Fellow South Africans:
On the occasion of the 90th Anniversary of the African National Congress, we extend our greetings and best wishes to you, to the peoples of Africa and the world. Together we have travelled a long road to be where we are today.
Ahead of us lies a decade during which we must continue to act together to advance towards the land of promise for Africa and Africans foreseen by our forebears when they established the ANC on January 8th, 1912.
This glorious future was foretold by one of the founders of the African National Congress, Pixley ka Isaka Seme, when he spoke at New York's Columbia University 96 years ago, in 1906. He said:
"The brighter day is rising upon Africa... Yes, the regeneration of Africa belongs to this new and powerful period. The African people... possess a common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallising itself into one common controlling idea... The regeneration of Africa means that a new and unique civilisation is soon to be added to the world."
Even as Seme spoke these words, a dark future awaited our people and the peoples of the rest of our Continent. The brighter day did not rise. The darkest night of colonial oppression and exploitation continued to envelop Africa. It was to change this condition and transform a dream into reality, that the ANC was established 90 years ago today.
The Union of South Africa was two years old. After the savage South African War of 1899 to 1902, Great Britain had achieved her goal of uniting the white colonies and the native reserves within our borders. South Africa was now one dominion over which she exercised overall sovereignty.
During the course of this war, both Boer and African lost thousands of people. Originally fought as a "white man's war", it nevertheless imposed great sacrifices on both Boer and African, laying the basis for what these two national groups have to do together to build a South Africa radically different from the one that emerged a century ago.
At the same time, Great Britain had treacherously surrendered the fate of the African majority to the minority white colonists, the resident Boers and Britons, to do with this majority as they wished.
Already the European powers had apportioned our Continent among themselves, with each piece of Africa the property of an imperial power, and the African peoples unwilling subjects of the colonisers.
Except for Ethiopia and Liberia, Africa had been alienated from the Africans. Its peoples and its wealth existed merely to serve the interests of imperialism and colonialism. The African was defined and treated as being of a lesser human species than even the lowliest among the colonisers.
Not long after the Dutch settlers had established themselves in the Cape, and having seized land from the Khoi, Jan van Riebeeck told the dispossessed: "The country had fallen to our lot, being justly won in defensive warfare and Á‰it is our intention to retain it."
This began the process of the systematic decimation of the Khoi and the San, whose recovery from centuries of dehumanisation is one of the principal challenges our democratic revolution faces. Similarly, we still have to honour properly those who came to our country as slaves from South East Asia.
Across the Atlantic Ocean in the United States, as the 19th century was coming to a close, the Governor of Alabama, William C. Oates, spoke frankly at the famous Tuskegee Institute of the African-American educator, Booker T. Washington, and said to his black audience:
"I want to give you niggers a few words of plain talk and advice. You might as well understand that this is a white man's country, as far as the South is concerned, and we are going to make you keep your place. Understand that."
As the ANC was born, everywhere, wherever black people lived, except in Haiti, Ethiopia and Liberia, was 'a white man's country' and the nigger, the inferior race, was in his place.
In Africa this dictated that where necessary the land had to be taken away from the indigenous people. It demanded that the traditional systems of government had to be destroyed, to be replaced by colonial and white minority rule.
It required that the cultures of the Africans had to be obliterated, to allow for their displacement by a so-called Christian Western civilisation. It necessitated the denial of the identity of the Africans, singly and collectively, so that they could re-emerge as things given their names and their very being by the colonial master. They also became the cheap, super-exploited labour that the superior races used to work on the plantations, the farms, the mines, the roads and the railway lines to rape Africa of her wealth and to export it to the markets of the colonial powers.
In this situation, inevitably, law and order meant the rule of the whip, the gun, deportation and the gallows. As had happened elsewhere throughout human history, some from among the oppressed were hired to wield the whip while the master commanded.
Again inevitably, some among the enslaved allowed the insulting image of themselves imposed on them by their masters to take hold of their minds and their souls. Where they were told they were inferior, they believed they were inferior.
The Africa into which the ANC was born was one in which superior force had defeated the efforts of the peoples of Africa to maintain their independence. Nevertheless, though defeated, these masses had not surrendered, as signified by the very formation of the African National Congress and the stirring call - Afrika Mayibuye!
The African experience was little different from that of the peoples of Asia and Latin America. From the beginning, therefore, the conditions were set for the solidarity of the peoples of the South as they struggled to achieve their emancipation.
For the ANC, this expressed itself immediately in the understanding of the Congress that it was engaged in an all-African struggle. Established by the peoples of Southern Africa, it was later to establish its own anthem which proudly proclaimed - God bless Africa!
Twice during the last century, as world wars engulfed the whole of humanity, the peoples of Africa and the rest of the South, threw their weight behind the forces allied against German imperialism and nazism.
They hoped that by securing the freedom of others from imperialist and fascist domination, they would secure their own liberty from colonial domination. On both occasions, they were disappointed. After they had helped to silence the guns of the aggressors, the world of the colonisers still considered them an inferior race.
Thus we had to remain a subject people - the Dark Continent!
For various reasons, not least of which was the fact that among all the countries of Africa, our country attracted the largest numbers of European colonial settlers, South Africa was to evolve into the most pernicious example of the criminal practise of colonial and white minority domination.
Accordingly, the struggle for the liberation of South Africa became, also, the struggle for the restoration of the dignity of black people everywhere. It became the epicentre of the common striving of the black people in Africa and the diaspora for the assertion of their humanity.
This reality imposed on us the obligation to wage the most protracted of all the struggles of the peoples of Africa for us to achieve our liberation. But it also gave our Continent its first modern national liberation movement, the African National Congress.
Our movement had to lead a struggle against the most stubborn representatives of white minority rule on our Continent. It had to lead the masses of our people to defeat the most naked racism ever experienced by the peoples of Africa, systematically codified, sanctified and ruthlessly implemented as the system of apartheid.
It had to respond to a situation that had seen the most extensive land dispossession in Africa. Here had taken place the most thorough and merciless process of the transformation of the African peasantry into proletarians.
In addition, they were denied the rights that accrued to the proletarians of the colonising countries, including the domestic white proletariat, which appended itself to the white oppressive power structure.
Nowhere else on our Continent was there to be devised a system as inhuman as that experienced by the Africans of South Africa, of the attempt to imprison the indigenous majority in rural ghettos.
Here they had to produce and reproduce themselves as workers for hire at low wages, at their own cost. And here they had to come to await their death, once they had served the white masters, discarded as useless waste and openly described and treated as surplus people.
As it led our people in struggle, the African National Congress had to contend with the fact that here above all others on our Continent, the process of the dehumanisation and the depersonalisation of the African people had gone furthest.
Here would arrogant white power ascend to the throne of the Creator, to create a people not after its own image, but a people that had no history, no culture, no names, stripped of their dignity.
In his opening speech at the formation of the ANC, Pixley Seme said:
"We have discovered that in the land of their birth, Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water. The white people of this country have formed what is known as the Union of South Africa - a union in which we have no voice in the making of laws and no part in their administration. We have called you, therefore, to this conference, so that we can together devise ways and means of forming our national union for the purpose of creating national unity and defending our rights and privileges."
The task the founders set themselves and their movement was to defeat white minority domination and to transform South Africa into a common home for all its people, regardless of their historical origin, their race, colour, culture or religion. It had to be a common home in which all citizens would be equal, enjoying equal rights, including the right to vote and to determine their destiny.
Its founding was therefore a direct repudiation of the notions that Africans were an inferior race and that they were niggers who would be given their place by white superiors.
When the great African-American scholar and revolutionary, W.E.B. du Bois lost his first child, Burghardt in 1898, he wrote:
"Well sped, my boy, before their world had dubbed your ambition insolence, had held your ideals unattainable, and taught you to cringe and bow... There shall yet dawn some mighty morning to lift the Veil and set the prisoned free."
The birth of the African National Congress made the categorical statement that no longer would we allow our colonial and racist, masters to dub our ambition to be free as insolence, to hold our ideals of equality and human fulfilment unattainable, forcing us forever to cringe and bow before a self-proclaimed superior race. It signalled that the mighty morning would surely come when the prisoned of our country and Africa would be free.
The colonisation and subjugation of our people and the peoples of Africa and the place imposed on Africa and Africans by foreign powers and peoples for many centuries, made it obvious that the victory of the African National Congress would not be achieved after one battle.
What we had ahead of us, was a protracted war that would not only result in the defeat of white minority rule, but also in the eradication of a legacy that had, to all intents and purposes, defined Africa and the Africans as the outcasts of the human race. To achieve these victories, the ANC has fought many battles and will have to fight many more.
What is at stake is the rebirth of a Continent, the Renaissance of Africa. Its liberation from colonial rule and its restoration as the common; patrimony of the people of Africa was a necessary condition for the process of its rebirth to resume.
So too is the restoration of sovereignty over their destiny to the masses of the African people, refusing that it should reside merely with small elites that would chose to abuse power to advance their own selfish interests.
That rebirth requires that Africa should overcome centuries of poverty, hunger, disease and underdevelopment. It demands that Africa should catch up with the rest of humanity in terms of social, economic, technological and scientific development.
It places an obligation on us to recall our ancient past, from the very origins of the earth, to celebrate our historic achievements, our cultures and our creativity. It necessitates that as we assert our pride in our identity, giving no quarter to any notion of inferiority, we should both redefine ourselves and redefine Africa's place in the world.
In the end, no advertisement will be necessary to communicate the message that ours is as a Continent of Light, of humane societies, of ever expanding frontiers of human fulfilment. No longer will we be an object of fascination for others, who would consider us a strange and estranged segment of humanity.
Then would the far-sighted vision of Pixley Seme have been realised, when the regeneration of Africa would add a new and unique civilisation to the world.
This will pose a particular challenge especially to our intelligentsia and professionals in all categories, including our religious leaders. At last, they must come into their own, as did the generation of African intellectuals and professionals of 1912. This includes those who served in other fraternal organisations of the time, such as Dr Abdurahman of the African People's Organisation and A.M. Cachalia of the Indian Congress, students like all of us of the great Mahatma Gandhi.
The same challenge faces our traditional leaders who, like our kings in 1912, must break out of the impulse towards a narrow world of tribal identity and self-fulfilment within this closed world, and understand the extraordinary national and international tasks that face every South African patriot.
A special responsibility will also fall on all our workers in the field of culture. These have the responsibility to build our identity as a people and to inspire our creativity and our capacity to dream. They will be working in a situation in which others, even within our society, will be trying their best to communicate the false message to the nation that ahead of us is nothing but gloom and despair.
A similar responsibility will also fall on all of us as South Africans to give real meaning to the noble sentiment contained in the Freedom Charter -that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. We will win the struggle so to define our country if we all act together, which we must, conscious of the reality that whether anyone of us likes it or not, we share a common destiny, despite the diversity of our colours, cultures and languages.
During this year when we observe the 90th Anniversary of your movement, the ANC, we will also celebrate the 8th anniversary of our liberation from apartheid tyranny. On this historic and indelible victory of our movement and people rest our hopes and conviction that the dream dreamt by Pixley Seme will come to its fruition.
We will also mark the centenary of the end of the South African War, the 80th anniversary of the Rebellion of the White Mineworkers of the Witwatersrand and the 50th anniversary of the Defiance Campaign. All these were important landmarks in our country's evolution to where it is today.
Together they trace an interconnected journey from an imperialist war, through the further entrenchment of white minority rule in our country, to the insurrection of the masses of our people, with the ANC at their head, which led to the victory of 1994.
We have used that victory to transform ours into a democratic country. We have used it to begin the process towards the restoration of the dignity of all our people. We have begun to unleash the talents and creativity that reside with our people, leading to the achievement of excellence in public service, the economy, education, science and technology, arts and culture.
We have striven to begin to offload the burden of poverty, hunger, disease, ignorance and underdevelopment that continue to afflict millions of our people. We have given a new impetus to our economy so that it grows and develops and addresses the needs of all our people in a more equitable manner.
We have used the short years of our emancipation to reposition our country within our Continent and in the rest of the world. Today, South Africa stands out among the front ranks of those who strive for peace, for democracy, for social progress and an end to poverty, for friendship among the front ranks of those who strive for peace, for democracy, for social progress and an end to poverty, friendship among the peoples and mutually beneficial co-operation, for the building of a humane and people-centred society.
During this past year, which we marked as the Year of the African Century -for Democracy, Peace and Development, we continued to progress on all these fronts, consistent with our fundamental objective of working to ensure a better life for all.
We take this opportunity to congratulate and salute all our members and supporters and our people as a whole for everything they have done to ensure that we continue our advance, whatever the problems we faced and will continue to confront.
In this context, we would like to mention two developments that took place last year. One of these was the formation of a new coalition government in the Western Cape.
This has created the possibility for the two political organisations that emerged as the first and second largest in this part of our country during the 1999 elections, jointly to tackle two major related challenges facing the country in this region. One of these is the issue of racism and the other is poverty.
The progress that will be achieved on these two fronts will make a significant contribution to our national struggle to overcome both these problems. Accordingly, we wish the new provincial coalition government success in its important work.
Our country had the honour to host the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. Despite the difficulties necessarily associated with any conference that discusses these contentious matters, we are pleased that the Conference was successful.
We take this opportunity to congratulate all our delegates to this Conference. We also thank all our people, inside and outside government, who did everything possible to ensure that the Conference became the success it was. Its results constitute an important platform from which the international community should further intensify the global struggle for the eradication of racism throughout the world.
Towards the end of the year, for reasons that are difficult to find, our national currency, the Rand, depreciated rapidly and substantially, relative to other foreign currencies. This had nothing whatsoever to do with our national economy, globally one of the best performing economies during this period of an economic slowdown that is affecting the world economy.
This development brought sharply to the fore the need for all of us, as South Africans, to act together to promote our national interests and avoid acting in any manner that would undermine our common future and the common objective of building a better life for all our people.
We have to continue with the economic policies that we have put in place. At government level, we must continue to strengthen our links with the social partners organised in the Working Groups that interact regularly with government.
Together with these partners, we must ensure that we achieve the goals that have already been agreed. These include such issues as higher levels of public and private investment, acceleration of the development of such sectors as agriculture, agro-industry, beneficiation of minerals, tourism, employment creation, black economic empowerment, skills development and generally increasing the competitiveness of our economy.
Despite the negative financial development we have mentioned, it remains true that we continued our steady advance towards the building of a vibrant economy and therefore the material base that will enable us further to improve our standard of living and the quality of life of all our people.
As we mark the 90th Anniversary of our movement, we must look forward to the tasks we have to accomplish during the critical decade that will take us to the Centenary of the ANC. This will give us a much-needed road map, dealing with all aspects of our national and international life, as we advance to the Year 2012.
Clearly, the guiding principle of this road map must be the objective to move forward decisively to eradicate the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid. This is the central aim that must inform the detailed work done daily by the vanguard movement for the social transformation of our country and Continent as well as our democratic state.
To ensure that we achieve this goal, we must set ourselves and our country bold but realistic goals to enable us to gauge the progress we are making. This will have to encompass all aspects of social activity, ensuring that we move forward in a balanced and integrated manner.
To discharge all these responsibilities, we must base our vision, programmes and actions on that historic manifesto of the people of South Africa, the Freedom Charter. This demands especially of our vanguard movement that we ensure that the Freedom Charter plays its role in the formation of the new South Africa as a living document.
Thus it must be responsive to the new situation that has emerged nationally and internationally, since it was adopted at the Congress of the People in 1955. The bold tasks it elaborated must be carried out within the context of the rapid changes that characterise modern human society.
The first of these tasks is stated in the unequivocal words - The People Shall Govern!
The democratic victory of 1994 is one of the outstanding achievements of our movement. It translated into reality the vision in the Freedom Charter that the people shall govern. Accordingly, one of our tasks during the next decade will be to defend and further entrench this important gain of our people.
Building on what we have already achieved, we must work to activate the masses of the people more directly to participate in our system of governance. We must translate into reality our vision of people-driven processes of change as well as the fundamental principle that the people are their own liberators.
We will therefore have to ensure that the system of participatory government already provided for with regard to local government is implemented and continually improved. Similarly, we will have to take all necessary steps to improve the interaction between the masses of the people and the provincial and national legislatures.
All this requires that the people have the greatest access possible to government information to improve their capacity to interact with all levels of government in the context of an open democracy. The government will therefore have to improve continuously its means of communication with the masses of the people and not merely those who have the privilege of possessing the necessary means to access government information and public institutions.
Similarly, we will have to attend to the improvement of the state machinery on a sustained basis so that it is both responsive to the needs of the people and accessible to these masses. Among other things, this requires that those who serve within the public service should have the necessary skills to provide the required goods and services as well as commitment to serve the people. The Freedom Charter similarly addresses the important issue of equality in our society. It therefore says - All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights, All National Groups Shall Have Equal Rights and also states that All Shall Be Equal Before The Law.
All this obliges us to sustain our offensive for the creation of a non-racial and non-sexist society, both of which are requirements contained in our national Constitution. It also means that we must work to ensure that the rights of children, the youth and the disabled are respected and enforced.
These interrelated struggles for real equality, and not merely the proclamation of a right, stand at the heart of our effort to create a new people-centred society. They encompass all aspects of our national life and touch everyone of our citizens. They require that we achieve the goal of equality in state and society through a sustained, integrated and open process of fundamental social transformation.
They dictate that we should eradicate the legacy of a racist and patriarchal society, which resulted in a situation of repugnant contempt, domination and discrimination for the overwhelming majority of our people. They require of us that we expunge from our society the immoral behaviour, which results in the victimisation and abuse of the weakest among us, the children, the disabled and the elderly.
The recognition of and respect for the national rights of all our people requires that we promote the languages and cultures of all our people, with none lesser than the other. This will give meaning to our national motto, !ke e: /xarra //ke, people who are different come together!
We have to wage an unrelenting struggle to ensure that all institutions and organs of state and all public institutions represent and pursue this ethos of equality and respect for human rights. This will require, among other things, that we rid the state machinery of parasitic elements that are intent on corrupt practice as well as those who continue to harbour and continue to act according to ideas of racial contempt and superiority derived from our racist past.
Equally, we will also have to wage this struggle within the private domain, especially the economy as well as society at large. This will require that we mobilise the masses of our people to engage in the struggle for equality in their millions, inspired by the vision spelt out in the Freedom Charter and our national Constitution. It will demand that we activate all patriotic formations to participate fully in the historic effort to transform a society that is still torn apart by enormous inequalities into one that will be truly representative of the new and unique civilisation foretold by Pixley Seme.
Our advances in this regard will both enhance the dignity of all our people and release the enormous energies that reside with the masses of the people. These creative energies are suppressed by the continuation of a system of power relations in our society, which denies many of our people the possibility fully to develop their talents and capabilities.
The Freedom Charter also visualises a standard of living for our people that would liberate them from poverty and want and the indignity of human deprivation.
Accordingly, it says - The People Shall Share In The Country's Wealth, and The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It. It goes on to state - There Shall Be Work and Security and There Shall Be Houses, Security And Comfort For All. Similarly, our national Constitution also guarantees the socio-economic rights of the people.
All this requires that we wage a sustained struggle on many fronts. We have to ensure that our economy grows and develops. It must provide the material base that will enable us to defeat the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment. It must create the jobs without which it will be impossible to defeat the scourge of poverty. Thus, we have to focus on the twin tasks of growth and equity.
We have to overcome the enormous racial, gender and geographic disparities that continue to exit in the distribution of wealth, income and opportunity. These disparities are themselves a fetter on the growth and expansion of the economy and wealth in our society.
Their eradication would therefore benefit all sectors of our society. We must therefore take on the task of mobilising all our people to contribute to the struggle to overcome them.
Our continuing struggle for a more equitable society, among other things, necessitates that we continue to focus on the related tasks of black economic empowerment and affirmative action, paying attention to such matters as access to productive wealth, including the land, as well as entrepreneurial skills.
We have to continue with the effort to ensure that this empowerment, while basing itself on sound business practices, benefits as many people as possible. At the same time, we must pay sustained attention to the issues of skills development in general, employment equity and health among all our people, with particular attention to infectious diseases, including AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
We should also encourage the emerging black business people to join their established business counterparts to extend their contact and interaction with the rest of our region and our Continent as a whole, participating in the processes our Continent is pursuing through NEPAD.
In terms of job creation, it is also critical that we use the opportunities created by, among others, the transformation taking place in the Department of Trade and Industry, the rural and urban renewal programmes and the recently adopted strategy on agriculture.
As part of our strategy to address the issue of land hunger, food security and job creation, we will have to implement this strategy with great vigour. This will include support to the new black farmers to ensure that they have the means to carry out their productive activities successfully.
The programmes we have mentioned should enable us to penetrate into many of our communities to give them the possibility themselves to create new economic opportunities. This is particularly important with regard to the continuing challenge of job creation.
Basing ourselves on the resources generated by a strong and growing economy, and while attending to this growth, we will have to ensure that we continue with our task of the redistribution of wealth directed at raising the standard of living of especially the poor in our society.
This means that we have to ensure that these masses also have access to houses, water and sanitation, electricity, health facilities, telecommunications, roads, affordable and efficient public transport and other social infrastructure, to end the situation of underdevelopment and to improve the social and economic well being of our population as a whole.
We also have to work hard radically to reduce the incidence of crime in our society, to increase the safety and security of all our citizens.
One of the major challenges we face and will continue to face to an increasing degree during the decade to the Centenary of the ANC, will be the fact of the process of globalisation.
Among other things, this means that our economy will become even more integrated within the world economy. There is no possibility that, ever again, ours can become a closed economy. It will therefore be subjected to even more competition from other economies, some of them more developed than our own.
These developments require that we develop our own strategic response that will ensure that we meet the obligations to our people identified in the Freedom Charter.
Critical in this regard is the matter of human resource development. We have to exert maximum effort to train the necessary numbers of our people in all the fields required for the development, running and management of modern economies. This, again, must be a national effort in which we should consider the necessary expenditures not as a cost but as an investment in our future.
Secondly, we have to ensure that as many of our people as possible master modern technologies and integrate them in their social activities, including education, delivery of services and economic activity. This relates in particular to communication and information technology.
Thirdly, we have to devote the necessary resources to scientific and technological research and development, including bio-technology. We must further encourage innovation among our people and ensue that we introduce new developments into our productive activities.
Fourth, while ensuring that we continue to develop a balanced economy, we must also identify and develop the lead sectors that will help us further to expand the base for creation of wealth and give us the possibility to compete successfully within the dynamic world economy.
Accompanying all this, must be a sustained campaign further to encourage the work ethic among all our people. We have to fight and overcome the attitude among some that they are entitled to receive free goods and services without any effort on their part to contribute to the creation of these goods and services. Without the production of wealth, there can be no redistribution of wealth.
The Freedom Charter also confronts us with an important challenge when it says - The Doors Of Learning And Culture Shall Be Opened.
This requires that we continue to concentrate on the issue of education at all levels and among all its forms. In particular, we will have to focus on the issue of the quality of the education and training given both to the young and the adults. This must measure up to the best in the world, properly equip our people with the knowledge and the skills to develop themselves and our country within the context of the challenges thrown up by the modern global village.
When the Freedom Charter refers to doors of culture being opened, it enjoins us to address such issues as our national identity and our value system. Historically categorised by previous dominant societies as savage and primitive, our liberation gives us the possibility to define ourselves and to fashion ourselves into a people characterised by pride in ourselves, love for everything that is good and beautiful in our past, and respect for all humanity in all its diversity.
The task of defining ourselves requires, among other things, that we should rediscover our past. We must be able to tell the story of our country's contribution to the evolution of the earth, life, humanity and human society. We must celebrate the immensely diverse flora and fauna and the ecological systems that make up our country.
We must rewrite our history so that we tell the truth about the inspiring things that remain hidden from our eyes. At the same time, not content to marvel at what has gone on before, but building on our heritage, we must "discover, develop, and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life".
At the same time, we should reach out to the world's culture, to learn about the other peoples, to access their works of imagination and learning, to enrich our own lives by drawing on the great treasures that all humanity has created.
The Freedom Charter says specifically that we should teach "the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace". These values should inspire all our people, both young and old. They should help us to recreate our society as one that abhors and fights against murder, other violent crimes against persons, the rape and abuse of women and children, and other crimes, including robbery.
We should work to ensure that in addition to improved law enforcement, we succeed to mobilise all our people to join as one to fight these crimes, especially those that violate the must vulnerable in our society, such as children, women, the disabled and the elderly.
The values contained in the Freedom Charter should inspire all of to cultivate a new patriotism based on a sense of community, respect for the dignity of every individual and a shared destiny. They should inform our conduct as we work to help build a world of freedom, peace and prosperity for all and equality among the nations, driven by the further entrenchment of human solidarity.
None of this will come of its own. We therefore need to encourage all our people to join a national movement that seeks to educate all of us to respond to the call made by the Freedom Charter towards a new patriotism, towards our ascent towards a state of learning and of culture.
Cognisant of the fact that we are but an inseparable part of the wider world, the Freedom Charter says - There Shall Be Peace And Friendship.
In this regard, the first call on us is contribute everything we can to ensure the success of the African Renaissance. We have to work with our African brothers and sisters to ensure that ours is a Continent of peace and friendship between and among all its peoples, of democracy, human rights, social progress and prosperity.
The two specific challenges we face are to work with the rest of our Continent to ensure the success of the African Union (AU) and NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development. Thus would the vision African patriots be realised, of the regeneration of Africa and the birth of a new civilisation.
Peace and Friendship among the peoples also requires that we work to end Africa's marginalisation in world affairs. This can only happen if, first of all, we tackle the challenges posed by the AU and NEPAD purposefully and successfully.
But it also requires that Africa play her role in the global system of governance that is emerging. Africa will therefore have to take her rightful place and discharge her responsibilities within such organisations as the UN, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
We have to work to ensure that the process of globalisation does not result in the further all-round widening of the gap between the rich and developed North and the poor, developing South, including our Continent. The reality is that this question will be answered during the decade of which we have spoken. Should this disparity continue to worsen during the next ten years, it would then prove impossible to close it.
This would condemn billions of people to poverty in a situation of even more enormous wealth in the rich countries and societies. This would be a certain recipe for the most catastrophic social upheavals engulfing the whole globe, a direct denial of the perspective projected by the Freedom Charter, of peace and friendship among the peoples.
In addition to the further strengthening of our links with the rest of our Continent on the basis of the AU and NEPAD, we must also continue our work of strengthening our country's relations both with the rest of the developing countries as well as the developed world.
In this process, we will continue to work for mutually beneficial system of international co-operation, equality among the nations, a just world order and international solidarity. The attainment of these objectives becomes particularly urgent in the light of the process of globalisation which, so far, has worked for the benefit of the few and allowed the many to fall further behind in terms of socio-economic development.
The urgency of and the imperative for this development emphasise the critical importance of peace within and among the nations. This poses important challenges for us. These include working for peace within our own Continent, and assisting in the resolution of conflicts elsewhere in the world, such as the conflict in the Middle East occasioned by the continued denial of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
Together with the rest of the world, we will have to work to defeat terrorism, such as we all experienced with the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, the September 11 attacks in the United States last year and the earlier bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
We must remain firm in the stand we took even during our own liberation struggle, that nothing can ever justify resort to the anti-human tactic of terrorism. Any deliberate act of warfare carried out against civilians should be punishable in international law to deter any who might think that their cause makes it possible for them to argue that they end they pursue justifies the murder of unarmed people.
We must also continue the struggle for the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. As long as these weapons exist, so long do they constitute a threat to international peace and security.
The rapidly growing interdependence among the nations and the attendant limitation of the sovereignty of states demands the creation or restructuring of the international system of governance. We have to ensure that the institutions of this system of governance, including the United Nations, are truly representative and democratic, enabling the smaller countries, including our own, to ensure that their voices are heard and their aspirations heeded.
The mere exercise of power by those who are powerful will not lead to a just and stable world. The demand for an equitable and democratic world order is not aimed against any country. It is focused on the building of a human universe that truly belongs to all those who are its members because they are human beings.
The realisation of the objective of global peace and friendship for which the Freedom Charter calls, requires that our movement, the ANC, should strengthen its links with the Africa and world progressive movement.
Together with and as part of this movement, we have to work for the mobilisation of the greatest numbers of people to ensure that a new world order of peace, prosperity and friendship emerges, enabling all countries and peoples, including our own as well as our Continent, to realise the objective of a better life for all.
>From its birth, the ANC has been internationalist in character. This is a tradition we must sustain and deepen. This is an urgent and necessary response to the rapid integration of human society under the impact of the process of globalisation. As a movement, we must advance and respond to the call - peoples of the world unite, for peace, prosperity and friendship!
Above, we have sought to spell out the perspective that must guide our work during the decade leading up to Year 2012 the Centenary of the Africa National Congress.
Each year, we must set ourselves various targets consistent with this perspective to ensure that we achieve real movement forward towards the objective of the eradication of the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid.
During this year, we must focus on the mobilisation of our people actually to engage in the process of continuing to be their own liberators, of occupying the frontline in the popular struggle for the reconstruction and development of our country. The various points of focus of this mobilisation indicate the specific tasks we have to carry out.
To help attain our goal, the membership of the ANC will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of our movement, the ANC, by taking the lead in rendering voluntary service to the people, to recapture the community spirit of letsema, ilima.
Historically, this spirit was fundamental to the strengthening of the cohesion of our societies. It encouraged cooperative effort and a collective commitment to the improvement of both the individual and society. It encouraged respect for every member of the community. The combined effort of the people made it possible for them to achieve results which no individual family could achieve on its own.
These are the values that we seek to restore to all our communities, while engaging in socially useful work. As a nation, we will have to find the means to encourage and reward such cooperative endeavours as part of the critical effort of building a new society based on a sound value system.
In this spirit, our membership will volunteer its services in keeping with the spirit of sacrifice and dedication demonstrated by the Volunteer Corps which led our people in the Defiance Campaign, whose 50th anniversary we observe this year, as well as the cadres who joined Umkhonto we Sizwe, formed 40 years ago last year.
Following today's celebrations each member of the ANC and every branch of our movement must participate in the matsema, that we will engage in, every month. At the same time, we must mobilise the people to join us in these activities.
We will also have to ensure that each of the programmes carried out in any particular month is sustained until the end of the year. This will require that we succeed to draw into the matsema large numbers of people.
For example, during January, we must lead the people in opening the doors of learning and culture. We will do this, among other things, by helping to improve the physical infrastructure and surroundings of our schools, protecting these places of learning form vandalism and creating an environment conducive to the entrenchment of the culture of learning, teaching and discipline.
Each month our branches will be called upon to lead voluntary activities to serve the people, as follows:
”¢ January Education;
”¢ February Safety and Security;
”¢ March Human Rights;
”¢ April Health;
”¢ May Rural, urban & community development;
”¢ June Youth development;
”¢ July African & international solidarity;
”¢ August Women's emancipation;
”¢ September Culture & heritage;
”¢ October the Rights of the Child; and,
”¢ November the Environment.
In July, as we celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the ANC, our country will host the last Summit Meeting of the OAU and the historic inaugural Summit Meeting of the African Union. In August and September, the peoples of the world will gather in Johannesburg to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
These two critically important conferences will require of us that we do everything possible to welcome our international guests and to ensure that both Summit meetings succeed. Many of our people will be requested to volunteer their services to achieve these objectives. We are confident that the example of voluntary service that our movement will have set will inspire others to respond positively to these requests.
In December, as we close the Year of our 90th Anniversary, the ANC will convene at its 51st National Conference. This Congress of our People, a successor to the historic Mangaung Founding Congress of 1912, will give us the possibility to review the period since the Mafikeng 50th National Conference.
It will give us the possibility critically to assess the progress we have made and the problems we have experienced. It will enable us to plan for both the next 5 years and the decade up to the Centenary Year of 2012. This will include the tasks of our democratic state as it enters its second decade after the year 2004.
Accordingly, as we implement our programme of action for the reconstruction and development of our country, we will also have to engage in extensive discussions throughout our movement properly to prepare for the National Conference.
Of particular importance during this year of our 90th Anniversary and the decade leading up to the Year 2012, will be the task of ensuring that we build up a membership that is well schooled in the strategy, tactics and tasks of our movement. This must be a membership of committed revolutionary cadres. Similarly, we must work to ensure that our cadre at leadership levels is properly equipped to carry out the complex tasks that the National Democratic Revolution requires of us.
In this context, we are proud and happy to convey our best wishes to our father, leader and comrade, Walter Sisulu, who also celebrates his 90th birthday this year. He has given all of us the necessary example of what it is to be a leader of the ANC and our people. All our leaders, at all levels, have a duty to follow the path he has already opened for us.
Like him, our membership must maintain close contact with the masses of our people and act to mobilise and lead them in the historic task to eradicate the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid.
It will also fall on this membership to pursue the goal that has always preoccupied our movement, the goal of the unity of the people and the unity of the democratic movement, for the total emancipation of all our people. It must work further to reinforce the unity of the people and the broad democratic movement behind the programme of the National Democratic Revolution.
It will therefore have to confront and defeat all tendencies that seek to divide and weaken both the people and the genuine forces of democracy and social transformation, including our Tripartite Alliance.
As a movement, we must also focus on the issue of unity within our own ranks on the basis of our Strategy and Tactics, our Constitution and our Programmes of Action. We must work further to strengthen our movement organisationally, focussing on our ward-based branches.
Our historic mission, to lead the people of South Africa to genuine and all-round liberation, requires that the people's movement itself, the ANC, should not waste its own energies on internal struggles that have nothing to do with the realisation of the mission. This is further underlined by the obligation we face, to lead the democratic government elected by a decisive majority of our people.
The masses of our people have repeatedly demonstrated their confidence in their movement, the ANC. This places an obligation on all our members and structures to live up to expectation of these masses and not disappoint them by using membership of the movement to pursue selfish interests that diverge from those of the people.
During the period ahead of us, we will also have to pay particular attention to the political upbringing of our youth to ensure that they are ready to continue the process of social transformation when the time comes.
We are proud of the genuine members of our movement who, during this past year, once again demonstrated their readiness to serve the people of South Africa. As happened last year, some of these have emerged as the most outstanding in various areas of our movement's activities.
We are pleased to announce this year's winners of our movement's prestigious awards.
The Sol Plaatjie Award conferred on the best performing ANC branch goes to Mthetho Ntlanganiso Branch in the Cape Town Region of the Western Cape. The runner-up branch is Ivory Park, North Branch from the Greater Johannesburg Region of Gauteng Province.
The Charlotte Maxeke Award conferred on the best performing ANC Women's League branch goes to Mlambo Ohlaza Branch from the Namaqua Region of the Northern Cape.
The runner-up branch is Moses Kotane Branch in the Cape Town Metro Region of the Western Cape.
The Anton Lembede Award conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branch goes to Matsulu Branch from the Ehlanzeni Region of Mpumalanga Province.
The runner-up is Ivory Park, North Branch from the Greater Johannesburg Region of Gauteng Province.
The Z.K. Matthews Award conferred on the best performing ANC local government councillors goes to the Letsimeng councillors in the Gariep Region of the Free State.
The runners-up are the Richmond councillors of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The National Executive Committee warmly congratulates the comrades who have won these distinguished awards that are named after some of the most outstanding heroes and heroines of our struggle. We call on them to continue with their good work and urge all other comrades throughout our movement to emulate them.
We also salute the runners-up, all of whom were close on the heels of those who took first place. They too have given us inspiring examples of what it is to be true cadres of our movement and agents of change in our society. Given that this is the occasion of the 90th Anniversary of our movement, the NEC will ensure that they receive special awards.
We also take this opportunity to lower our banners in respectful memory of eminent South Africans and patriots who passed away during this past year. These include comrades Govan Mbeki, Joe Modise, Bobby Tsotsobe, Thembani Phantsi, Sonia Bunting, Kate Zuma, Nokhanime "MaThomas" Thomas, Mduduzi Mbhele, Albert Dlomo, Mathews Meyiwa, Mbewa Molefe, Rogers Sishi and others. To all of them we say rest in peace. What you did for the nation will never be forgotten.
To honour all these outstanding revolutionaries and to mark the 90th Anniversary of the ANC and the 50th Anniversary of the Defiance Campaign, we are pleased to declare this, the Year of the Volunteer - for Reconstruction and Development. Let all who consider themselves as patriots respond to the call - with the people, for the people!
To all our people and to all our brothers and sisters throughout Africa, we say:
Africa Ke Nako!
Africa's Time Is Now!
The Struggle for National and Continental Renewal Continues!
Glory to the Victories of 90 years of Struggle!
Forward march, to the eradication of the legacy of racism, sexism, colonialism and apartheid!
Long live the African National Congress!
Amandla! Maatla! Matimba! Bemagtiging vir die mense! Power to the People!
God bless Africa!