South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference


Closing speech by ANC President Jacob Zuma

20 December, 2007

Cde Chairperson,
Cde Deputy President Motlanthe and all officials,
Members of the incoming of the National Executive Committee,
Leadership of the ANC Women’s League and Youth League,
The leadership of our revolutionary alliance the SACP and Cosatu,
Representatives of fraternal parties in SADC and internationally,
Our honoured veterans,
Representatives of the business community, traditional leaders, religious and other sectors,
Distinguished guests,
Members of the media:

Dumelang, thobela, molweni!

I stand before you with great humility, as the 12th President of the ANC, succeeding an illustrious list of highly capable leaders of our movement, who steered the organization to greater heights.

The incoming NEC collective will do its best to build on the legacy of all past presidents, JL Dube, SM Makgatho, ZR Mahabane, JT Gumede, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, AB Xuma, JS Moroka, AJ Luthuli, OR Tambo, NR Mandela and TM Mbeki.

We have come to the end of our historic 52nd national conference, which has no doubt been a watershed conference in many respects.

The outcomes of this conference are of historical significance and will have a lasting impact in relation to the nature and character of our movement.

The 52nd conference has set the scene for centenary celebrations in 2012. Our theme, Building a caring society: Advance in unity towards 2012, underscores the work that needs to be undertaken in preparation for what will be a colossal milestone for the parliament of the people.

Comrades, I am called upon to lead this multi-class organization and ruling party, succeeding Cde Thabo Mbeki, a comrade, friend and brother. I have known and worked with Cde Mbeki for over 30 years. I must confess I never thought that the two of us would one day compete for the same position in the ANC! however, contesting positions does not make us enemies.

The conference is now behind us and we will continue to work together to unite and build a stronger ANC.

There is likely to be anxiety regarding the existence of two Presidents’ one of state and the other of the party.

There is no reason for uncertainty or fear in any quarter.

Cde Mbeki and I, both as members of the ANC first and foremost will develop smooth working relations between government and the ruling party, assisted by the leadership collective.

We have taken various resolutions at this conference, which will guide us on our way forward. ANC policies, including economic policies that have been adopted at this conference do not indicate a fundamental shift from the policies that the ANC has adopted since it has come into power. Let me reiterate that decisions with regards to policies in the ANC are taken by conference and not by an individual.

There is therefore no reason why the domestic or international business community or any other sector should be uneasy. I tried to calm these fears before the conference during my meetings with various business groupings at home and abroad. Our resolutions on economic matters will bring about closure and certainty on these matters.

We have made it clear that we need more foreign and domestic investment. We also encourage our domestic business community to invest in the local economy to encourage the international counterparts to do the same.

We also remain fully committed to broad based black economic empowerment, to increase participation in our economy.

While encouraging the creation of a conducive environment for investment, we remain cautious not to compromise the

National Democratic Revolution, which is our guiding philosophy in policy formulation and implementation. Our Alliance partners are key stakeholders in policy development and implementation. We will be able to continue to work together as community, business and labour to find workable solutions.

We are also going to sharpen our policy instruments with a view to having a direct impact in the fight against poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment.

Comrades, the conference has taken an important resolution on agrarian revolution, calling for a 30% redistribution of land by 2014 and support for subsistence farming and food security while maintaining a productive agricultural sector.

The interests of the rural poor can only be advanced effectively by the people’s movement, while obviously balancing them with the growth of the commercial agricultural sector.

One of the challenges that has been affecting economic growth and development as well as social stability, is

crime. Our strategy and tactics addresses organized crime as a threat to our democratic order. It is a counter revolutionary force which needs to be eliminated. I therefore call on all ANC branches to actively lead, champion and facilitate crime prevention strategies. We had street committees before. If we were able to defeat vigilantism and the apartheid system, what can stop us from defeating this ugly factor that has tainted our democracy.

All our ANC structures including the two Leagues should also actively participate in the fight against HIV and AIDS in all the facets of the national strategy-prevention, treatment and providing support to families and individuals that are affected and infected. We must live up to our slogan and build a caring society that does not discriminate against those living with HIV and AIDS, while working to prevent infections. This cannot be left to government and the NGO sector alone.

Comrades and friends, we are proud of the fact that we are emerging from Polokwane stronger and ready to heal and unite the ANC and face the present and the future with greater vigour.

In the political and organizational reports, Cde Mbeki, former President of the ANC and Cde Kgalema Motlanthe, former secretary general referred to the many unresolved issues that still plague the organization. The occurrences

of the first day of conference were indicative of internal problems that need to be sorted out without delay. The leadership must not fail to address problems within the organization. A lesson we have learnt from this conference, is that if the leadership fails to resolve issues, or to grasp the feelings of membership on issues that concern the movement and instead appears to perpetuate the problems, the membership takes over and assert its authority in ways that we may not be comfortable with. However we must endeavour to always relate to each other in a comradely manner, regardless of how strongly we feel about issues.

Going forward, we commit ourselves as the incoming NEC collective that we will never allow any problem to go unresolved. Every problem or issue must be discussed thoroughly and be resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Comrades one of the tangible achievements of the conference is that it managed to maintain and restore the ANC philosophy and ideology that the ANC branches are supreme. Delegates came to Polokwane with mandates from branches, and they carried out the mandate they had been given when they cast their votes. With that process having been finalized, we need to remember that this was not an

ANC Conference of victors and losers.

As the newly elected NEC we will endeavour to work with all the comrades who did not make it to this NEC to ensure that the unity of the ANC is strengthened. We are all ANC members who just happened to prefer a different set of leadership collectives as it is our democratic right. It is our collective task to repair whatever damage or harm may have been caused as we were building up towards the conference.

Let me emphasise that the leadership collective will serve the entire membership of the ANC, regardless of whether a person voted for Thabo Mbeki or Jacob Zuma or any other member or leader. We cannot have a Zuma camp or a Mbeki camp, there is only one ANC. None among us is above the organization or bigger than the ANC.

Comrades, the conference has aptly demonstrated the commitment of the ANC to gender equality. We congratulate the ANC Women’s League on its efforts to assert the voice and rights of women in ANC decision making processes. Our Constitution has been unanimously amended to increase the women quota in our structures, from 30 to 50 percent.

In addition, our commitment goes beyond the constitutional amendment. For the first time in our history, we have included a special clause that deals with patriarchal oppression. We have committed ourselves to the creation of the material and cultural conditions that would allow the abilities of women to develop full potential and enrich the life of the nation.

The ANC’s fundamental policies, culture and attitudes are based on anti-racism and anti-tribalism. The election results for the six officials are therefore not surprising, as they demonstrate clearly that those elected had the support of the largest majority of ANC branches throughout the country. They represent people from all racial, class, gender and religious backgrounds. Most importantly, the conference has reminded us that unity is one of the central pillars of our movement.

Our father, stalwart and icon, Isithwalandwe Cde Nelson Mandela outlined the importance of unity eloquently in a message to the ANC in exile after the 1976 uprising.

He said: “Every effort to divide the blacks, to woo and pit one black group against another must be vigorously repulsed. Our people – African, Coloured, Indian and democratic whites must be united into a single massive and solid wall of resistance, of united mass action”. This is not the time for the luxury of division and disunity at all levels. In every walk of life, we must close ranks.

Within the ranks of the people, differences must be submerged to the achievement of a single goal, the complete overthrow of apartheid and racist domination.

In a message sent to the ANC during the Kabwe conference, Madiba again reminded us that unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded. This message was relevant then, it is still relevant to us today. We have to confront the issue of unity in the same manner that Madiba instructed the ANC in 1976 and 1985.

Comrades, this conference has also reaffirmed the need for the continued existence of our Tripartite Alliance. This proves the correctness of the statement made by Inkosi Albert Luthuli when he said that the ANC is the shield and SACTU the spear.

This is the nature of the ANC-SACP-COSATU Alliance relationship. This alliance is based on mutual trust and respect and should be defended and protected by all ANC members. Coming out of this conference we have a clear mandate to build and strengthen the alliance, to nurture it and defend it. We look forward to the Alliance Summit that has been mooted by our Deputy President, Cde Motlanthe.

Comrades, the ANC has always had the fortune of having a vibrant and robust Youth League. The League remains consistent in pursuit of what they believe is right, in defence of the ANC and democracy. The Youth League continues to play its role as a historical agent of change and the source of energy for the ANC.

As stated in the organizational report, the ANC Youth League is a breeding ground for future leaders of the ANC.

This has to be encouraged and maintained for the growth of the organization.

Comrades, the mandate arising from this 52nd conference is clear: As a collective and through our structures, we need to create a united ANC that recognizes the legacy left by comrades OR Tambo, Albert Luthuli and Nelson Mandela.

We need to heal the ANC. We must also work with government and other sectors to build a caring society. Most importantly, we need to position our branches and structures at the centre of the NDR, because the ANC is a people centred and people driven organization.

We must strengthen democracy through making the ANC the leader of development and service delivery. We must build the capacity of our branches, so that they can drive and influence the development of their local communities. We have to strengthen the relationships with organized business so that we continue growing the South African economy. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do.

Let me extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Limpopo Province and the University of Limpopo for their excellent hospitality. I am delighted that the 52nd conference of the ANC was held in Limpopo, as this province is the home of the former President of the ANC, Cde Sefako Mapogo Makgatho who led the movement from 1917 to 1924.

Cde Makgatho came from GaMphahlele. The province is also home to many outstanding cadres of our movement, such as Peter Nchabeleng, Elias Motsoaledi, Lawrence Phukanuka, Ntante Mampuru, Mark Shope, Cde Maleka, Flag Boshielo and Makgapatona. The younger generation included Peter Mokaba, Ignatius Mathebula, Ngoako Ramalepe, Frank Mohlala and Norman Mashabane. We also warmly welcome Limpopo veterans such as TT Tsholo, Ike Maphoto, Josh Phala, Parapara Mothupi, John Nkadimeng, Nelson Diale and Rashaka Ratshitanga.

Our most sincere gratitude is extended to our comrades and friends in fraternal parties in SADC such as SWAPO, FRELIMO, MPLA and ZANU-PF and others. We also thank the representatives of international fraternal parties such as the Communist Party of Cuba, and others who graced the conference. I hope they all witnessed how internal democracy plays itself out in the ANC.

Most importantly, we salute isithwalandwe, Madiba whose message of support inspired and encouraged us. We look forward to his continued support and guidance.

Comrades and friends, the incoming NEC and I accept the mandate you have given us with a full understanding that you can withdraw it at any time, if you feel that we are not serving you in a manner that you want to be served.

That is the essence of democracy. Leaders lead through the will and graciousness of the people.

To those Muslim citizens of our country, who are today celebrating the day of Eid, I wish you Eid Mubarak and a blessed and joyous day.

We also wish all the delegates a safe journey home, a joyous festive season and prosperous New Year.