broaden protections against hate speech and hate crimes in our society.
Building a Better Africa and A Better World
South Africa moved from being a pariah state prior to 1994, condemned for human rights violations, to being seen as a reliable and influential partner on our continent and in the world.
The key pillars of democratic South Africa’s foreign policy include the promotion of human rights, peace and stability and the strengthening of trade and investment with other countries.
Our foreign policy aims to promote the national interest based on the well-being, safety and prosperity of our citizens, whilst at the same time working to build a better Africa and a better world.
We advance these values in the United Nations and other multilateral forums, in the African Union and North-South relations, and in forums of the Global South particularly BRICS.
These issues have been priorities in our Manifesto since 1994 and found expression in our programmes in government. The two recent events of the BRICS Political Parties Plus Dialogue convened by the ANC and the BRICS Summit convened by government, attest to this.
South Africa has played an increasingly prominent role in finding solutions to international issues, including leading on the African Leaders’ Peace Initiative to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine and ensure the supply of grain to countries on the African continent.
Guided by the Freedom Charter’s call that “there shall be peace and friendship” South Africa continues to work tirelessly build increased collaboration, and work closely with partners across the world to entrench peace and democracy.
Comrades and compatriots, the South Africa of today is profoundly better than the South Africa under apartheid!
Our task is now to work together to ensure that the South Africa of tomorrow is better than today.
The ANC shall never retreat from the struggle for the fundamental transformation of South Africa to achieve full emancipation and free the potential of each person.
We recall the words of the first president of democratic South Africa, Isithwalandwe/ Seaparankoe Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, when describing the task before us:
“ After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb.”