ANC Deputy President, Cde DD Mabuza, 106th Anniversary Gala Dinner
27 January, 2018
Members of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress,
Provincial Chairperson of the African National Congress,
Provincial Leadership of the African National Congress,
Leaders of the Alliance,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I greet you all!
It is an honour for me to be afforded this opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the National Officials and the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress.
This is part of our annual celebrations that any member of the ANC is proud to partake in.
As we meet to celebrate this milestone, we are saddened by the passing on earlier this week of a great South African – Bra Hugh Masekela. We honour him for his contribution to our struggle, especially for the role he played in campaigning for international isolation of the apartheid South Africa.
To him music was a platform to promote culture and a fight against injustice and oppression. We salute his bravery and we pass our deepest condolences to his family, friends, fans and all those who collaborated with him in making songs that inspired us in our fight for freedom.
On 13 January 2018, we held our 106th year celebration in East London after a visit undertaken by our National Officials and other leaders of the ANC to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape wherein we laid wreath at the graves of our former presidents in what we have referred to as our pilgrimage of renewal.
We also used that occasion to meet and interact with the kings and other traditional leaders as well as leaders of faith.
During these engagements, we witnessed the membership and supporters of the ANC coming out in their numbers to the anniversary celebration. This demonstrates the rejuvenation of our glorious movement and an expression of confidence that the people of South Africa have in the ANC as a leader of society.
This augurs well on the strides we have made as the ANC in government and an expression of confidence that the outcomes of the 54th National Conference, are resonating with the aspirations of South Africans. We have confined to history any pessimism to our call for unity in our ranks.
Some had predicted a collapse of the conference. It was asserted that the fractures were so deep and that the ANC will fail to discuss issues of importance to our country in a manner that is dignified and responsive to the current situation faced by the majority.
The success of that conference was not only in holding it under a peaceful environment, but was the robustness of the debates we had and the relevance of resolutions we reached.
Its success is also in the democratic nature of our internal processes and the peaceful manner we conducted our elections of the leadership collective representative of different strengths, qualities and approaches to issues.
This is a leadership collective that is fully seized with the challenges facing our country, and the kind of leadership that the ANC should provide to broader society.
At Nasrec, the ability of the ANC to self-correct, was demonstrated. This is one of the traits and character of the ANC that has helped this movement to constantly build itself as the true and legitimate carrier of the hopes and aspirations of South Africans.
The conference resolutions and the programme that the NEC outlined in the January 8 Statement, take us on a right path of unity, renewal and job creation.
The wrong predictions made by various commentators and our political opponents, highlights some of the challenges that the ANC needs to attend to. Chief among these, is to engage with various stakeholders in society so that people have a clearer understanding of why the ANC take certain resolutions, and why it arrives at positions that it takes on various matters.
Unfortunately, some of the criticism is as a result of successes we have registered in improving the lives of South Africans, and of making our country a better place than what we inherited.
Whilst we must always self-introspect whenever we are criticized. However, at times the criticism directed at us is influenced by a lack of robust engagement with our policy proposals by those in positions of influence of public opinion.
In other words, we are largely bombarded by poorly arrived at, opinion making on secondary views than opinion making on real issues drawn from primary documents and processes of the ANC on what we propose as practical steps to effect radical socio-economic transformation.
The commentary that comes through from those that are generally engaged by media as opinion makers, seem to be superficial as it does not demonstrate deeper insight and understanding of what is the objective reality.
If the analysis would be done objectively, such an approach will enrich the process of policy making in our country as it will ensure that broader society help in sharpening what we need to do in taking our country forward.
As an example, there is consensus in the country on the need to embark on large scale industrialization programme that intensifies manufacturing in order to stimulate the economy and move away from dependency on the mining and energy complex.
However, there is absence of sound critique of government’s industrial policy by intellectuals in order to sharpen our efforts to fast-track industrial development and economic transformation.
We view the holding of this gala dinner, as a platform for the ANC to interact with business, professionals, intelligentsia and other sectors of society.
Without such platforms, the ANC and these sectors themselves, will have major limitations that would rob our government of independent critique of its policies.
It will also rob us of a platform to engage in building opportunities to promote strategic partnerships between the ANC, government and other critical stakeholders in society like private sector and professional bodies and intelligentsia.
As the NEC, we have resolved to go to every corner of our country and engage in a manner that enhances existing channels of communication with every sector of society.
We must agree that as a country we are confronted with a serious challenge of leadership across various sectors of society. We seem to be engaging on issues from a sectarian point of view that is largely party political and not in promotion of a united approach towards building a united country. We can differ politically based on the policies we hold and pursue, but we must all unite behind the flag, and prioritise our national interests.
As the ANC, we value the role of business in building a South Africa that Nelson Mandela had envisioned. The realities of poverty, unemployment and inequality, can best be tackled if all of us in the ANC, in government, business and labour, work in partnership.
We have resolved to embark on a radical socio-economic transformation programme. This is meant to comprehensively respond in changing the status quo for the better. If we are to build a truly democratic and equal society, it is a right thing to do. Anything else, will be to nothing but an act of burying our heads in the sand.
It was Oliver Tambo who taught us of the importance of ensuring that our political judgement must be intimately involved with the people. We remain an organisation committed to building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Therefore, the task we are confronted with as we soldier on, is of building unity of purpose around that core vision not only within our own ranks, but across our nation in order to achieve a country in which the dreams and aspirations of our people can find expression and be nurtured to fulfilment.
The masses of South Africa must see their hopes and aspirations finding expression in what we do, in how we behave and in how we conduct ourselves.
In engaging in our political programme of transformation of society, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the plight of the majority of our country who remain poor and are on the margins of mainstream economy. That is why your role in business, is to work with our government to grow the economy and create better opportunities for jobs and wealth creation.
The crisis of unemployment should be arrested soon otherwise it will explode on all of us. We must be resolute in changing the lives of the masses of our country, and together through a workable social compact, be firm in advancing programmes that would lead to economic growth and job creation.
That is what our leaders like Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela, Walter and Albertina Sisulu stood for.
Last week, the National Executive Committee joined by the ANC deployees in government and its agencies, met to develop a programme of implementation by our government.
We engaged in robust discussions that looked at what are practical interventions to be employed in the execution of our programme in a manner that responds to issues of reigniting the economy. We agreed that we need to address all bottlenecks that lead to policy uncertainty, which impact negatively to both domestic and foreign investment.
Some of the issues identified, are about improving governance and efficiencies of our State-Owned Enterprises. We directed government to address all such issues to build confidence that will encourage investment in the economy.
Other issues that inhibit growth nation of goods for state procurement from SMMEs, were identified and necessary interventions to address any such impediment to growth, will be addressed.
When we went to the people of South Africa in 2014, we committed to a set of priorities we will pursue over the term of the current Administration. Much progress has been made, but much more still needs to be done.
At the NEC Lekgotla, we thus reached a consensus that as much as we have made great strides, we have not been fully effective in implementing our policies to achieve what we had intended to address. We therefore need to implement what is lagging behind with speed.
Of course, this past Lekgotla took place as we marked the end of the Centenary celebrations of the life and times of Comrade Oliver Tambo. A distinguished man, who led the African National Congress during a difficult period in our struggle.
Today, we speak of South Africa as a democracy where all of its people enjoy political freedoms and civil liberties, due in part of the contribution and sacrifices made by Tambo and his generation.
For this year, we will be celebrating the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, who we are deeply indebted to their sacrifices.
We also pay tribute to leaders like Collins Chabane and Peter Mokaba, who hail from this Province. Like the generation of leaders that came before them, they explored new ways of continuing the struggle. They radicalised the ANC and brought disciplined militancy.
I am encouraged to see young people in our movement and those in other leadership positions in society, who are demonstrating deep understanding of the complex stage of the struggle that we have entered and an understanding of the burden of poverty experienced by the majority of our people.
This understanding is critical in appreciating the cost of the path we are taking and the sacrifices that must be made if we are to successfully implement radical socio-economic transformation.
Our success in implementing the decision to implement free tertiary education for students from poor families, will contribute significantly in lifting many out of poverty.
As an elected official of the African National Congress, I have no doubt that the outcomes of our 54th National Conference, take us a step forward towards building a better South Africa.
As business people and various professionals of all persuasion, you must be at the forefront and actively participate in this economic emancipation project.
This should be anchored on building a thriving agricultural and agro-processing sector, industrialization, manufacturing, mineral beneficiation and opportunities presented by Information Communication Technology.
As we go forward, the success in how we manage internal contradictions within the ANC, including how these find their expression both in our policy platform and programmes, would be critical to stability. This is a fundamental ingredient for economic growth and development.
We also have to deal with backward practices and sentiments of racism, chauvinism and tribalism that has potential to undermine this forward march. We are one nation and must therefore work together to find solutions to all our challenges. We must together build a country of our dreams.
As a nation, we must draw leadership lessons from the characters of OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela that will empower us to navigate the prevailing challenges and obstacles we face as a nation.
Our success would largely be shaped and informed by our willingness to confront prevailing issues of our time with vigor and determination.
We must always acknowledge that our past is still manifestly alive. Its remnants of economic marginalization of the majority, remain present.
Our progress will be made and realised when all those committed in building a just and equitable society, are mobilised into collective action of building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa – where all of us live in full enjoyment of human freedom.
For that to be realised, the ANC needs the support of all those who care about the future of our country. This includes support through funding by those in business who believe in this course.
Our professionals and the intelligentsia should assist by availing support through institutions they are leading, which can be used as interlocutors to address various issues we are confronting as a country.
Let us agree that we have now entered an election season. Every decision we make, will naturally come under scrutiny even if there are no substantive differences over them.
As the ANC, we remain energized and committed to serving the people of South Africa.
I thank you for listening!