On January 8th 2008, the African National Congress celebrated its 96th anniversary, marking nearly a century of proud and tireless struggle to advance the cause of freedom for all our people.
This occasion provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of this great movement as it has worked, together with the masses, first to defeat the apartheid system, and then to vanquish the legacy of racial oppression and gender inequality.
It provides an opportunity to recall the heroic and selfless acts of countless South Africans who, over several decades, fought with determination and principle for peace, democracy and human and people`s rights. They remain an example and inspiration to successive generations of freedom fighters as they grapple with the challenges of a changing terrain of struggle. We salute them today, these giants of our revolution, for what they have contributed to our nation and for the legacy they have left behind.
As is customary, this anniversary also provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of the moment, and to outline the tasks that the organisation must necessarily undertake to advance the historic mission of the African National Congress.
We undertake this important work having benefited from the deliberations and decisions of the 52nd ANC National Conference, held just a few weeks ago in Polokwane. This historic gathering of the highest structure of our movement adopted the policy and programme of the ANC for the next five years, providing a clear guide to all our structures, cadres and deployees.
The conference has also served to rejuvenate and invigorate our membership, instilling confidence and providing direction for the mass work that must be undertaken by all our branches. It has served also to unite the movement, providing a valuable platform to attend to the difficulties experienced in recent times.
As we noted in the Declaration of the 52nd National Conference:
"Flowing from five days of constructive and at times intense engagement, the integrity of the ANC and its democratic processes have emerged victorious. Eschewing dangers of division and discord that threatened to distract us from our historic mission, we emerged in unity to recommit ourselves to the tasks of reconstruction and development, nation building and reconciliation.
"As we conclude the business of conference we are inspired that we have emerged with welcome consensus on our strategic outlook and the detailed policies that will guide our movement for the next five years and beyond".
Before we outline the way forward as directed by Conference, we must start by underlining the extension of our gratitude, on behalf of the membership, to the former President of the ANC, Cde Thabo Mbeki and the National Executive Committee that led the organisation during the last five years. We will continue to draw on their expertise as we together, steer the movement forward in the fight against poverty, unemployment and bridging the gap between rich and poor.
The hard work that must be undertaken to implement the decisions of the 52nd National Conference begins today, and it must be done by all of us, as one united ANC.
KEY ANNIVERSARIES AND EVENTS
During the course of this year, our movement and our country will mark a number of important milestones; anniversaries of events in our past that have helped determine the course of our struggle and that have helped define the kind of society we are building today.
Among others, the milestones we will commemorate in 2008 include:
the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Bantu Women`s League of the ANC, an historical assertion of the central role of women in the struggle for liberation, and a seminal moment in the course of the struggle for women`s emancipation;
the 90th birthday of former ANC President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, an exceptional son of Africa who remains an inspiration and an example to millions in South Africa and around the world;
the 80th anniversary of the adoption by Communist Party of South Africa of the `Native Republic` resolution, which envisaged an independent republic with full and equal rights for all races;
the 60th anniversary of the formation of the ANC Women`s League, which galvanised women within the ANC into an organised grouping capable of advancing the interests of women within the movement and society;
the 60th anniversary of the ANC Youth League Policy Statement, adopted in 1948, which enunciated its stance on radical African Nationalism;
the 50th anniversary of the Sekhukhuneland revolt against `Bantu Authorities`, an act of defiance that served as a precursor to similar uprisings among the rural masses against apartheid impositions;
the 50th anniversary of Zeerust anti-pass campaign, in which large numbers of women burned their pass books, actions which were met with severe repression;
the 50th anniversary of the potato boycott, which drew attention to the harsh and repressive conditions under which farm labourers worked and lived;
the 25th anniversary of the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF), a critical moment in the deepening of internal resistance and mobilisation that contributed to the collapse of the apartheid system;
the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Rick Turner by agents of the apartheid state, whose death robbed South Africa of one of its most strident anti-apartheid campaigners and political thinkers;
the 20th anniversary of the Khotso House bombing, a desperate attempt by the apartheid regime to destabilise the work of leading human rights groups;
the 20th anniversary of the defeat of the SADF at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which marked a turning point in the apartheid war of aggression against the people of Angola, contributing to the achievement of Namibian independence, and providing impetus to the process that led to the negotiated end of apartheid. We use this occasion to salute the sons and daughters of the Cuban people who laid down their lives in the fight for our freedom.
We note these important anniversaries, which we will mark with activities during the course of the year, to highlight the consistency and continuity of our struggle over time, and to pay tribute to the achievements of those who have come before us.
These important events also serve to remind us of the tasks that we must still undertake to bring into existence a national democratic society, in which all our people are able to enjoy the freedom for which so many have sacrificed.
A CALL FOR UNITY
If we are to successfully advance our vision of a national democratic society, we must pay particular attention to the unity and cohesion of the movement.
The unity of the movement is paramount. The great strength of the ANC over its 96 years of struggle has been its ability to unite the people of South Africa and to itself remain a united, coherent organ of popular action.
The ANC belongs to all its members equally. Membership or leadership of the ANC must never be used to marginalise or exclude others.
The ANC has found ways, even in the face of the most daunting circumstances, to embrace diversity and manage differences. We acknowledge that the past few months and years have placed the unity of the ANC under great strain. We concede that the contestation of leadership positions, an important and necessary part of our democratic processes, served at times to fuel a perception of discord within our ranks.
We have in recent times witnessed behaviour and heard statements that are at odds with the culture and traditions of our movement and some which sought to subvert the democratic traditions of our movement. We have also withstood pressure from many quarters who have sought the fragmentation of our movement.
The 52nd National Conference pronounced itself clearly and unambiguously on this matter. It has set the tone, and described the line of march, for all our cadres, regardless of their views, perspectives or leadership preferences.
"The ANC has emerged the winner, as a disciplined force of the left committed to constructing a better life for all. We have also emerged with a leadership collective to which we all pay allegiance, and which we confident will lead us in unity towards our centenary in 2012...
"The strategic vision and resolutions of National Conference constitute a mandate that will guide the actions of all cadres of the ANC, wherever they may be deployed, and which will form the centrepiece of our policy agenda over the next five years."
It is this strategic vision that we must begin to implement in 2008, as a united movement in pursuit of a single goal, the total liberation of all our people.
We recall the words of Cde OR Tambo on his return to South Africa in 1990, when he said:
"I have devotedly watched over the organisation all these years. I now hand it over to you; bigger; stronger - intact. Guard our precious movement."
AN HISTORIC MOMENT IN THE STRUGGLE FOR GENDER EQUALITY
We begin 2008, charged with implementing a historic decision that constitutes a crucial moment in our struggle for the achievement of gender equality, both within our movement and in society.
The decision by Conference to adopt a policy of gender parity within all structures of the movement has served to deepen our efforts to confront sexism, gender inequality and discrimination. Beginning with the NEC, all ANC structures will have a minimum of 50 percent representation of women.
We salute the membership of the ANC for continuing to provide leadership in the struggle for gender equality, serving as not only an example to broader South African society, but also providing an example of international best practice.
This decision is recognition that patriarchy will only be defeated through conscious, resolute and consistent action by men and women alike.
We are reminded at this moment of the words of the late ANC President, Comrade OR Tambo, when he said in 1981:
"Women in the ANC should stop behaving as if there was no place for them above the level of certain categories of involvement. They have a duty to liberate us men from antique concepts and attitudes about the place and role of women in society and in the development and direction of our revolutionary struggle."
This Conference decision is a response to the challenge OR Tambo put before the women and men of the ANC over 20 years ago. This decision is not the end of the struggle for the emancipation of women. Rather it is a springboard for a concerted, all-round effort to tackle sexism in all its forms and manifestations.
PROGRAMME FOR TRANSFORMATION
On the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the movement, in 2002, we said that our programme and action during the decade preceding our centenary should be based on that historic manifesto of the people of South Africa, the Freedom Charter.
Proceeding from the vision contained in the Freedom Charter, the 52nd National Conference has served to clarify the programme of action of the movement for the next five years. The activities we engage in during the course of 2008 will form the foundation of this programme. It is therefore critical that we pay due attention to the implementation without delay of the resolutions of Conference. The progress we make during the course of this year will set the pace of change for the remaining years up until the ANC`s centenary in 2012.
The Conference has committed the organisation to a broad range of endeavours over the next five years, all of which are comprehensively described in the Conference resolutions. We urge all ANC members to study these resolutions in detail, as they must necessarily form the basis for all our work in the months and years ahead.
We reiterate that there should not be any apprehension about relations between the ANC and its government, which may hinder implementation. We are aware of the responsibility to ensure smooth working relations, and we cannot fail the nation in this regard. ANC members outside government will not be allowed to undermine those in the government. Those deployed in government cannot undermine the ANC. Should this happen, we will take very serious action. The NEC will be holding its annual planning Lekgotla from 18-20 January, at which some of these issues will be thrashed out.
For the purposes of this statement, whose task is to highlight the key priorities for the next 12 months, we will cover some of the main areas of our programme for transformation.
THE PEOPLE SHALL SHARE IN THE COUNTRY`S WEALTH!
As we noted in Polokwane, we have made substantial progress since 1994 in transforming the economy to benefit the majority.
We have created conditions for the longest expansion of the South African economy in recorded history; the rate of growth averaging over 4.5% every year since 2004. Though still high, unemployment has begun to decline.
Since 2004, the number of employed people has been increasing by about half a million each year. This, together with the extension of social security and basic infrastructure and the distribution of assets to the poor, has led to a significant reduction in the level of severe poverty and improvements in the quality of life for millions of our people.
Improved macroeconomic conditions, reduced government debt and improved revenue collection has meant that greater resources are available for social and investment programmes, providing an opportunity, among other things, for a massive public sector infrastructure programme.
However, serious challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality remain.
Answering these challenges means that we must simultaneously accelerate economic growth and transform the quality of that growth. Conference said:
"Our most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty is the creation of decent work. Moreover, the challenges of poverty and inequality require that accelerated growth takes place in the context of an effective strategy of redistribution..."
During the course of this year, we must make the creation of decent work opportunities the primary focus of our economic policies. We need to make maximum use of all the means at our disposal, as the leading party in government, to achieve this. This objective should be reflected in the orientation and programmes of development finance institutions and regulatory bodies; through government procurement policies; in the sequencing of industrial and trade policy reforms; and in our macroeconomic policy stance.
We must work to further absorb the unemployed by promoting labour-intensive production methods and procurement policies, a significant expansion of public works programmes (linked to the massive expansion of economic infrastructure and meeting social needs), and an enlarged national youth service.
Accelerating growth and transforming the economy require a democratic developmental state that is able to lead in the definition of a national economic agenda, and mobilise society and direct resources towards achieving this agenda.
While acting to promote growth, efficiency and productivity, it must be equally effective in addressing the social conditions of the masses of our people and realising economic progress for the poor.
The developmental state should maintain its strategic role in shaping the key sectors of the economy. This means that we need to continue this year to strengthen the role of state owned enterprises and agencies in advancing our overarching industrial policy and economic transformation objectives.
As Conference has noted, the building of small and micro enterprises, including cooperatives, is also a critical developmental challenge, which requires the state to deploy resources to build capacity and institutions.
As we work to grow and transform our economy, we must recognise that climate change is a new threat on a global scale that places an enormous burden on especially the poor.
We must therefore proceed without delay to implement our resolutions on climate change, particularly with respect to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
The transformation of the economy to serve the interests of all our people requires of the ANC that we mobilise all sectors of society - communities, civil society, labour and business, in particular - behind a national agenda for accelerated and shared growth. The ANC, as a movement, cannot be a bystander. It needs to rally society behind this all-important effort.
TACKLING POVERTY AND UNDERDEVELOPMENT
This effort, which has as its objective the defeat of poverty, needs to be complemented by immediate measures to respond directly to the situation in which our people find themselves today.
While many families have access to social grants and other poverty alleviation programmes, many households and communities remain trapped in poverty, are dependent on the state and are thus unable to access the opportunities created by an improving economic climate.
Key Development Indicators published by government last year show that poverty has indeed been reduced since the ANC-led government was elected, especially after 2000. In real terms, the income of the poorest has improved. The percentage of the population living under R3, 000 a year decreased from 52% to 43%. More than 12 million people now receive social grants, out of which 8, 1 million are children. However the rate of income increase for the poor has not matched that of the better off, so income inequality has increased.
Among the challenges that we therefore face is to respond effectively to the massive income inequality that continues to bedevil our society as we continue to make progress in pushing back the frontiers of poverty.
Our responses to poverty must seek to empower people to access economic opportunities, while creating a comprehensive social safety net to protect the most vulnerable in our society. We will accelerate the process of introduction of a mandatory retirement scheme.
Education and health must be prioritised as the core elements of social transformation.
During the course of this year, we need to further enhance our efforts to improve the conditions of children and youth in poverty. We will need to attend to a number of Conference resolutions, including the proposal to gradually extend child support grants to 18 years, the development of a comprehensive strategy on early childhood development, and the progressive expansion of the school nutrition programme to include high school learners in poorer communities.
Our focus this year on the situation of youth should take account of the Conference resolutions on a National Youth Development Agency and the implementation of the integrated youth development strategy.
THE DOORS OF LEARNING AND CULTURE SHALL BE OPENED!
Over the next five years we need to undertake a concerted ANC-led campaign to support and promote the continued transformation of education.
This is a task that necessarily requires a longer view. Education must be elevated from being a departmental issue, or even a government issue, to a societal issue - one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people.
Education is fundamental to the achievement of the society envisaged in the Freedom Charter.
Teachers are the critical element in our important task of ensuring quality education for all children. When our people faced the oppressive impact of Bantu Education, it was teachers who stood up and ensured that we confounded the architects of apartheid by producing doctors, lawyers and engineers. Now that we are free, we need a similar resolute commitment. Our teachers must commit to a set of non-negotiables - to be in school, in class, on time, teaching, no abuse of learners and no neglect of duty.
Similarly, we commit to restore, uphold and promote the status of teachers by remunerating them as professionals and improving the conditions in which they work.
As we undertake this massive task, we must focus in particular on developing the capacity of our teachers, improving the capabilities of our existing educators while training a new generation of teachers equipped with the enthusiasm, values and skills that will be needed to build a new education system. Among other things, this requires a fresh approach to quality teacher training.
We need to pay particular attention to improving the access of poor South Africans to quality education, in particular, intensifying our effort to progressively introduce free and compulsory education for the poor until undergraduate level. As part of this, we must work to implement the resolution that 60% of all schools achieve "no-fee" status by 2009.
This year will see the launch by government of a National Mass Literacy Campaign, which will see 80,000 tutors engaged to enable 4, 7 million adults to achieve basic literacy and numeracy by 2012. As the ANC, we must applaud this initiative, and work to ensure its success. We must encourage people to participate in this campaign, and provide whatever assistance we can at a local level to facilitate its implementation.
In this regard, we offer our congratulations to the matriculants of 2007, for their hard work and dedication, and to the parents, teachers and officials who provided support and encouragement.
These results indicate, however, that there is still a long path that needs to be traveled before we can achieve a pass rate appropriate to the requirements of a successful nation.
To reach our destination, we need to begin now to respond to the challenges of education, and revive the proud tradition of activism that was once the hallmark of education struggles.
The achievement of better health for all is an important part of improving the quality of life of poor South Africans. This year, progress needs to be made in the implementation of the National Health Insurance System by further strengthening the public health care system and ensuring adequate provision of funding.
We must acknowledge that much is wrong in our public health care system. Though progress has been made, the country is still faced with significant challenges with respect to the quality of care provided; the physical infrastructure, maintenance and management of public health facilities; the working conditions and remuneration of doctors, nurses and other health care workers; and the inequitable distribution of health care resources.
Government should pay particular attention to the high cost of health provision, including measures to curb medicine prices. Proposals to establish a state-owned pharmaceutical company need to be further explored.
We need to accelerate programmes for hospital revitalisation, including through partnerships with the private sector, as part of the broader ongoing programme to improve the quality of care and expanding access to health services.
We are encouraged by the recent progress in strengthening the nation-wide partnership against HIV and AIDS, and in expanding access to a comprehensive programme of treatment and care in public health facilities.
We face the challenge of ensuring the successful implementation of the HIV and AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011. We are confident that, through collective action, and by deploying all the means at our disposal, we will be able to achieve the targets we have set to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by 50 percent, and expand access to appropriate treatment, care and support to 80% of all HIV-positive people, by 2011.
This year, we need to intensify our efforts, focusing in particular on the key priority areas of prevention; treatment, care and support; research, monitoring, and surveillance; and human rights and access to justice. The ANC and government must renew efforts and take the lead in mobilising communities and all sectors of society to promote responsible sexual behaviour, encourage regular voluntary testing and counselling, improve the access of all to appropriate care and treatment and to support healthy lifestyles. Our branches must also play a visible role in providing care and support to individuals and families in distress, and in working to eliminate the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS.
THE LAND SHALL BE SHARED AMONG THOSE WHO WORK IT!
Conference recognised the geographical disparities that still plague our nation, which, unless consciously addressed, will continue to stifle the development of large sections of our population. People living in rural areas, particularly those in the former bantustans, daily face the harshest conditions of poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to services.
This underlines the necessity of effective rural development programmes, ensuring that investment in infrastructure, services and training reaches those areas of the country that have been most adversely affected.
We need to advance the agrarian revolution we spoke of at conference. We need to accelerate the process of land redistribution and ensure that the necessary support is provided to beneficiaries of the land reform process to enable them to make productive use of this valuable national resource. During this year, we need to make progress in the implementation of the outcomes of the National Land Summit and our Conference resolutions with respect to foreign ownership of land; allocation of customary land; and the review of the willing-buyer, willing-seller approach.
Unless we attend to these issues, the most basic needs of the poorest of our people, we will fall short of our objectives, no matter how successful our efforts to create decent work.
THERE SHALL BE HOUSES, SECURITY AND COMFORT!
The development of integrated human settlements is a critical element in our fight against poverty and in improving the quality of life of our people. There are a number of Conference resolutions that we will need to implement, including the issue of a Housing Development Agency, legislation to address the proliferation of informal settlements, interventions to curb the costs of construction, and a central planning approach for directing resource allocation to human settlements.
Branches of the ANC need during the course of 2008 to identify and work to remove those obstacles that continue to limit access of our people to poverty alleviation programmes. We need to ensure that all South Africans over the age of 16 have ID books, and that all those who qualify for social grants receive them. We need to put in place local campaigns to inform communities about the resources and services that are available to them.
In last year`s January 8th Statement we said that we needed to make every possible effort decisively to tackle the scourge of crime, drawing on the resources and capacity of all sectors of society. As a nation, we can draw strength from the progress that has been made since then to limit the ability of criminals to undermine our society and violate the right of our people to safety and security.
But the struggle is far from over. During the course of 2008, we must sharpen our anti-crime campaign. We need, this year, to build on the work already done to mobilise our communities more effectively to beat crime. Conference took a number of decisions that will enhance our efforts to forge safer communities. These relate to the structure and functioning of different elements of the criminal justice system, but also, importantly, to the role of mass mobilisation in the fight against crime.
We reaffirmed our commitment to the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, and the principle of equality before the law, following the January 7th NEC meeting. The NEC stated that these principles require that the institutions of state are able to fulfil their constitutional mandate without fear or favour, as it requires them to respect the rights and dignity of all individuals charged or under investigation. Also of importance is the question of impartiality and fairness in the execution of their mandate.
As we closed Conference a few weeks ago, we called on all ANC branches to actively lead, champion and facilitate crime prevention strategies. In reviving the culture of mass mobilisation, we must seek active partnerships with civil society, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisation and all other formations, to form a broad front against crime and all social ills afflicting our communities.
We will seek to work with religious formations and traditional leadership throughout the country - from urban areas to the countryside, to intensify the struggle against crime. We also acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing contribution of the business sector in the fight against this scourge.
As stated at Conference, we should look again at the positive role that street committees could play in making our neighbourhoods safer places, with the addition of village committees. We need to also support and encourage participation in Community Safety Forums so that they become centres of coordination. We cannot allow criminality and lawlessness to undermine our hard-won freedoms and hinder the progress of our nation. We must act now, and act together.
THERE SHALL BE PEACE AND FRIENDSHIP!
During the course of 2008, the movement needs to continue, and deepen, its work towards the achievement of a better Africa and a better world. It is necessary to acknowledge the advances that have been made - through government and through the structures of the organisation - in forging ties with progressive forces on the continent and further afield.
The situation in the world has changed radically over recent years. More and more people live in democratic societies. A number of protracted conflicts in Africa have been brought to an end and mechanisms are in place towards a peaceful resolution of conflict.
However, the process of globalisation presents many challenges, particularly to countries in the developing world, serving to entrench disparities in wealth and influence. This places poor countries in a vulnerable position. African countries are particularly prone to foreign pressure and interference as rich countries seek to gain access to the continent`s substantial mineral and energy resources.
We need to continue our work with like-minded governments and organisations to develop international institutions, rules and norms that will contribute to a more equitable world order. We must consolidate south-south relations through, among other things, continued engagement with India, Brazil and China.
Through our involvement in the African Union and other multilateral bodies, and through bilateral interaction with other parties, we need to do what we can to assist the peaceful resolution of all remaining conflicts on the continent and promote the building of democratic institutions.
We remain concerned about the parts of our continent where conflict persists and where peaceful resolutions remain elusive. During the course of the year ahead, we hope to see progress in finding lasting solutions to conflicts that continue, among others, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Somalia and Burundi.
The ANC confirms its support for the African Union position against the seizure of power through unconstitutional means. We remain steadfast in our opposition to interference with the democratic right of people to elect a government of their choice, to vote rigging, or any dishonest means of attaining power. As Africans we must continue to work in 2008 to eradicate such practices from our continent.
As we meet, we are bound to express our deep concern at the situation in Kenya, which has severe political, social, economic and humanitarian implications. We are concerned in particular about the loss of life, homes and livelihoods that have been visited upon ordinary Kenyans in recent days. We urge all parties to cooperate in the process of finding a just, peaceful and lasting solution to this crisis.
The process of forging economic integration on the African continent will continue during the course of this year. Of great significance is the intention to proceed with the implementation of the SADC Free Trade Area, an event that will greatly enhance the economic development of the Southern African region and contribute to improving the capacity of the countries of the region to respond to the needs of their people.
We need, as Conference has resolved, to embark on a programme to strengthen the progressive movement in Africa and formalise relations with the global progressive movement in particular Latin America and East Asia. This should include efforts to hold a meeting of progressive parties and movements in Africa, with a view to holding an international meeting of progressive parties and movements across the globe within the next five years.
Within this context, we welcome the revival of the Pan African Women`s Organisation (PAWO), of which the ANC Women`s Section was among the founder members in 1962. We therefore look forward to hosting the next conference of PAWO in South Africa on 14-17 February 2008. This important event will mark a milestone in the ongoing struggle for the emancipation of women on the continent.
TASKS OF THE MOVEMENT
If we are to successfully undertake the tasks mentioned above, and implement the resolutions adopted by our 52nd National Conference, we need to pay particular attention to the state of the structures of our movement and the capacity of its cadres to prosecute the national democratic revolution.
The NEC has been tasked by Conference with establishing a period of renewal of the values, character and organisational practices of the ANC as a leading force for progressive change in our country.
This is necessary as part of our collective response to the challenges the organisation has encountered as a consequence of the changing conditions of our struggle.
While the ANC`s organisational strengths have included an ability to broaden its appeal beyond its traditional support base and adapt to mass work under new conditions, it has acquired a number of "accumulated weaknesses".
As Conference indicated, these weaknesses include:
an inability to effectively deal with new tendencies arising from being a ruling party, such as social distance, patronage, careerism, corruption and abuse of power;
ineffective management of the interface between the movement and the state;
a flawed approach to membership recruitment;
a decline in ideological debate among cadres; and,
a lack of institutional resources to give practical effect to the movement`s leadership role.
In the run-up to Conference, the process of leadership contestation seriously tested the ANC`s unity and cohesion, core values, character, and tried and tested organisational practices.
Part of the programme of renewal should be a mass political education campaign to be undertaken at branch level within six months to report back on the substantive Conference outcomes, and to consolidate common approaches and unity within the movement.
In the January 8th statement 2007, we noted that, as the most basic and most important structure of the ANC, our branches must receive the support and assistance of all levels of the organisation. This, we said, requires the involvement of all cadres of the movement, wherever they may be located or deployed, in the activities of the branch.
We must acknowledge that many of our members, including those who have been in the movement for decades, have not heeded the call, `All cadres to the branch`, which we made last year. We must make this a priority for 2008.
Leadership collectives at all levels need to intensify branch work in each community through the Imvuselelo campaign, to ensure sustainable mass work and establish ANC branches as vanguards of their communities, and to make branches the focus of political and ideological work of senior leadership and cadreship of the movement.
Through years of experience, we know that the surest way to build an organisation is through political work that involves all its members. We must therefore prioritise mass campaigns at a local level. Our branches need to be involved in the daily struggles of our people, providing leadership in popular campaigns to confront the challenges that most directly affect our people. We cannot claim to be a mass movement unless we are genuinely engaged in struggle alongside our people.
This mass work must be closely related to the work being undertaken by our cadres deployed as public representatives and officials in all spheres of government, but most importantly at a local level. We need to ensure that the challenges of service delivery are addressed in a systematic, determined and transparent manner; at all times working to involve communities in resolving problems and overcoming whatever obstacles may exist.
Though their causes may vary from one area to another, the so-called "service delivery" protests that we have witnessed in various parts of the country point to a failure on the part of the movement to remain engaged with communities and effectively involve them in local decision-making and development.
Work needs to begin this year towards the establishment of an ANC Veterans League. This development should help to strengthen the branches of the movement by involving the most experienced and tested ANC members in the organisational life of the organisation in a more systematic manner. This process needs to be completed before the centenary of the ANC in 2012.
Another of the key organisational priorities for the next five years, to which we need to attend during the course of this year, is the establishment of the Political School. It should focus on cadre development, facilitating continuous accumulation of knowledge, and contributing to the ideological renewal of the movement. The school should run on a formal and professional basis, offering accredited courses covering all areas of ANC work.
During 2008, work needs to be undertaken to build the capacity of regions and provinces to run and deliver political education courses on a mass scale for branches, with curriculum development, training materials and training of facilitators done centrally; and with modernised methods of delivery, including distance education technology.
Induction should be conducted for all constitutionally elected structures at all levels, ensuring that all senior deployed cadres in various centres go through political classes to understand the vision, programme and ethos of the movement. Elected leadership should also attend compulsory political education classes to aid continuous learning and debate.
Earnest work must be undertaken in the coming months towards the establishment of the Policy Institute. The infrastructure for the institute is now in place. We need to proceed now to provide the institute with the human and other capacity it will require to make it an effective resource for the organisation. It should link closely to NEC committees, and should enhance the capacity of branches to fulfill their role in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of ANC policy.
This work is particularly important as the organisation begins preparations for the 2009 elections, and in the process of formulating an election manifesto that both reflects on the progress made to date and outlines the policy priorities that would form the basis for a fresh mandate from the people.
In line with the Conference decision that the National Policy Conference should become a consultative body for the development of the ANC`s election manifesto, we should prepare to convene such a forum later this year.
STRENGTHEN THE ALLIANCE AND DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
The 52nd National Conference once again reaffirmed the relevance of the Alliance, united in action for the joint programme of social transformation, using its collective strength to continue to search better ways to respond to the new challenges.
Over the last decade or more the Alliance has faced unprecedented challenges. We need to openly confront the roots of our difficulties, correct our errors, and move on to build our Alliance, not as a historical relic or curiosity, but a living organism of people`s power. We need to close the chapter of tension and mistrust, and open a new chapter of unity in action, mutual respect by all Alliance partners, and, most importantly, build the Alliance as a powerful vehicle to advance and deepen our revolution.
The Alliance and mass democratic movement represent the organisational expression of people`s power to liberate themselves. These organs were built to empower our people to be their own liberators and played a vital role in the defeat of apartheid, under the leadership of the ANC. The role of the masses as their own liberators remains fundamentally important as we deepen and consolidate the national democratic revolution.
The Alliance and the mass democratic movement are more relevant in current conditions than ever before. While we pursue the democratic revolution under different conditions, the role of the mass formations and the ANC`s responsibility to lead, harness and marshal the democratic movement remains valid.
Despite difficulties faced by the Alliance in the last ten years, the ANC and its allies remain committed to the Alliance. Our allies are conscious of the fact that the Alliance is the only vehicle able to drive the transformation of our society in keeping with the ideals of the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme. The ANC emerges from the 52nd National Conference with a strong commitment to maintaining the Alliance, ensuring a platform for effective and open engagement, and a determination to work tirelessly to resolve the difficulties that have faced the Alliance.
Like many movements, the Alliance has faced serious challenges particularly in the last ten years. Serious tensions emerged among components of the Alliance particularly on economic policy and the role of the Alliance in the post-apartheid period. However, all the allies recognised that it would only be in the interests of the opponents of the NDR if we failed to resolve whatever differences have emerged. The ANC, in particular, as leader of the Alliance has a duty to find lasting solutions, working with our allies, to the difficulties that face the Alliance.
The task facing us is difficult but not insurmountable. The commitment of Cosatu and the SACP to the Alliance serves as a strong basis to confront the challenges facing us. The ANC commits itself to leave no stone unturned, starting with the planned Alliance Summit, to unify the Alliance and to ensure that it remains a coherent movement. While we may not agree on everything, the areas of difference should not be allowed to fester and widen the gap in the Alliance.
Our task now is to synchronise the policy resolutions from our respective conferences into a coherent strategy for a progressive developmental state. We must collectively reflect on the achievements of our first decade of freedom, and the challenges that we still confront, so as to emerge with a development programme suited to the current conditions and aimed at meeting our 2014 targets to halve poverty and unemployment. This should then set the tone for our election manifesto in 2009. Second, we must set out a programme for mass mobilisation and political education aimed at placing the masses to the centre of our strategy. Events of the last few years show that if we fail in this task, other forces will occupy the space we leave to mobilise our people.
The ANC is also acutely aware of the state of our diverse mass movement from the youth, women, students, and the civics, to mention just a few. As the leaders of the revolution the ANC has a duty to lead these disparate forces. We salute and are encouraged by the emergence of the Progressive Women`s Movement, which we hope will emulate the example of the women who marched to the Union Buildings more than fifty years ago. We must build the women`s movement into a mass movement for all women, particularly the poor and the working class, who still bear the brunt of colonial oppression, patriarchal domination and class exploitation.
The ANC further has a responsibility to rebuild SANCO as a dynamic civic movement that leads the struggle of communities for a better life for all. A weak SANCO means a weak ANC and Alliance, and therefore no effort should be spared to revitalise the civic movement.
We salute our ANC Youth League and student movement for their sterling work to mobilise young people and deepen their political consciousness. The ANC has a responsibility to support the efforts of our youth and student movement to mobilise young people into the national democratic revolution. As Comrade OR Tambo once said: "A nation, a movement, a people that does not value its youth, does not deserve its future"
We must also build a vibrant trade union movement working with our ally, COSATU. Millions of workers do not enjoy the rights enshrined in the Constitution and our labour laws as they have been casualised or sub-contracted. Farm and domestic workers still do not enjoy the many rights granted to all workers. Faced with this reality, we have no option but to support efforts to organise all workers into COSATU.
The task we face in 2008 is to reconnect with and rebuild the mass movement and to close the gap that has emerged within the Alliance and between the Alliance and the State.
We must also work closely with other sectors such as traditional and religious leaders who provide leadership and support to thousands of our people.
We are pleased to announce the winners of the ANC Achievement Awards for 2007:
The Sol Plaatje Award, conferred on the best performing ANC branch, goes to the Magonare Branch, Ngaka Modiri Molema region in North West. The runner-up is the Montshiwa Branch, Central region in North West.
The Charlotte Maxeke Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Women`s League branch, goes to the MB20 Branch, Ehlanzeni region in Mpumalanga. The runner-up is the Chris Hani Branch, Bohlabela Region in Mpumalanga.
The Anton Lembede Award, conferred on the best performing ANC Youth League branch, goes to the Ike Mapoto Branch, Capricorn Region in Limpopo. The runner-up is Ward 22 in Bushbuckridge, Bohlabela Region in Mpumalanga.
The ZK Matthews Award, conferred on the best performing group of ANC councillors goes to the ANC councillors of the Bophirima District Municipality in North West.
The runners-up are the councillors of the Steve Tshwete Municipality in Mpumalanga.
From January 2009, we hope to be in a position to confer the inaugural loyal service awards to honour veterans and other cadres who have displayed outstanding and loyal service and disciplined conduct over 30 years and more. These will be awarded annually, on the anniversary of the formation of the ANC.
We take this opportunity to pay tribute to the patriots who passed away during the past year. Among those who made an outstanding contribution to the struggle for freedom and dignity for all in South Africa who left us in the last year are Comrades Adelaide Tambo, Alven Bennie, Percy Sonn, Norman Mashabane, Edgar Ngoyi, Temba Wellington Sobandla, Eve Hall, Dickson Fuyani, Andile Yawa, Barney Tiyo, Ntai Mokoena, Thandi Mtsweni, Johanna Jiyane, Rider Mofokeng, Yunus Mahomed, Slumber Jayiya, Flora Masakona, Billy Sehlapelo, Mlungisi Sisulu and Leslie Monnanyane.
We mourn their passing, and once again pass on to their families, friends, colleagues and comrades the heartfelt sympathies and condolences of the African National Congress.
In honouring these heroes of our revolution, and to deepen and accelerate the vision to which they dedicated their lives, the ANC National Executive Committee declares 2008, "The Year of Mass Mobilisation to Build a Caring Society. Advance in Unity Towards 2012".
There are many other milestones to look forward to in the coming months, especially in the sporting field. Key amongst these is the 2010 Soccer World Cup. We will work closely with the Local Organising Committee to provide the support that is required to make this the most spectacular sports event our country has ever hosted!
In that vein, we wish Bafana Bafana well as they prepare to do battle in Ghana in the African Cup of Nations tournament. The instruction is simple. Bring the Cup back home.
We also congratulate the new Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers on his appointment. We wish him all the best in managing this national treasure that returned the Rugby World Cup to us last year!
Let us prepare for a year of hard work!