Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 105th Anniversary of the African National Congress
Comrades, Compatriots, Friends and fellow South Africans.
The African National Congress turns 105 years old today.
This tremendous achievement is the result of the dedication, sacrifice and hard work of millions of people, in South Africa and across the world, who acted in unity to ensure that we can live in a free South Africa. Many of you present here today are part of those who fought alongside the ANC and the broad Mass Democratic Movement to achieve the freedoms we enjoy today. This celebration is your celebration, your victory
Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo would have celebrated 100 years of age had he lived until 2017. We dedicate this year – his centenary – to him. President Tambo served as president of our Movement from 1967 to 1991 and is regarded as the glue that held the many facets of the ANC together during the difficult years in exile. Comrade OR united the Movement by listening and engaging with the concerns of comrades, by staying true to the core values of the ANC and through displaying great integrity and discipline in serving his people.
We recall the words of Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe President Nelson Mandela at the funeral of comrade OR: “ …Oliver lived because he had surrendered his very being to the people. He lived because his very being embodied love, an idea, a hope, an aspiration, a vision.
While he lived, our minds would never quite formulate the thought that this man is other than what the naked eye could see. We could sense it, but never crystallise the thought that with us was one of the few people who inhabited our own human environment, who could be described as the jewel in our crown. I say that Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals for which he sacrificed his life can never die.”
We also honour one of the great heroes of liberation struggles throughout the world, Commandante Fidel Castro, who passed away on 25 November 2016. The ANC takes this moment to, once again, express our appreciation to the people of Cuba for sharing their son with the world. His legacy lives on!
All cadres of the Movement must emulate the historic examples of President OR Tambo and Comrade Fidel Castro to influence our ongoing selfless service to the people.
OLIVER REGINALD TAMBO – A TRUE SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE AND EMBODIMENT OF THE PURSUIT OF THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION.
Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe Oliver Reginald Tambo was born on 27 October 1917 and he spent most of his life serving his people. Comrade OR led our Movement through some of its most difficult times and under conditions of extreme oppression and persecution.
The ANC has remained resolute in our determination to liberate the people of South Africa and we have been consistent – for more than one hundred years – about our strategic objective to put in place a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa. Working with the people, we will continue to adapt our strategies and tactics to respond to the prevailing material conditions. The ANC pledges to you that we will continue to fight for the creation of a National Democratic Society, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty! President Tambo was grounded in this revolutionary theory and he was consistently clear about the ANC’s commitment to the National Democratic Revolution. He highlighted, at the 72nd anniversary of the ANC in 1984, that the “future belongs to the majority of the people of South Africa, black and white, who, in struggle, are today laying the foundations of a united, non-racial, democratic South Africa in what will then, but only then, become a peaceful and rapidly advancing region of Africa.”
The ANC believes that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, united in our diversity. Our struggle, however, has always been about the liberation of the oppressed majority; blacks in general and Africans in particular. This requires concrete action by all sectors of society and all the people of South Africa to ensure that we are fully liberated and contribute to becoming a ‘peaceful and rapidly advancing region of Africa.’
We salute the courage and commitment demonstrated by the more than 600 South African Native Labour Corps soldiers who perished, 100 years ago, when SS Mendi sunk in the English Channel. These soldiers were compelled to assist the British Army in the First World War. The sacrifice of these soldiers is a reminder of our brutal past and highlights that South Africans must celebrate the tremendous strides we have made towards building a National Democratic Society, a society that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous. The plight of these soldiers is starkly illustrated by the words of Reverend Isaac Wauchope Dyobha who perished aboard the SS Mendi.
“Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do…you are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers…Swazis, Pondos, Basotho…so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war-cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our assegais in the kraal, our voices are left with our bodies.”
We have not yet achieved all our goals. Our society is still plagued by instances of racism and pervasive sexism and patriarchy. We can do more to promote democracy and too many people are still living in poverty. One of our biggest challenges is to build unity and to celebrate our diversity. We have a revolutionary duty to eradicate poverty, address joblessness and fight ever-pervasive inequality!
The National Democratic Revolution (NDR) continues. We pursue our revolution in conditions that are not of our own choosing. These conditions impact on our ability to attain our goals. Ideological and political clarity is a necessary prerequisite for any revolution to succeed. We must have a scientific understanding of the evolving balance of forces, both globally and domestically. We must be united around the strategy and tactics required to attain our goals.
The ANC must have unity of purpose and display unity in action in advancing the NDR! The ANC must concentrate on radical economic transformation and ensure that the people become more prosperous. We must grow the economy, create jobs and return the land to our people!
Comrade OR consistently emphasised the importance of having maximum political and organisational unity.
The period prior to the 1969 Morogoro Consultative Conference was a period of unhappiness for our Movement. The leadership of the ANC, headed by President Tambo, discussed issues frankly and in a comradely manner and showed great willingness to address the concerns raised by members. The ANC emerged from the Morogoro Conference much stronger and more united. This renewed unity of purpose allowed President Tambo to sum up the Conference with the following words.
“Close Ranks! This is the order to our people; our youth; the army; to each Umkhonto we Sizwe militant; to all our many supporters the world over. This is the order to our leaders; to all of us. The order that comes from this conference is: Close Ranks and Intensify the Armed Struggle!”
The ANC’s 1985 Kabwe Conference was a watershed conference, which reasserted the democratic nature of the ANC even under the most extreme conditions of repression and persecution. Kabwe entrenched non-racialism in the organisational culture of the movement by opening up leadership to comrades from all races. Our Movement developed clear tasks for the intensification of all forms of struggle – mass mobilisation, armed operations, underground organisation and international solidarity work. The Kabwe Conference also emphasised the importance of utmost unity in order to defeat the regime and liberate the people.
Like comrade OR, cadres of the Movement must be inspired by the spirit of unity that informed the signing of the Three Doctors Pact. Seventy years ago, the ANC, the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC) and the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) pledged mutual support for one another’s campaigns. Doctors Xuma, Dadoo and Naicker, the presidents of the respective organisations, signed the Pact, which represented the beginnings of the Congress Alliance.
These three leaders were clear that the success of our revolution depended on showing unity and discipline in the face of heinous oppression. We salute them.
Today, our Movement faces serious challenges to its unity. Divisive tendencies such as factionalism, gatekeeping and manipulation of internal processes exist at all levels of the ANC, the ANC Leagues, the Alliance and the Mass Democratic Movement. These tendencies inhibit our ability to give decisive leadership to society.
The people have told us that we are too busy fighting each other and we do not pay sufficient attention to their needs. Our own research and interactions with members of the ANC demonstrate clearly that the people abhor the apparent preoccupation with personal gain. People are clear: their main priorities are jobs, fighting crime and corruption. Our task is therefore to grow the economy, create jobs and rigorously fight crime and corruption.
Above all, we must commit to the unity of the ANC and the only noble fight that we must engage in is a fight to serve the people and not ourselves! We must learn from President OR and continue to demonstrate to the people, in word and in deed, that the ANC remains the organisation most capable of leading South Africa. The ANC must unite so that we are able to unite the people against our common enemies – unemployment, poverty and inequality.
ANC Leagues are at the coalface of representing the specific interests of their constituencies within the Movement. They have the additional responsibility of uniting these constituencies behind the NDR.
We depend on the ANC Youth League to mobilise young people and to act as a preparatory school for members of the ANC. The Youth League must emulate the spirit of comrades who launched the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) 30 years ago. They must mobilise and unite young people. The youth of today are more connected to each other and the world with the advance of communications and information technology. They are therefore more informed about local and global events and the ANCYL must attract young activists, from all sectors, to strengthen our Movement.
Our youth must seize the moment and promote discussion, the flourishing of ideas and practice strict organisational discipline and democracy. This is the legacy of OR Tambo. Members of the Youth League must take heed of the courage shown by comrades such as Ashley Kriel, who like the people’s hero Solomon Mahlangu of the 1976 generation, sacrificed their lives for us to enjoy the freedom that we take for granted today. This young MK soldier was shot to death by the Apartheid security forces 30 years ago.
The women of this country, throughout the ages, have proven to be strong and resilient in the face of challenges and triumphs.
“Mmangwana o tshwara thipa ka fa bogaleng.” (Mothers catch or hold a knife by its sharp edge.)
Oliver Tambo’s vision of building a strong mass organisation of women to ensure the total liberation of our society must be realised by the ANC Women’s League. Together, we must continue to lead the struggle to dismantle the structures of patriarchal oppression.
The ANC Veterans League must be a source of wisdom and guidance for the Movement. Veterans are the repository of years of organisational wisdom and knowledge and the ANC can only benefit when veterans and stalwarts take a more active role in shaping the next generation of leaders. We call on our veterans and stalwarts to become more active in the structures of the Movement and, in particular, to become more active in political education at all levels of our organisation.
We commemorate the bravery and unity of the Luthuli Detachment which participated in the Wankie and Sipolilo campaigns, which were launched 50 years ago. Combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) crossed into the then Rhodesia and took on the military might of white domination in fierce combat.
Comrade OR, during a tribute to comrade Moses Mabhida, highlighted the importance of recognising that the “durability of the alliance between the ANC, the Communist Party and the trade union movement lay in strengthening each as an independent organisation” that respected one another within the context of “revolutionary unity and interdependence.”
We inherited this strategic Alliance, which was forged in the crucible of struggle and we dare not be cavalier in how we treat one another and our Alliance. Our task is to unite the Alliance, to guard it jealously and to not tear ourselves apart. It is up to us to recognise that the Alliance remains vital to mobilise and unite the broadest cross section of people behind the goals of the NDR. Let us develop joint campaigns and programmes to take our struggle forward.
ANC cadres know that we must be united and show unity of purpose to work together for the success of the NDR. Unity is the fundamental prerequisite for ensuring that we achieve our goals and succeed in addressing the challenges facing our society. We must work for this unity in a concrete manner. ANC branches must be open to all who will abide by the values of the Movement and are willing to serve the people. Our structures must serve as dynamic and living forces for uniting communities and we repeat that there is space in the ANC for everyone!
When the ANC says that we must unite; we do not speak of unity for its own sake. We are clear that we are not calling for unity in defence of corruption or other negative tendencies. The ANC calls for unity in pursuit of the NDR!
We must guard against distrust, which breeds disunity and has begun to creep into our broader body politic. The conduct of some elected representatives in Parliament, various legislatures and other platforms illustrate that the various political parties seem to be unable to disagree without such disagreements descending into ugly and immature displays. Leaders across the political divide must foster agreement around the need for all South Africans to unite for the sake of our country and our future. We can disagree as South Africans and still engage one another respectfully. The people elect us to represent them and their interests and we must perform these duties with honesty, integrity and mutual respect.
South Africans must be united in working together to create a better life for all. Building South Africa will require compromise and sacrifice from every single one of us. We call on all South Africans to contribute, each according to his or her ability. We call on the private sector to work with government and organised labour to increase their contribution in areas such as manufacturing and construction. This will create more jobs. We call on artists, athletes, academia, the faith-based sector and other civil society formations to work hand-in hand with the ANC in strengthening the nation. Let us together build our nation!
South Africa is a sovereign, democratic country. Our country is one national asset, which is our common heritage. We must be united in promoting and jealously guarding our national interests.
(B) A PROSPEROUS SOCIETY
President Tambo often emphasised that the ANC has a vision of South Africa in which black and white live in conditions of peace and prosperity. The struggle for economic freedom and prosperity of all South Africans underpins all our actions during this phase of our transition. Prior to the global crisis, South Africa’s economy was growing at an average of nearly 4 per cent. Millions of jobs were created. Basic service provision was expanding and so was social welfare inclusion. We were making rapid strides on eradicating poverty, joblessness and inequality. We were on course to delivering on a promise of a more socially just society.
The global economic recovery is currently very unstable. Consequently, as we are connected into the global economic system, we have been impacted negatively. Growth is slow or negative in major developed and developing economies. Investment by private sector is, particularly in the developing countries, low. Trade between countries has fallen. Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have slowed to 1.4 per cent in 2016 from 3.4 per cent in 2015.
The ANC is optimistic that the 2017 growth forecast of 2.9 per cent will be achieved.
Education and skills are fundamental requirements for creating a prosperous society. The ANC is inspired by the great intellect of Comrade OR and celebrates this teacher through appreciating the importance of mathematics and science.
The ANC government has made great strides in providing quality basic education. We are proud of the fact that we are making gradual, but steady, progress in areas such as learner retention, performance in mathematics and science, the number of bachelor passes and the performance of learners in rural and township schools.
The ANC commends learners, parents and teachers for their dedication and congratulates the class of 2016. We celebrate the fact that of all the learners who sat the 2016 matric exams, 76. 2% passed.
The ANC is especially proud of the Free State, which achieved a staggering 93.2% pass rate. It is equally commendable that an increasing number of the top performing learners are from fee-free public schools. The above is a clear illustration that our pro-poor policies work! This is your victory!
Our successes in basic education add to the legitimate demands for quality and affordable post-school education. We agree, on a fundamental level, that we must achieve our goal of the progressive realisation of free education for the poor and working class, as per the prescripts of the Freedom Charter.
Central to South Africa’s higher education funding crisis is a university system that is grossly underfunded, small in size and where education is increasingly sold as a commodity. The financial burden is increasingly transferred to poor and working class families, in particular. In line with the prescripts of the Freedom Charter that “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit,” the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) currently covers over 75% of students in tertiary institutions. We have also introduced measures to alleviate the burden on students whose families earn up to R600 000 a year, the so-called ‘missing middle’. During the last financial year, our government has spent just over R9 billion to assist students from poor and working class families.
The provision of a fully subsidised free university education for new university entrants from poor and working class families in 2017 is expected to cost the state slightly less than R6 billion.
The Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training, led by Justice Heher, will make final recommendations on the long-term funding of higher education and training. As we wait for the commission to conclude its work in the next few months, we expect all higher education stakeholders and government to speak with one voice.
Addressing poverty, inequality and unemployment is our key task. We shall therefore work tirelessly to overcome these three challenges. 2017 will be the year where we take more decisive steps to promote greater economic inclusion and advance black people’s ownership, control and real leadership of the economy.
It is very encouraging that, as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP), various sectors of society are increasingly working together to ensure our prosperity. Government, business and labour have shown that, through working together, we can promote national interests and make a difference in the economy.
South Africans have shown tremendous spirit and patriotism in all endeavours to maintain our country’s sovereign credit rating and we commend every person who contributed to avoiding a credit downgrade. The ANC reiterates that our economic strategy must be aimed at finding an appropriate balance between meeting our developmental objectives and promoting inclusive growth. We make a call on all South Africans to contribute constructively to discussions about our future economic trajectory; keeping in mind our goals of radical socio-economic transformation, meeting basic needs, attaining more inclusive growth and reducing public debt.
The ANC remains committed to putting in place a decent and living wage for all. The ANC is encouraged by the deliberations currently underway between the social partners on the proposal of a floor wage of R3 500 a month. This is not a living wage, but is a starting point below which no employer should pay workers. An agreement on the minimum wage will reduce wage inequality and fulfil the demand made by our people 62 years ago when the Freedom Charter was adopted. We encourage South Africans to participate in the discussions aimed at reaching consensus about the eventual figure of the national minimum wage.
As the governing party, the ANC must use the levers of state power to transform the economy and improve the lives of our people. It has a duty to use government incentives, procurement, infrastructure investment and other measures to create new industries and expand existing industries. Doing so will increase ownership of the economy by the black majority. The ANC government must use the measures available through initiatives like the black industrialists programme to develop township and rural economies and to create jobs for our people.
The manufacturing sector can be a catalyst for transforming the economy and creating jobs. This is illustrated by the fact that this sector created more than 7 000 new jobs during the first six months of 2016.
We call on South Africans, and in particular young, black and female entrepreneurs, to take advantage of all the programmes and incentives and to help turn South Africa into a bustling hub of industrialisation and manufacturing. We must boldly turn our country into a construction site! In 1984, Comrade OR made a call to make South Africa ungovernable and to make Apartheid unworkable. This call was met with great enthusiasm and vigour by the oppressed people of our country. Thirty years ago, in 1987, workers demonstrated the power of people acting in unity and the South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union (SARHWU) organised a strike at over 350 depots. The NUM embarked on its biggest ever strike when nearly 360 000 workers went on strike for three weeks. Postal workers, workers at OK Bazaars and auto-workers also went on strike. The bosses and the Apartheid regime responded to these workers with brutal violence and oppression. Lives were lost, many were injured and thousands were retrenched.
We are encouraged by the recent rise in commodity prices and are relatively confident that our mining sector will begin to show an improvement in the near future. The ANC expects to see an increase in production and growth in job creation.
We shall remain vigilant in ensuring that mining communities benefit from mining activities in their areas and the ANC proposes that all stakeholders engage on how to utilise beneficiation more effectively to ensure economic growth and job creation.
It has been five years since the 2012 Marikana Tragedy wherein 44 people were killed. The ANC, once again, extends its condolences to the families of those killed. We re-commit to our ongoing efforts aimed at improving the social and economic conditions in all mining areas. The ANC calls on mining houses to give greater effect to the obligations undertaken in their social and labour plans and to work more closely with government and organised labour in this regard.
It is time to return the land to our people. Our land reform and land redistribution programmes have shown measurable success. However, too many of our people continue to suffer from the historic injustice perpetrated by the horrendous land dispossessions. We must show courage and determination to ensure that the land is returned to the people.
One of the legacies of the heinous land dispossessions was that the majority of the people occupied only 13% of the land. Today, large tracts of land still remain in the hands of very few people. The peasantry is left with a shrinking land mass to eke a living. We repeat that it is our duty to return the land to the people.
The Constitution allows for the expropriation of land for a public purpose and in the public interest. This year, we shall begin to utilise the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution, with greater speed and urgency, following the prescripts of our Constitution.
It is vitally important that we carefully plan the utilisation of land in urban areas and rural communities. Haphazard land grabs will have a negative effect on our ability to plan for the productive use of the land. The ANC began a programme of handing over title deeds to beneficiaries and we call on our government, at local, provincial and national levels, to accelerate this programme. This programme is especially important in that it gives measurable assets to the affected beneficiaries, especially the urban poor.
Despite the severe drought, agriculture and agricultural production managed to make a significant contribution to our GDP and net exports during the last year. The ANC urges government to continue supporting this sector in mitigating the impact of the drought. We are convinced that there will be an upswing in growth and that the sector will continue to contribute to economic development and the creation of jobs.
The NDP notes that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have a vital role to play in advancing key national objectives, particularly through providing economic and social infrastructure. The ANC calls on government to strengthen measures aimed at supporting the SOEs in delivering on their developmental mandates. We commend the fact that government is putting in place initiatives such as the Presidential SOE Coordinating Council to ensure that all activities of the SOEs are aligned to the programme of government.
South Africa has experienced less load shedding since 2015 and we commend Eskom for the stabilisation of the electricity grid. Continued stabilisation together with the addition of new capacity will have positive effects on our economic growth and create new jobs.
The ANC pledges to South Africans that we shall continue to balance the need for clean energy sources with ensuring security of supply. In this regard, we are still committed to ensuring that expanding nuclear capacity for energy will only take place at a pace and cost that the country can afford. We are also committed to expanding renewable energy capacity and initiating ongoing projects to advance its use.
The ANC welcomes ongoing programmes aimed at restoring dignity to the lives of our people. One of our government’s most successful programmes has ensured that more than 22 million people have been provided with housing over the last two decades. We are proud of the fact that more than half of these beneficiaries have been women. In real numbers, this translates to more than 4.3 million houses and subsidies. Recipients of government housing are urged to retain ownership and not sell these assets.
We are creating and developing new communities throughout South Africa. We shall create entrepreneurs and jobs by supporting SMMEs and cooperatives operating in this sector.
The construction of new clinics and community health centres has multiple benefits. Many jobs are created during such construction and the affected communities will eventually have new medical facilities. The ANC calls on government and large construction companies to partner with SMMEs and cooperatives in building public facilities such as clinics, schools, libraries, roads and others.
We are rightfully proud of the increase in average life expectancy from 60 years in 2012 to 62.9 years in 2014. This massive improvement in life expectancy is largely due to the success of our fight against HIV and AIDS.
At the same time, we are concerned about the rate of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women between 15 and 24 years. Research conducted in 14 Southern and East African countries (including South Africa) estimate that there are 5 000 new infections a week among young women aged 15 to 24.
The ANC calls on all South Africans to participate in the newly launched “whole government, whole society” campaign that aims to reduce new infections among young women aged 15 to 24 years. Young girls and boys must focus on their future as the next generation of leaders in our society, the next generation of entrepreneurs, the next generation of a productive and active workforce, the next generation of teachers, lawyers and teachers. We encourage communities to safeguard our most valuable asset, our children.
The year 2017 will bring new opportunities to transform our economy – but also new challenges. The spirit of Comrade Oliver Tambo requires all of us, – black and whites, rich middle class and poor, young and old, men and women – to radically change the way we manage and steer our economy. Let us show the world that despite a complex and uncertain global situation, we can radically transform this economy.
Building a non-racial society is a necessity in a country as diverse as South Africa. It does not matter where we came from. We are all here now. The humanist approach of the ANC is that all people are equal. Respect for the inherent humanity and dignity of all people, especially the historically oppressed majority, must inform all our actions.
Complete disrespect for human rights and the dignity of all people was evident in the brutal torture and murder of Steve Biko by the Apartheid security police 40 years ago.
Apartheid entrenched artificial division and distrust between the people based on race and ethnicity. This “divide and rule” tactic was transplanted from colonialism and its legacy continues to plague our society. South Africa and the world have seen an upsurge in incidents of overt racism and discrimination. Heinous racist acts, such as the coffin incident involving Victor Mhlotshwa and the trauma caused to this young man, who merely walked across a farm owned by white South Africans, should raise our consciousness about violence based on race and class.
Reports of racism in the hospitality industry and on social media are indications that racists have become more emboldened. The ANC is convinced that such incidents are indicative of a persistent challenge and must be fought with all our energy. We cannot allow our society to go backwards to a situation where we view each other with distrust based on race.
A worrying trend that has re-emerged over the last couple of years is that of narrow ethnic and tribal nationalism. This is a dangerous phenomenon and has the potential to undermine our social and national cohesion. We will not allow political disagreements to be portrayed in terms of race and apparent ethnic or regional differences. This upsurge of racism and ethnic or tribal nationalism has the potential to divide our country and return us to a situation of racial and ethnic enclaves.
South Africans have fought too hard and sacrificed too much to allow a vocal minority to return us to the dark days of racial oppression and discrimination. We commemorate the death of former ANC President Albert Luthuli, who passed away 50 years ago. Chief Luthuli was the first African to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and used the occasion of accepting the award to focus attention on the unjust Apartheid regime and the brutal repression of black people in South Africa. He was later followed by Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.
Every ANC member is called upon to emulate the spirit of Albert Luthuli and to let our courage rise in times of danger. South Africans know the danger of racism and we must actively fight against the ‘demon of racialism’, ethnic jealousies and divisions as well as all other backward tendencies that have shed enough of our blood!
We must all work together to create a country that gives effect to the following words of OR:
“We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together and where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.”
(D) NON-SEXIST SOCIETY
President OR Tambo recognised that the struggle for national liberation is intrinsically linked to the emancipation of women and advocated that women take up their roles “among the fighting ranks of our movement and its command posts.”
Equally, we must be sensitive to the reality that we must engender a sense of equality between men and women.
It is incumbent upon all of us to remember that patriarchy disadvantages both women and men. We must be consistent in challenging societal norms that engender sexist stereotypes.
The ANC government has made great progress in the advancement of the emancipation of women and our country has shown considerable improvement in fighting patriarchy and gender oppression. We have implemented many successful programmes to advance the economic and social status of women, but much still remains to be done. Women have made more strides over the last two decades than ever before.
The ANC will actively work to improve women’s access to economic opportunities and, in particular, business financing and credit so that women can pursue business opportunities in all areas. We urge government to utilise institutions such as the recently launched Women’s Cooperative Bank and all other development finance institutions to further the economic emancipation of women.
We must do more to promote access to quality education and training for all women, but especially rural women and children. We must do more to empower women to be in greater control of their sexual and reproductive health and we must do more to eradicate gender-based violence and abuse of women and children.
(E) A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY
Comrade OR Tambo worked tirelessly to ensure that South Africa becomes a constitutional democracy and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa is now the supreme law of the country.
President Tambo led the negotiations towards the democratic transition and said that: “If peaceful negotiations will result in the formation of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa we are not only willing but ready to enter into such negotiations.”
Comrade OR led the ANC team that drafted the Harare Declaration, which set out the ANC’s proposals for a political settlement and for negotiations aimed at resolving the South African conflict. President Tambo was under no illusions about the Apartheid regime’s conduct and insisted that the negotiations would only be successful if all parties engaged in good faith.
In 1987, Comrade OR appointed a commission of ANC legal experts to draw up a constitution to reflect the kind of country that the ANC wanted for the future. He participated in their discussions, often guiding the meetings. In line with the values of the ANC, President Tambo consistently advocated support for a multiparty democracy and an entrenched Bill of Rights. These proposals culminated in Ready to Govern, which informed the ANC’s submissions to the Constitutional Assembly and were ultimately included in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
We take great pride in the fact that the ANC-government ensured the establishment of a democratic multi-party Parliament, an independent judiciary based on the rule of law and various institutions supporting democracy. We must ensure that all of these institutions are protected and supported.
The pressure and stress of this period took a toll on President Tambo’s health and he suffered a stroke in 1989. So dedicated was he to the cause of liberation that he went against the advice of his doctors and comrades to return to work and maintained his punishing schedule. This led to another stroke in 1991.
We are proud that our Constitution espouses progressive values and protects all persons equally. We are especially proud of the protection available to women, children, persons living with disabilities, the provisions aimed at safeguarding cultural, linguistic and religious rights and those entrenching the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) South Africans. The NEC says to leaders and members of the ANC that all of us are bound by the Constitution and we must respect and give effect to the rights and obligations therein. We instruct ANC structures and members to be at the forefront of promoting the rights of all and to lead efforts aimed at spreading progressive values throughout our communities.
Comrade OR said, in 1991, that the ANC has always been the people’s parliament and that it remains vitally important that the “the decisions of the ANC” are shaped by popular mass endorsement at all times. We must learn from President Tambo and keep in mind that the people must always have a say in shaping and developing ANC policy and decisions. It requires the ANC to jealously guard our internal democratic practices and to ensure that we take society onboard when making decisions. Branches and structures of the ANC must encourage widespread participation and a broad range of ideas to influence our decisions. We must make sure that we embody the full diversity of South African society and that no one who wishes to join the ANC and participate in our programmes is arbitrarily prevented from doing so. The ANC has historically been as inclusive and democratic as possible and it is incumbent upon us to honour this legacy.
It is especially important that the ANC returns to being a people’s parliament and hold broad and intensive discussions as we review and refine the policies that will inform our programme for the next five years.
The ANC’s ideas must be sound and tested through debate and widespread engagement. All cadres must be able to articulate and defend the positions of the ANC. It is the tradition of the ANC to discuss matters thoroughly and to build broad consensus around our ideas. We must remain true to this tradition.
The ANC will elect a new national leadership towards the end of the year. ANC leaders must demonstrate a desire and commitment to serve the people. They must have a proven track record and be able to organise and inspire the masses to be their own liberators. Leaders must have demonstrated capacity to unite and guide our Movement.
Leading the ANC is a tremendous responsibility, which must not be taken lightly. Too often, comrades fight for leadership positions as they see leadership as the route to material and personal gain. Leaders who are in positions for nefarious reasons contribute to the decline in our Movement’s standing and they have no place in the ANC.
The 2016 Local Government Elections illustrated that South Africans are becoming more adept at utilising democratic instruments such as the right to vote. The election results prove that where the people do not agree with the actions or direction of their Movement, they will use democratic means to express their dissatisfaction. This success of our maturing democracy must be celebrated.
The right to vote is one of the most important instruments that citizens have and the people must exercise their voice. Voting is a deeply personal choice and voters must be able exercise this choice without fear or favour. The task of ANC members and, especially, all ANC public representatives is to serve the people selflessly and diligently. Our policies, behaviour and conduct must illustrate that ANC continues to be the best choice for achieving a better life for all.
At the same time, the ANC has heard the message that the people delivered in August 2016. We accept that we have made mistakes and shall correct these mistakes. One example of correcting our mistakes is that where list processes have been manipulated, the ANC has sent teams to these regions to take the necessary corrective measures. The ANC is in the process of refining our approach to the selection of candidates to prevent manipulation of ANC list processes.
South Africa has made tremendous progress over the past two decades and we are proud of our achievements. The ANC continues to demand that our cadres be disciplined and selfless in serving the people. Cadres of the Movement must remain true to the values and traditions of the ANC. We demand that our deployees give effect to ANC policy and there will be consequences for not adhering to the positions of the Movement. Where any deployee of the Movement does not adhere to ANC policy, the Movement will act!
In order to ensure that ANC public representatives serve the people, it is demanded of ANC cadres to sign performance contracts and we will be more vigilant in holding our public representatives accountable.
All ANC councillors have signed performance and accountability agreements with the Movement and these agreements are being enforced. We remind the people that ANC councillors must be accessible to the community and hold regular reporting and feedback meetings and that ANC municipalities must conduct regular surveys to gauge the levels of satisfaction among their communities. Where these standards are not adhered to, we request you to report this to the Movement. We commit to you that the ANC will respond to your concerns.
The NDP enjoins us to build an active citizenry that participates in democratic governance structures and takes responsibility for their own development. We must make sure that ANC members take the lead in building these community structures and that the ANC is present in every community forum, street committee, school governing body and other structures.
Our Constitution recognises the institution, status and role of traditional leadership. As the ANC was founded, among others, by traditional leaders, we appreciate our historical ties with traditional leaders. We reaffirm that the ANC supports traditional leadership as an instrument of unity and an agent of change within our constitutional democracy.
The ANC supports the democratic right of all persons to protest peacefully. However, we are concerned that legitimate protests become violent and destructive in some instances. Such violence and destruction undermine the justness of the cause being highlighted and closes the space for engagement. We call on all South Africans to exercise their right to protest in a manner that builds our nation.
Crime and corruption will destroy our democracy if we do not act decisively against these scourges. The ANC government has put in place many programmes to fight corruption and promote ethics throughout the public service. Corruption also takes place in the private sector and we encourage the criminal justice system to deal decisively with instances of corruption, wherever they may occur.
We call on our people to work with the criminal justice system and to report all instances of crime and corruption. Let us unite in the face of these criminals who seek to undermine our freedom!
The ANC has continued with our efforts aimed at rooting out corruption and promoting adherence to the principles of revolutionary morality. Comrade OR Tambo was resolute that all cadres of the Movement must display a ‘revolutionary morality’ which does not ‘allow for personal ambition or factional conspiracies’. When leaders and members of the ANC are corrupt and steal they are betraying the values of the ANC, the people and our country. We will not allow this! Corruption is corruption and whoever is found guilty thereof will pay the price.
We will root out corruption, factionalism, buying of members and gate keeping. ANC members must be living examples of the values of service, selflessness, integrity and discipline. Members must be vigilant in protecting the internal democratic practices and traditions of our Movement. The ANC continues to act against all forms of ill-discipline and we will not hesitate to use the full force of our existing procedures to combat gatekeeping, corruption and abuse of organisational processes. Branches of the ANC are the basic units and a repository of all decisions of the ANC. The power of ANC branches must therefore not be undermined by slates and lobby groups.
Never again, in our democracy, will any newspaper be banned as happened to the World and Weekend newspapers 40 years ago. As a result of our relentless fight for freedom of religion, belief, opinion and expression these rights have now been entrenched in our Constitution. The ANC is unwavering in our defence of freedom of the press and the media, likewise, should report fairly and factually.
(F) PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP
Comrade OR was a great internationalist who criss-crossed the world to engage with people from various backgrounds and ideologies. He succeeded in building a united, mass force against the Apartheid regime.
In the year of Oliver Tambo, we also commemorate 100 years since the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution when Russian workers liberated themselves from autocratic Tsarist rule and established the first socialist workers state. The ANC remains appreciative of the solidarity and material support provided by the people of Russia during our struggle for liberation. Their struggles also inspired our struggles for freedom and the then president of the ANC, Josiah Gumede, exclaimed after a visit to the Soviet Union:
“I have seen the new world to come, where it has already begun. I have been to the new Jerusalem. I have brought the key which would unlock the door to freedom.”
Our world is increasingly moving away from the concepts of unity across nations and multilateral engagement on issues of global importance. There is an apparent upsurge of right wing nationalism in Europe and worrying signs of similar phenomena in other countries.
The ANC continues to champion internationalism based on our ideals of a just and equitable world. We engage progressive forces across the world to ensure that we build unity to fight injustice. In this regard, the ANC shall continue to participate in multilateral fora and work towards the reform of multilateral institutions.
The ongoing strengthening of South-South cooperation and the growing influence of BRICS are encouraging. The ANC continues to promote the presence and influence of a multiplicity of voices in international relations. We are steadfast in our commitment to African unity and the achievement of a prosperous Africa. A key component of the NDP is the deepening of South Africa’s integration into the region and the continent. We continue to do this on the basis of our commitment to the African Union Agenda 2063.
The ANC celebrates the 60th Anniversary of the independence of Ghana and remains inspired by its son, Kwame Nkrumah, who was a great supporter of pan-Africanism and key to the founding of the Non- Aligned Movement.
The launch of the African Union 15 years ago was another important step in building unity across the continent and the ANC will continue to forge solidarity in addressing the social, economic and political problems facing the continent.
The ANC urges our government to continue our peacekeeping efforts and solidarity work in countries such as South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and others.
The ANC re-affirms our solidarity and unity with all the oppressed people of the world.
We remain unwavering in our support for an independent and free Western Sahara. We shall continue to offer concrete support and solidarity for the programmes of the Polisario Front.
The ANC continues to stand with the people of Cuba and calls on the United States to return Guantanamo Bay and lift the economic embargo. The ANC urges the incoming US administration to continue efforts aimed at normalising relations between the two countries.
The people of Palestine continue to suffer in their rightful quest for self-determination and the ANC pledges its ongoing solidarity and support for their just cause. We reiterate that we firmly discourage travel to Israel for causes not related to fostering peace in the region. The ANC repeats our call for all the people of Palestine to work together in achieving the goal of self-determination. We support UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 2016.
The ANC is deeply disturbed by the situation in Syria and we call on the international community to assist the people of Syria to find a peaceful and lasting resolution to the conflict.
TASKS OF THE MOVEMENT
The tasks of the Movement are founded on the desire to unite the people of South Africa, unite our Movement and ensure that we work together for a better life for all.
Every member, branch and structure must focus on building the African National Congress.
Our strength lies in solidarity with the aspirations of the people. We call on all ANC members, structures and the Alliance partners to work together and build unity at local, regional, provincial and national levels. We specifically call on all leaders of structures to foster greater unity by ensuring greater inclusivity and engaging with a wide cross-section of people and organisations within society.
The Movement must work to unite communities around the strategic objectives of the NDR. We call on our members to organise and participate in discussions on how to build a common South African identity and to develop campaigns to strengthen national solidarity.
We repeat that we expect our branches and structures to lead campaigns on non-racialism, eradicating patriarchy and all forms of sexism and other campaigns that promote progressive values in society.
The ANC commits to working with all progressive forces in these campaigns.
The ANC is the people’s movement and we must lead a concerted drive throughout the country to recruit new members and to bring former supporters and activists back to the structures of the Movement. In this regard, we call on ANC members to be decisive and stamp out gatekeeping, buying of members and manipulation of internal democratic processes.
Members of the ANC are called upon to be exemplary in their conduct and lifestyle. We expect our cadres to emulate Comrade OR Tambo and live a life of humility, integrity and selfless service to the people.
We shall be embarking on a process of policy review and the ANC calls on its structures to spread the message of the ANC widely and to encourage discussion about ANC policy proposals within their communities. The leadership of the ANC must ensure that these discussions encompass all sectors of society.
The 54th National Conference will take place in December 2017 and we encourage members and structures to prepare thoroughly for the Conference. There must be consensus on the policies and programmes that the Movement must pursue during the next five years. These policies must inform the discussion about leadership. We therefore expect that ANC members will firstly conclude indepth discussions about the principles that qualify comrades for leadership. There must be agreement about these principles before comrades begin discussions about the names of specific leaders.
We expect our government to do the following
Give effect to President Tambo’s vision for the nation and create a society that is prosperous. We must focus on radical economic transformation. The economy must be in the hands of the majority of the people.
We must return the land to the people.
We must put more resources into education and, in particular, higher education and training.
The ANC presents the achievement awards to structures and ANC councils in recognition of excellent performance and best practice in serving the people.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the ANC Achievement Awards for 2017:
The Sol Plaatje Award, conferred on the best performing ANC branch, goes to the Nelson Mandela branch, Bohlabela region, Mpumalanga.
The runner-up is Ward 19, Eddy Ngwanaeng branch, Dr Ruth Mompati region, North West.
The Charlotte Maxeke Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Women`s League branch, goes to the Moses Kotane branch, Bojanala region, North West.
The Anton Lembede Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branch, goes to the Lillian Ngoyi branch, Lejweleputswa region, Free State.
The ZK Matthews Award, conferred on the best performing group of ANC councillors goes to the ANC councillors of the Nkangala District Municipality, Mpumalanga.
The runner-up is Lejweleputswa District Municipality, Free State.
We congratulate the recipients of these awards.
The ANC wishes to honour the spirit and unwavering courage of those comrades who passed away during 2016. We pledge to honour their dedication and selfless service. Comrades such as:
Hermanus Loots (James Stuart), Habakuk Shikwane, Jules Browde, Don Mkhwanazi, Phyllis Ntantala-Jordan, Makhenkesi Stofile, Mewa Ramgobin, William Mlamli (Ngalitye) Ondala, Riot Mkhwanazi, Beata Lipman, Dumisani Mazolo Mafu, Reverend Simon Gqubule, Ouma Tsopo, Rok Ajulu and many others.
As we close, we must once again pay special tribute to a man from humble beginnings, hailing from beyond the Engeli Mountains. The son of Kaizana, one of the architects of a democratic South Africa whose life was cut short on the eve of our freedom.
Comrade Oliver Tambo was resolute that all our actions must be inspired exclusively by a desire to serve the people. The principles, practices and style of leadership of Comrade OR enabled the ANC to emerge as the vehicle through which we achieved the democratic breakthrough of 1994. We must continue to honour Comrade Tambo and earn our position as leader of society.
A strong, vibrant, principled and united ANC remains best placed to advance the National Democratic Revolution.
Let us build and deepen unity. We must make sure that the people’s cause continues to triumph!
THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE DECLARES THIS THE YEAR OF OLIVER REGINALD TAMBO: LET US DEEPEN UNITY!
The ANC Lives! The ANC LEADS!
This is an unedited speech of the ANC at its 105 birthday held at Orlando Stadium.