Closing Address by the President of the African National Congress, Comrade President Jacob Zuma, at the conclusion of the ANC 5th National Policy Conference, Nasrec Centre, Johannesburg, 05 July 2017.
Before I make my closing remarks I would like to request all of us to rise and observe a moment of silence in honour of the eighteen people who died in a bus crash in Mpumalanga and the eight who died in yet another road crash outside Mangaung.
Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with their families and relatives at this difficult moment.
We also wish to convey our deep condolences to the families of the legendary jazz musician and teacher Mr Johnny Mekoa as well as that of Michael BizzahDlamini, a football legend who both recently passed away.
We also wish to send our deepest condolences to all families of the victims of the fire that broke out in Central Johannesburg this morning claiming the lives of seven people.
Thank you…You may be seated.
Our hearts also go out to the hundreds of people of iMizamo Yethu community in Hout Bay in the Western Cape who were displaced by fires.
We have accordingly instructed relevant national government ministries to work together with the City of Cape Town in dealing with the disaster and taking care of our people in distress.
Let me take this opportunity first and foremost to thank all delegates who came from the length and breadth of our country to attend this historic Fifth ANC National Policy Conference.
Your presence here has ensured that we together were part of shaping, sharpening and deepening the policies of the ANC.
We also thank all Alliance partners and the Leagues of the ANC as well as all progressive democratic formations who graced this conference with their presence.
We express our sincere gratitude also to the stalwarts and veterans of our movement who attended this policy conference and participated in discussions from day one despite the demands associated with their advanced ages.
Your presence reaffirms the fact that the ANC is still a people’s movement, a broad church and a true parliament of the people!
I am proud to report that this conference discussed all important issues facing the ANC and the country in a disciplined manner befitting the stature of our movement as the leader of society.
Everyone agrees that this Policy Conference has been a watershed in the arena of the festival of ideas. Different ideas were articulated and debated.
Various formulations were presented and tested so that the movement can come out of this Conference with a common perspective on all issues that were being deliberated upon.
All delegates and participants here demonstrated deep understanding that the ANC plays a central role in the betterment of the lives of our people, and that the ANC still remains the strategic centre of power.
We have come to the end of our Fifth ANC National Policy Conference, which was both vibrant and robust in its deliberations. We can confidently declare that this was a very fruitful and successful Policy Conference.
It is not the intention of this address to go into a detailed account of outcomes of commissions.
A full conference report will be sent to structures and also publicized.
We say it was successful because the main objectivesof the Policy Conference were achieved.
We came here first and foremost to review the policies of the ANC and to assess whether we are still on course with the execution of the goals of the National Democratic Revolution.
We came here to assess the work done since the last Conference and also to make policy proposals where necessary to the upcoming 54th National Conference.
All these tasks were done remarkably well!
We emerge out of this Policy Conference much wiser and better in our understanding of both our strengths and weaknesses.
We have a keen understanding of our challenges and how to overcome them.
But most importantly we also emerge out of this conference more united in purpose than when we came here.
We are much clear and remain committed to the fact that what unites us is more important than what divides us.
There are no losers and winners among the delegates to this Conference, the only winner is the ANC.
We as a movement have shown a keen and a deep appreciation of the teachings of our forebears who taught us that: “Unity is the rock upon which our movement was founded.”
What the Conference has also confirmed is that the unity of the ANC is sacrosanct, so whatever we do we must ensure that we leave the ANC as united as we inherited it.
This conference strengthened the culture of robust internal debate in the ANC, anchored on the principle that we can disagree without being disagreeable. After all we are not enemies, we are comrades.
Our discussions on Strategy and Tactics and Organizational Renewal have once more reaffirmed our position as a liberation movement for the emancipation of Black people in general and Africans in particular with a strong non-racial character.
The ANC still lives up to the vision that our founding fathers like Pixley ka Isaka Seme articulated when he said:
“We are one people!” as well as the vision articulated in the Freedom Charter that:
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, Black and White and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”.
Our discussions and recommendations have also re-affirmed that the ANC is a broad church, a multi-class movement with a strong bias to the working class and the poor.
The ANC is still a disciplined force of the left. These are core tenets and principles to which the ANCsubscribes.
Our Conference has re-affirmed the Strategy and Tactics as adopted at the 53rd National Conference.
This speaks to the continuity and consistency of our policies. The Organizational Renewal discussion, in which all delegates participated, looked at our challenges and weaknesses and came with many proposals to address them.
Most importantly, we have clear proposals for improving our connection with our people on the ground, and for accelerating the delivery of services to our people.
All our members, leaders and public representatives will focus on re-establishing the trust and confidence the people have always had in the ANC to be their servant and to deliver a better life for all.
We have many strong recommendations for cleaning up and decisively dealing with corruption in government and within our movement.
We agree that we will strengthen cadre development as well as the selection criteria and election processes to ensure that we produce the best possible leaders among us to take the National Democratic Revolution forward.
We will strengthen our discipline, our integrity commission and our ability to monitor delivery of our promises to the people, and effective implementation of our policies. There was general agreement in commissions on the need to elect leaders according to the principles of integrity, discipline, honesty, trust-worthiness, service to the people, track record, capacity and hard work.
In the spirit of combating slate politics and factionalism, a significant number of comrades have proposed that we find a mature and sound way of politically managing possible contestation of leadership positions especially in the run up to the 54th National Conference.
The experiences of the last two National Conferences have taught us that the factionally driven ‘winner takes all’ attitude is not in the best interest of the ANC.
It is worth repeating what I said during the opening remarks to this conference that our movement has lost many talented and capable comrades in whom it invested significantly due to slate politics, a terrible manifestation of perennial factionalism.
In this regard, a proposal has been made that we should all encourage lobbying practices that will allow a unifying electoral outcome.
One of these is to build consensus in the structures of the ANC that candidates contesting for officialpositions should feature in the leadership collective even if they lose.
As a practical measure to put an end to the entrenched practice of slate politics and factionalism, branches should consider a proposal to have a second Deputy President so as to include the candidate who obtained the second highest votes in the contest for the position of President.
There is consensus that our movement can no longer afford to totally reject leaders who were preferred by a significant number of members to lead.
Important proposals have emerged for strengthening the National Executive Committee by making it smaller while at the same time strengthening the full time capacity at the Head Office.
There are options to be considered by the National Conference for more Deputy Secretaries General, an additional Deputy President and more directly electedfull time NEC members to manage the day to day work of the organization in policy, political education,elections, organizing and communications.
A strong recommendation came out of this Conference on the need to have monitoring and evaluation capacitylocated either within the Office of the Deputy President or Deputy Secretary General.
This proposal is informed by the challenge of implementation that we have observed over the years.
Our branches must go back and discuss the type of structure and define its powers, functions and composition. This Unit must liaise with the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Department in government. This Unit must be fully capacitated and must report at every NEC meeting, about its monitoring and evaluation work.
We have taken many resolutions on many key and critical issues but because we have weak capacity to monitor and evaluate their implementation, we have been found wanting.
An effective Monitoring and Evaluation Unit located at the Head Office is central to the ANC’s position as the strategic centre of power.
We still do not have such a unit capacitated at a desired level and this has resulted in the inability of the ANC to ensure the full implementation of its programme of action.
In other words, this reality means that the capacity of our movement to enforce discipline on and ensure accountability from its deployed cadres is severely limited.
Many commissions have decried the failure to implement some of our resolutions, and have attributed this failure to the lack of monitoring and evaluation capacity which has undermined the mandates received at various conferences.
The discussions in the Strategy and Tactics and Organizational Renewal, and the Economic Transformation Commissions and at plenary were robust on the issue of the characterization of monopoly capital. This is as it should be.
The correct characterisation of phenomena is important. In this regard it is technically correct in the context of the South African political economy to talk of white monopoly capital. With this understanding in mind, it is also important to lay the emphasis on the fact that it is monopoly capital as such that is the primary adversary of the collective interests of our people, regardless of its colour.
The most critical thing Comrades is that we share a common view about what measures we need to take to realize our ultimate objectives. We must not allow ourselves to be divided simply on the basis of conceptualization and grand theory.
I want to reiterate that our definition of radical socio-economic transformation captures the essence of what we aim to achieve in terms of fundamentally changing the structure, systems, institutions, and patterns of ownership and control of the economy of the country and making it inclusive of the poor and working class, most of whom are African and female.
In fact we agree that many of the measures we are already taking through the NDP, including re-industrialization and regional integration are critical in this regard.
What is at issue is accelerating and deepening these interventions. We are agreed that these measures include legislation and regulations, licensing conditions, public procurement, financial and other support, and the reorientation of the mandates of development finance institutions.
We agree on the imperative to accelerate land redistribution and land reform.
Again we had robust discussions on the modalities to achieve this. We agree that using the fiscus for land redistribution must be accompanied by other measures if we are to achieve the goal at the required pace.
Where it is necessary and unavoidable this may include expropriation without compensation. The Constitution provides for legislative changes to be effected in the democratic process.
Before we conclude, we wish to re-iterate the policy of the ANC in regard to free education for the poor.
As I indicated in the opening address, we await the report of the Heher Commission on modalities for the implementation of free higher education.
As the ANC, we are resolute that no child from working class and poor backgrounds will be denied access to education in general and higher education in particular.
In conclusion, delegates to this conference expressed serious concern about the state of our alliance. They emphasized the importance of the alliance and agreed that we must do everything in our power to jealously guard the unity of the alliance.
As we leave this conference, all of us must double our efforts to strengthen relations with our allies from the ground up. We also call on our alliance partners to engage us constructively at correct platforms.
We wish all delegates a safe journey as they go back to their different destinations.