National Policy Conference
Opening Address by President Jacob Zuma, at the ANC National Policy Conference
26 June 2012
Deputy President Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe,
ANC Officials and Members of the National Executive Committee,
ANC leadership of all structures,
Our Alliance partners and other representatives of the mass democratic movement,
Traditional and religious leaders,
Members of the diplomatic corps and other observers;
Friends and invited guests,
On behalf of the National Executive Committee, let me take this opportunity to welcome all of you to the National Policy Conference of the African National Congress.
The conference takes place during a significant year, the centenary of our movement. And in only six months, we will hold our 53rd National Conference at the birth place of the ANC, Mangaung.
We have a responsibility to discuss and finalise policies that will be put before the national conference at Mangaung.
Those are policies that will take our country forward towards the goal of a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
We thank the drafting team for developing the discussion documents and for ensuring distribution to all ahead of conference.
There has been a lot of debate about the documents, especially Strategy and Tactics and its reference to a Second Transition.
We welcome the debates that have taken place on the proposals as they indicate a great deal of interest in ANC policy making. We look forward to fruitful, open and engaging debates at this conference as well on all the issues.
We pride ourselves in this movement on the culture of internal democracy and engagement.
Comrades, This conference which takes place during the centenary of our movement, provides an opportunity to reflect on the character of the organisation.
In discussing the critical topic of organisational renewal, we will reaffirm the character of the ANC as a disciplined force of the left, with a bias towards the poor and the working class.
The ANC has been the voice of the poor and the marginalised and a parliament of the people since its inception in 1912.
As articulated by the Polokwane conference, the movement evolved over the years into a force for mass mobilisation, a glue that held our people together and a trusted leader of the broadest range of social forces that share the vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
To maintain this character the ANC should be able to cleanse itself of alien tendencies which range from wanton ill-discipline to those linked to incumbency.
These tendencies include social distance, patronage, careerism, corruption and abuse of power; ineffective management of the interface between the movement and the state; a flawed approach to membership recruitment and a decline in ideological depth amongst cadres.
In addition, the National General Council in Durban in 2010 in particular, strongly pronounced on the need to promote and enforce discipline within the ANC, regardless of who the perpetrators were.
The ANC has taken action, and will continue to take action against anyone who crosses the line. We all have a responsibility to maintain the character of the organisation, restore its core values and protect its dignity and integrity.
To further entrench the culture of discipline and in preparation for Mangaung, the policy conference must underscore the movement’s core values of unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates, constructive criticism and self-criticism and mutual respect.
Towards this end, conference must seriously discuss the proposal that the 53rd national conference in Mangaung must adopt a decade-long programme of organisational renewal, running from 2012 to 2022.
This programme must consolidate and expand the character and values of the ANC as a revolutionary peoples’ movement.
The renewal must include the revitalisation of the structures of the movement and to build stronger, united, cohesive and effective ANC branches.
The ANC should also as part of renewal, fast-track the political development of cadres – new and old. In this regard, the organisation should support and strengthen its Leagues and all structures. In our centenary programme, we are this month commemorating the 1940s, the legacy of President AB Xuma and the collective he led. Part of the milestones during that period was the establishment of the ANC Youth League in 1944 and ANC Women`s League in 1943.
The two Leagues have played a heroic role in the struggle for liberation since their establishment, proving the correctness of the decisions taken by the ANC.
We should support, guide and strengthen the ANC Youth League in particular, so that it can continue fulfilling its historical task of being the incubator and preparatory school for future ANC leadership. In its wisdom, the ANC also established a Veteran’s League two years ago. It is expected of the ANC Veterans League to be a custodian of the culture, values and traditions of the organisation. Comrades,
All the victories we have scored in this revolution have been with the support of our Alliance partners.
Therefore, the ANC renewal programme must take into account the need to deepen the relationship with the South African Communist Party and COSATU.
The ANC is also strengthened by the support of the South African National Civics Organisation and Umkhonto Wesizwe Military Veterans Association, cadres who sacrificed all and took up arms in defence of our country and its future.
The ANC has succeeded over the past decades due to its capacity to mobilise other sectors such as business, the faith-based community, non-governmental organisations, community organisations, students, traditional leaders, the international community and the intelligentsia amongst others.
We should continue to mobilise society behind building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Since 1969, the ANC produces a Strategy and Tactics document as a guide and theoretical foundation for our national democratic revolution. In Strategy and Tactics 2012 we request conference to discuss in particular the notion of a Second Transition to economic and social emancipation.
We move from the premise that in only two years we will conclude the second decade of freedom and have to start asking difficult questions about the present and the future.
The first 18 years have been characterised as the first transition of primarily a political nature given the priorities and the conditions at the time of the transition from apartheid and colonial oppression to a free and democratic society.
Having scored many achievements during the first 18 years, there is also widespread consensus that we have been unable to reach the goal of a truly prosperous, inclusive, non-racial and non-sexist society. The triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment persists, affecting Africans, women and the youth in particular.
We are therefore calling for a dramatic shift or giant leap, to economic and social transformation, so that we can be able to deal decisively with the triple challenge.
Amongst underlying causes of the slow pace towards economic freedom, is the fact that ahead of the 1994 breakthrough, we went through a negotiations process at CODESA followed by a negotiated settlement. We had to make certain compromises in the national interest and these were necessary.
For example, we had to be cautious about restructuring the economy, in order to maintain economic stability and confidence at the time.
Thus, the economic power relations of the apartheid era have in the main remained intact. The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males as it has always been.
And what exactly did we achieve during the first transition or the first 18 years of freedom?
On the 27th of April 1994, South Africans voted together for the first time in national general elections and ushered in an era of freedom, democracy, human rights and justice for all.
Building on its rich human rights tradition, the ANC led the process of drafting a new Constitution for the country.
The Constitution reflects the principles contained in the ANC Bill of Rights of 1923, the African Claims document of 1943 and the Freedom Charter of 1955.
The South African Constitution was adopted on 08 May 1996 by an overwhelming 87 percent of the members of the Constitutional Assembly and was certified by the Constitutional Court on 04 December 1996. This was a major victory for the ANC and for our country.
The words of President Nelson Mandela at the signing ceremony in Sharpeville outline the meaning of this milestone. He said; "Let us now, drawing strength from the unity which we have forged, together grasp the opportunities and realize the vision enshrined in this Constitution.
Let us give practical recognition to the injustices of the past, by building a future based on equality and social justice. Let us nurture our national unity by recognizing, with respect and joy, the languages, cultures and religions of South Africa in all their diversity."
We have achieved political stability and have established a fully functional government system. The people govern through choosing a government of their choice every five years through national general elections. We have a Parliament that is vibrant and holds the Executive accountable.
We have an independent judiciary which is a final arbiter in all disputes in our society. Freedom of expression and that of the media are enshrined in our progressive Constitution, which also includes the right to fair labour practices.
We have Chapter 9 institutions which support democracy and protect the rights of citizens.
As part of meaningful political transformation, during the first ten years of democracy, parliament passed 789 laws or amendments, thereby dismantling the apartheid legal framework.
The democratisation of the state, enabling it to provide services to all and not just the minority, led to the visible improvement of the socio-economic conditions of millions of people.
To date, over two and half million houses have been built for the poor. Six million households have gained access to clean water since 1994 and electricity has been connected to nearly five million homes.
Fifteen million South Africans receive social grants, 10 million of whom are vulnerable children.
The social grants remain one of the most effective poverty alleviation mechanisms of government.
Our programmes have also opened the doors of learning. More than eight million children at primary and secondary schools benefit from school-feeding schemes and no fee school policies.
Student loans are being converted into bursaries for qualifying final-year students, while those in further education and training colleges who qualify for financial aid are now exempted from paying fees.
There has been a stabilisation in the number of people living with HIV, after rising since the 1990s.
Nationally, there has been a remarkable reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV from about 8% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2011, thus protecting over 30 000 babies from infection and poor health.
Another major achievement is that as at the middle of last year, 15.1 million people had been tested for HIV voluntarily, and one point seven million were initiated on antiretroviral treatment. We appear to be on track to meet the target of 2.5 million on treatment by 2014.
On peace and stability, crime statistics show a decrease in most crimes, including armed robberies, housebreakings and contact crimes.
Through the implementation of a major infrastructure programme over the years, the ANC government helped to create jobs and protected our communities from the worst effects of the global economic crisis. South Africa made Africa proud, through successfully hosting mega events such as the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup and the United Nations COP 17 climate change conference to name just two.
Internationally, South Africa was reintegrated into the international community and has been invited to join various international forums such as the G20, BRICS and others, given its stature and the manner in which the ANC is regarded in the world.
Comrades, we are definitely proud of the achievements of the first 18 years of freedom.
Very few countries have achieved so much in just under two decades. We had emerged from three centuries of institutionalised and systematic oppression and ill-treatment of black people, described by Madiba as a human disaster that went on for too long, in his statement from the dock. Noting these achievements, the time has come to do something more drastic to accelerate change, towards economic transformation and freedom.
In proposing a radical shift towards economic and social transformation, Strategy and Tactics 2012 implores us to approach the upcoming Mangaung Conference, in a similar fashion as other landmark conferences. These include the founding conference of 1912, the 1949 conference which adopted the militant Programme of Action, the 1969 Morogoro Conference and perhaps also the Kabwe Conference of 1985.
The level of frustration in some communities is high and understandably so. While many have received basic services, many more are still waiting for electricity, water, sanitation, proper roads, trains that run on time all the time, decent housing as well as clinics that have medical staff and medicines in certain areas.
From time to time, people resort to protests to voice their anger which sometimes turn violent. We must caution that while frustrations at erratic delivery are understandable, the destruction of property and resorting to violence will never be tolerated.
Such lawlessness will be dealt with by law enforcement agencies, while on the political side we work to resolve the complaints of our communities. We are assisted in our work by the National Planning Commission with regards to projections and planning for the future.
Last year, the NPC released a diagnostic document stating that the elimination of poverty and inequality are the objectives of a long term plan.
In November last year, the Commission produced a draft National Development Plan covering thirteen areas including job creation, education, health, rural development, citizen safety, economic infrastructure, social protection and South Africa’s place in the region and the world.
What solutions will be brought by the second transition?
To improve government performance, we must develop an effective democratic developmental state. The state has a number of instruments that it can use to improve and drive transformation.
These include the national budget, state-owned enterprises and the macro-economic framework, including policy on monetary, fiscal, labour, industrial policy and trade matters. The ANC must also pay attention to improving the capacity of the public service, at professional, technical, and numerical levels.
The quality of cadres and their understanding of the mission of the ANC must be taken seriously.
On the economy, we need to go back to the basics and take the difficult decisions that we could not take in 1994, with regards to the economy.
As we stated in Polokwane, our most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty is the creation of decent work, and creating work requires faster economic growth.
To achieve this, we must create a thriving mixed economy, where the state, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way to eliminate poverty and foster shared economic growth.
To achieve inclusive and labour absorbing growth, the state must play an active role in the economy, driving development especially in neglected areas. To change the structure, the ANC must democratise and de-racialise the ownership and control of the economy by empowering Africans and the working class in particular to play a leading role.
Despite the liberalisation of the economy, the structure of the apartheid economy has remained largely intact, and has not allowed for higher or inclusive growth.
Our broad-based black economic empowerment strategy and employment equity policies have been successful but have not yielded sufficient results.
Our 2009 election Manifesto put South Africa`s black middle class at 2.6 million in 2007 due to empowerment policies, which is impressive.
However, the wealth is largely obtained through holding shares in existing companies instead of primary production.
Our economic transformation efforts should focus on achieving a rising per-capita income, full employment, and our targets must demonstrate real and visible progress in reducing wealth and income inequalities.
Economic transformation must also entail promoting regional development in Southern Africa, thereby fostering the progressive integration of the region.
The ANC is proposing these policy shifts during a difficult period when growth is slowing down again worldwide due to the Eurozone crisis. Many economic targets will be difficult to attain.
However, while the developed world is in trouble, the rise of the South and other emerging economies provides opportunities.
These include China, India, Brazil, Russia with whom South Africa has struck strategic partnerships in BRICS and IBSA.
In addition, Africa is showing promising signs of growth and is expected to grow by more than five percent over the next few years. This is a cause for optimism.
At a practical and short-term level, there is a lot that we can do and that we are already doing to boost inclusive economic growth and promote youth employment.
Firstly, our education and training system should be the cornerstone of all efforts to radically transform South Africa and build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society, as stated in our January 8 statement.
Therefore we must improve youth access to higher education institutions and internships.
The state must improve its public employment programmes, such as the community work and infrastructure programmes.
The ANC Government launched the New Growth Path in 2010, through which we seek to create jobs in six priority areas.
These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism.
The infrastructure programme has since been elevated to a presidential programme, being coordinated in all three spheres of government under the auspices of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission.
It provides several opportunities for job creation in the improvements of the road networks, water, rail, ports, bridges, schools, hospitals or the refurbishments of airports and mining infrastructure.
Proposals have also been tabled to use our state-owned enterprises and Development Finance Institutions as instruments of economic transformation and skills development especially for the youth.
To date, 9 000 young people being trained by state owned enterprises to become engineers, technicians and artisans.
The economic cluster should also coordinate the absorption of graduates with labour, business and the community sector at NEDLAC.
Already the response of business, labour and the community sector through NEDLAC is encouraging, given the agreements that were signed last year.
The Skills Accord committed partners to enrol at least 30 000 artisan trainees over the next 12 months in training programmes.
The Green Economy Accord committed government and business to ensure that 80% of new employees in the manufacturing and installation of solar-water heating systems and in public works programmes to green the economy, should be the youth.
The Basic Education Accord commits the partners to work together to improve learning and teaching. The Local Procurement Accord committed partners to increase local procurement to promote job creation.
The ANC needs to continue mobilising all sectors to take forward these partnerships.
Conference must also discuss the potential of the small business sector, and how the state can make the bureaucracy managing SMMEs more user friendly. There is a view that our microfinance model is wrong, too bureaucratic and more market driven than developmental.
We urge the private sector in particular to actively support young entrepreneurs through targeted preferential and credit extension programmes.
Comrades, to complement job creation measures, especially for young people actively seeking employment, we propose a job seekers grant for discussion, which is linked to compulsory skills development programmes.
This must be complemented by Development Finance Institutions, state owned enterprises, the National Youth Development Agency and the banking sector.
The ANC Youth League has also proposed that we look at formal programmes of sending young people to other countries for training and exposure. This can be looked at in the context of relations with other countries.
Comrades, On the question of mineral resources we must go deeper than the “nationalise or not nationalise’’ debate as the discussion document indicates.
The Freedom Charter states that the people shall share in the country’s wealth.
In this regard, let us clarify that the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act affirms mineral wealth as a national asset, a common heritage that belongs to all in South Africa and pronounces the State as the custodian thereof.
Therefore, the State exercises sovereignty over the entire mineral and petroleum resources within the Republic.
In the same vein, Article (2)(1) of the United Nations Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, grants States full permanent sovereignty, including possession and disposal over all their natural resources.
We welcome the report of the State Involvement in the Mining Sector (SIMS) and we thank the research team for the hard work.
Conference must deliberate on how the state can obtain an equitable share from the mineral resources and how communities can benefit more from this national resource.
Next year we mark the centenary of the 1913 Natives Land Act, a painful process in the history of our country.
That gross historical injustice was best described by Sol Plaatjie when he said; “Awaking on Friday morning, June 20, 1913 the South African native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth”.
The Constitution of the Republic enjoins the State to take legislative and other measures to enable citizens to gain land rights.
Our position is that the current willing buyer willing seller model must be reviewed. It tends to distort the land market through inflating the prices of land earmarked for restitution.
It makes land reform expensive and delays land redistribution to the poor.
Broad proposals have been placed before conference to enable faster movement on this matter, within the confines of the constitution and the law.
With regards to social transformation in the context of the second transition, conference must also look at broadening the social wage – electricity, education, housing, social security, water and electricity to name a few. Child protection, early childhood development should also receive our attention.
Let us note as well that today, 26 June, is the International Day against Substance Abuse. We must take seriously the discussions about how to eradicate drugs and substance abuse in our society.
With regards to health, conference must reflect on the implementation of Polokwane resolutions to increase life expectancy, decrease maternal and child mortality, combat HIV and AIDS and decrease the burden of disease from Tuberculosis. We must ensure health system effectiveness and prepare for the introduction of the National Health Insurance.
Other social interventions include developing and preserving our arts, culture, sports, heritage and language to promote social cohesion and nation-building. The promotion of African languages in our schools, universities and in public will be a powerful healing and reconciliatory gesture.
Since the formation of the ANC Women’s League in 1943, the ANC has integrated the struggle for liberation with the struggle for the emancipation of women.
The progress we have made in our country so far with regards to gender equity, is due to the hard work of the ANC Women’s League in ensuring the adoption of transformative policies with regards to gender.
Conference must deliberate on the Gender Equality Bill, which advocates the 50/50 parity in the public and private sectors.
Other priority areas are to mainstream gender equity measures across the whole of government; economic empowerment, job creation and sustainable livelihoods for women, rural women’s development and women’s empowerment through skills development.
On peace and stability, delegates must engage on the fight against crime and corruption, the improvement of our national identity system by Home Affairs and the functioning of the courts amongst others.
This conference, and Mangaung, must prioritise the promotion of integrity in leadership and accelerate the fight against corruption.
Our legislature and governance proposals look at how we can strengthen provinces and local government. The two are closer to the people and people in the main judge the ANC based on the performance of the two spheres.
On Science and Technology, the proposal is to increase our gross expenditure on Research and Development as a percentage of GDP, to make the country more competitive so that we can move rapidly into a knowledge economy and information society.
We welcome the creation of the Young Academy of Sciences of South Africa, especially in light of our magnificent victory in winning rights to develop the Square Kilometre Array telescope with Australia.
The discussion document on Communication proposes that a single National Information and Communications Technology Policy Framework be developed.
South Africa is in the process of migrating from analogue to digital transmission and we need to ensure that ICT in our country becomes an enabler. It should be a utility like water and electricity. In addition, every home should be able to have access to the electronic media.
We must also endeavour to spread the base of operation of the entire spectrum that becomes available so that smaller businesses in the sector benefit.
On international relations we continue to place Africa first, especially the promotion of African unity and regional economic integration.
We believe strongly that Africa must determine its own destiny and deal with its matters without outside interference.
We must discuss the post conflict reconstruction and development, peace keeping operations and mediation that we are engaged in.
We continue to derive value from participation in forums such as BRICS, G20, India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) and also in the participation in the United Nations and other multilateral institutions.
Conference must look at how to strengthen global governance, South-South cooperation and North-South relations, parliamentary diplomacy and economic diplomacy.
The ANC is an anti-imperialist organisation and as such, we continue to support the struggles of other organisations that are still fighting for self-determination.
On the Palestinian-Israeli question, our position is that a credible inclusive dialogue must take place on the basis of a two state framework and to encourage unity amongst Palestinians. On the freedom of the people of the Western Sahara, the ANC supports a negotiated settlement with the government of the Kingdom of Morocco under the auspices of the United Nations.
We continue to pledge our solidarity with the government and the people of Cuba and we call for an immediate end to the US embargo on CUBA and support the release of the Cuban five.
We will continue to promote party to party relations especially in Africa. In this regard we extend good wishes to FRELIMO in Mozambique which celebrated its 50th anniversary over the weekend.
Comrades and friends,
The pursuit of the national democratic revolution requires that we be constantly engaged in the ideological struggles, the battle of ideas.
The ANC must lead debates in society and not only be a subject to be debated by others on their own terms. How do we lead this terrain of struggle?
We must also reflect on the perceptions about the organisation in public.
Does the ANC meet people`s expectations and perform as the people want?
How do we build and strengthen trust and continuously renew the connection between the people and their government?
We said in the January 8 statement that we would modernise the ANC. How ready are we to do this by being open to new ideas?
The policy conference should enable us to ponder all these questions.
We have outlined some of the proposals that are being put forward to this conference including the renewal of the organisation and the deepening of social and economic transformation, through embarking on a second transition.
Let us go to the commissions with open minds and engage in the discussions with a view to strengthening and improving ANC policies. We are not doing this for ourselves as ANC members. We are doing it for the country as a whole.
Let us remember as well that all commissions are important and equal.
As we discuss our policy proposals and prepare for the national conference in December, we should not lose sight of the fact that maintaining the unity of the ANC remains paramount. Unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded.
Let us draw lessons from President Oliver Tambo when he informed the 1991 conference on how they kept the ANC together in exile under harsh conditions. He said: "We did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all, we always managed to defend the unity of the ANC and the unity of our people in general".
Let the festival of ideas flourish! I wish delegates a successful conference!