ANC Deputy President, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa and all Officials of the ANC,
Deputy President of the Republic, Comrade Kgalema Motlanthe,
Members of the incoming of the National Executive Committee,
Leadership of the Leagues, MKMVA,
The leadership of the Alliance, the SACP and Cosatu plus SANCO,
Representatives of fraternal parties in SADC and internationally,
Our honoured veterans,
Representatives of the business community, traditional leaders, religious and other sectors,
Comrades and friends,
Members of the media,
We have come to the end of a very successful 53rd National Conference of the ANC.
We conclude our business on a high note, satisfied that we have achieved the objectives we had set for ourselves at the beginning of the conference.
Let me take this opportunity to formally congratulate the newly elected leadership of the ANC - the Officials as well as the additional members of the National Executive Committee.
As the incoming leadership collective we are humbled by the confidence shown by the branches of the ANC in us. We will do our best in executing our tasks on behalf of the membership, and also guided by the membership.
We also extend our deepest gratitude to our former colleagues, the outgoing officials and the outgoing National Executive Committee.
The comrades contributed immensely to the growth and success of the movement in the past five years, at times under difficult conditions.
The primary task of the ANC going forward is to work for unity at all levels of the organization. We must all do everything that is humanly possible to lead the organization in promoting unity.
As Madiba taught us, unity is the rock upon which the ANC was founded.
When we emerged from the 52nd national conference in Polokwane, we assumed that we were all in agreement that we would work for unity, and collectively understood the democratic principles and internal democracy that prevailed within the movement.
We did not monitor the process. We must not repeat that mistake. Unity will not happen automatically, we need to work hard for it.
We also wish to reiterate that all members have a right to be nominated for any position in the organisation and to accept or decline that nomination.
Therefore, no member or leader of the ANC should be ostracised for exercising their democratic rights as members.
Comrades, let me also acknowledge the delegates in this hall for discipline and for promoting unity and cohesion.
When we requested you to refrain from divisive and triumphant songs and slogans, you complied. This is what is always expected from ANC cadres.
In that way, the decorum of the ANC that we know returned. We are going to leave this conference venue with great optimism, as it is clear that the ANC is renewing itself already.
We had indicated that this was a significant conference as it occurs at the beginning of the decisive second phase of our long transition from Colonialism of a Special Type to a National Democratic Society.
We chose as a theme, Unity in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom, which demonstrates that we are ready for the task of radically transforming our society.
That task will require a renewed and more vibrant ANC and Alliance.
As directed by conference, the incoming NEC will begin processes of implementing the directive of the 53rd conference to develop a 10 year programme for organisational renewal and the Decade of the Cadre.
We have to fast-track the implementation of a coherent cadre policy, and to institutionalise political education.
We must move away from saying how important political education is, to actually implementing the decisions.
Through political education and cadre development as well as decisive action against ill-discipline, we will be able to root out all the tendencies that we have identified over the years.
These include factionalism, the sowing of disunity and confusion within the movement, the use of money to buy members, positions or influence in the organisation, the hurling of insults or even worse, the attacks on members of the ANC.
We will be able to deal with the comrades who disrupt ANC meetings and those who want the ANC to be now run on technicalities and through the courts.
We will be building cadres who respect actions taken by the movement to enforce discipline against others, who know the implications of working with members who have been expelled from the organisation, assisting them to undermine the organisation. There must be consequences for such ANC members.
Leading the ANC’s political education programme will need to be a seasoned and senior cadre of our movement who is schooled in the traditions of the ANC.
We discussed this critical matter with Deputy President Ramaphosa and former ANC Deputy President Motlanthe and other officials.
We are pleased to announce that former Deputy President Motlanthe will lead this crucial ANC political education programme. We thank the former Deputy President for availing himself for this crucial developmental task.
On safeguarding core values, conference has also directed the incoming NEC to urgently develop the guidelines and constitute the Integrity Committee of the ANC within three months after this Conference.
The NEC must also develop a code of conduct booklet to be circulated to all branches within the first quarter of 2013.
We discussed the formation of the Committee at length at the National General Council in 2010.
This intervention will go a long way towards promoting ethical behaviour within the organisation.
Comrades, as part of organisational renewal, the ANC will also lead by example by being the champion of education and skills development in this phase of the revolution.
We therefore call on every branch to strive, through the education campaign, to improve the literacy rate and general level of education and skills among the people in every ward.
Comrades, on the economy, we have declared that over the next five years, the ANC will take decisive and resolute action to overcome the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, which are at the heart of South Africa’s challenge.
The ANC government will therefore transform the structure of the economy through industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment, addressing the basic needs of our people, including women and youth as well as strengthening and expanding the role of the state.
More importantly, the ANC has at this conference welcomed and embraced National Development Plan as a critical basis for united action by all South Africans to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.
Thus, our first main strategic task in period ahead is the comprehensive and democratic implementation of the National Development Plan.
It is a strategic task to ensure that by 2030 we attain full employment for our people, consequently eradicate poverty and significantly reduce inequality.
Some of the key programmatic contents of the NDP have already been put into motion in the last few years.
This relates to the new growth path, the state-led industrial policy as well as the huge social and economic infrastructure development. It also relates to our five priorities.
Our main strategic task will be to ensure that our people are organised and mobilised around the NDP as a bold plan in our struggle for nation-building and socio-economic emancipation.
We must ensure all sectors of the state and society are focussed on the vision and the implementation of the Plan as it is a Plan for all South Africans not the ANC alone.
We call upon members of the ANC, wherever they are deployed – in cabinet, in communities, in provincial or local governments, to build on the message of the NDP.
We have had very robust and constructive debates in the plenary and the Commissions. The culture of internal debates in the movement became visible.
We have taken several other resolutions that will renew and transform the organization. What is a priority now is to draw up a clear programme of action to implement our good policies.
We trust that early in the year the programme will be done and concluded.
The programme of action that we will draw up must demonstrate the tasks of individual branches in implementing the programme.
The Leagues of the ANC should also work on programmes of action based on the resolutions of this 53rd conference.
As we go forward we will be working with the Alliance, in the spirit raised by the President of COSATU, who said correctly that we need to engage more as the Alliance partners.
There are other very important outstanding organisational issues for us to look at in the new year.
For example the conference has in its wisdom, taken a decision that the incoming NEC must discuss the matter of the ANC Youth League. We appreciate that decision and the spirit in which it was taken.
Comrades, next month the ANC enters its second century. We were able to achieve 1,2 million members in the first century. Every century must have its own million members.
Let every member be an organiser and swell the ranks of the ANC with new members. More importantly, we must always remember that we are the organisation of the people of this country.
We carry the hopes and aspirations of the people of this country and beyond.
Therefore, the manner in which we conduct ourselves must help to keep those hopes alive to the citizens of this country.
Comrades, at this stage, please allow me to update you on the important matter of the health status of Isithwalandwe, our beloved former President Comrade Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who has been hospitalised in Pretoria since Saturday the 8th December 2012.
Tata was admitted for tests in keeping with his age and health status.
We were informed by his medical team, which consists of the best specialists in our country, that he had a recurring lung infection and later that they also suspected that he had gallstones.
This latter diagnosis was confirmed and he was successfully operated on 15th December 2012.
Today is the thirteenth day that Tata spends in hospital. His condition was serious but he is responding well to treatment and has steadily improved over the last few days.
I have been informed that at his age, doctors need to intervene in a very gradual and sensitive way, in order to maximise the chances of a full recovery.
The medical team has our full confidence and he is receiving the best care possible.
We are however mindful of the fact that Madiba is at an age where medical challenges require extra-ordinary care.
But, as we all know, Comrade Madiba is an unparalleled fighter and has always been so.
He has met all his health challenges with his tremendous fortitude and grace.
He appreciates the support of the whole nation during this difficult period. We wish him a speedy recovery and assure his family that he remains foremost in our thoughts.
We thank the Free State for being a wonderful host yet again.
Allow me to also thank all the fraternal liberation movements within SADC and also fraternal political movements from other parts of the world for attending the conference and providing messages of support.
We thank all religious leaders, business and traditional leaders who also graced our conference.
I wish all of you a wonderful festive season and a prosperous New Year, as well as a safe journey back home.
As we close, let me remind you of the wise words of President Mandela when he says there is “No easy walk to freedom’’.
There will certainly be no easy walk to socio-economic freedom, ngoba yinde lendlela esiyihambayo.