Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Moral Vision of the ANC and the Economic Outlook for South Africa

Letter from the President Jacob Zuma

The moral vision of the ANC

Reprinted From the ANC Today
March 6-9, 2009

This week we lodged our list of candidates with the Independent Electoral Commission. These public representatives are called upon to serve the people of our country diligently and with dignity.

We have emphasised that the post-2009 election administration will improve on the work of previous ones in terms of implementation. We have had a highly successful 15 years of governance. Our government has made much progress in the provision of housing, water and electricity to millions of homes.

Our economy has grown. More jobs have been created during this period than in any other time in our history and we have deepened our democracy. We have extended social protection to millions of South Africans through the provision of social grants. More still needs to be done, and working together, we can do more.

One of the areas that we will focus on more strongly is nation building. The ANC will work to promote the vision of a united South African nation, sharing common positive values, as enshrined in our Constitution.

Our Constitution, inspired by the vision of the Freedom Charter, unites a nation of many languages and significant cultural, religious and socio-economic diversity.

We have noticed the current debate around moral values and the claims by some political parties to be more morally upright than others. The ANC's moral vision and morality dates back many decades and remains as relevant now as it was in 1912.

The Rev ZR Mahabane, the third President of the ANC, articulated what became the ANC's moral vision in his speech entitled "We are not political children" in 1912. He observed that African people were landless, voteless, homeless, and hopeless and had been deprived of their humanity and the right to decide their future. He maintained that in such circumstances the ANC had to strive to restore the humanity (Ubuntu/Botho) of the African people as a prerequisite for the restoration of the humanity of the people of South Africa as a whole.

The ANC later developed the 1923 and 1943 Bills of Rights, which further articulated the liberation movement's moral focus. The ANC's moral vision found its final definition in the Freedom Charter, basing it on our mission to work for a better life for all.

Decades later, the Interim Constitution of 1993 traced its moral values directly to the philosophy of Ubuntu, which is central to the ANC's moral vision. The 1996 Constitution of the country rooted its values in human dignity and its inherent values of equality, freedom and justice for all.

These shared values are captured in both the preamble and founding provisions. Our Constitution is therefore a value-based supreme law of the land which:

-provides for reconciliation and the creation of a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;
-lays the foundation for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and in which every citizen is equally protected by the law;
-promotes the improvement of the quality of life of all citizens and frees the potential of each person;
-builds a united and democratic South Africa, able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

The Constitution embodies the values of a just and caring society. Our morality, based on Ubuntu, promotes social cohesion and nation building by transcending our cultural, religious, racial, gender and class differences. It requires us to understand and embrace one another and to value our cultural differences rather than be afraid of them.

Our morality teaches us that everyone deserves to be treated with respect, from the poorest of the poor to the powerful people in our society. This is because the right to be treated with dignity is not something that you earn, but is basic to all human beings. Our morality says we cannot rest while some of our people live in abject poverty.

Our morality is not defined by monitoring and evaluating people's private lives, and by putting forward subjective moral standards against which they must be judged. ANC members and leaders are just ordinary living beings who are trying to do the best they can to improve the quality of life of all. None amongst us claims any moral rectitude. We just strive to be the best people we can be each day, and to serve the people of our land to the best of our ability.

Our moral vision requires of us as the ruling party to continue focusing on promoting positive values that will bring about a tangible difference in the lives of our people. This morality finds expression in the work of our government.

Government has implemented programmes that provide support to orphans, vulnerable children and the elderly, which fight drug and substance abuse, provide support to those affected and infected by HIV and AIDS and which seek to restore human dignity. Our education syllabus promotes positive values for our children through the life orientation programme.

We are also planning to be more focused in the fight against corruption, to the extent of reviewing procurement policies in government to close loopholes. Our morality also finds expression in the promotion of human dignity through the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity to our people.

On Sunday, 8 March the world marks International Women's Day. We will celebrate this day with the women of Kwaggafontein in Mpumalanga. We wish all our people a happy International Women's Day, and may the struggle for equality and human dignity be taken to greater heights each year.

Working together let us do more to promote positive values that make our country a better place, and to achieve an improved quality of life for all.

South Africans respond together to economic challenges

In December 2008 the social partners that comprise the Presidential Economic Joint Working Group - organised labour, business and government - met to consider how South Africans should respond to the effects of the international economic crisis.

All countries across the world are affected by the deepest and most serious economic crisis in at least the last 80 years. The crisis has resulted in significant asset depreciation, closures of companies, rising unemployment and a sharp slowing down of economic growth, with most highly industrialised countries entering a recession.

Like other developing countries, South Africa is affected by the sharp fall in demand for export products and fall in prices of key export commodities. In addition, the international credit crisis means that funds have become scarce and expensive and that portfolio investors are wary of emerging markets, including our country.

South Africa's economy has had a remarkable and sustained growth path. Now our growth expectation has had to be revised downwards as we are likely to see a slower rate of growth and a possible recession.

Central to the achievements of the last 15 years has been the fact that we have worked together as a nation to bring about change. It is through partnership that we have managed to achieve sustained economic growth since 1994. Our partnership has to continue, and to be deepened.

In these difficult circumstances we can utilise our strength in fiscal space, the financial regulatory framework, and the resourcefulness of our people and institutions, to develop a response to the crises and to commit to work together to address its impact in our country.

We are working against a good policy background. Our financial systems are sound. Public finances are in a healthy state because of the policies we have pursued. If we continue working together we can weather this particular storm. It is through partnership that we will enable our people to survive the current economic crisis.

The ANC is committed to social solidarity between all South Africans to ensure that the crisis does not damage the fabric of our society. It is our collective responsibility to work together to withstand the crisis and ensure that the poor and the most vulnerable are protected as far as possible from the impact of the economic crisis.

We are further committed to ensuring that the economy is ready to take advantage of the next upturn and that all people share the benefits of such growth. The Presidential Economic Joint Working Group subsequently met in a forum convened by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC).

The agreement reached between business, labour and government identifies five priorities:
-protecting the poor
-accelerating investment spending,
minimising job losses,
-taking steps to improve long-term competitiveness,
ensuring that the debt burden does not rise too much.

They agreed to use every possible innovative method to prevent job losses. In the framework document adopted, the parties said they were particularly concerned about the impact of the slowdown on the poor and the most vulnerable.

It is for this reason that they agreed to the measures, which embrace elements that seek to promote economic growth and sustainable businesses, assist and protect workers and the vulnerable and help our country to meet its developmental objectives.

Protecting and expanding decent work is at the core of our programmes. For this reason we are committed to various measures to reduce the possibility of retrenchments. Nevertheless, with existing high levels of unemployment and poverty, though they have reduced in recent years, the condition of the poor and the vulnerable have to be addressed directly and in the shorter run, through employment creation programmes, promoting sustainable livelihoods, public investment, and effective social relief and support.

The measures that have been developed are intended to be an immediate and urgent intervention to ensure that South Africa responds before the local economic and social situation deteriorates. The implementation of the commitments will be monitored in follow up engagements of NEDLAC and with The Presidency.

The parties agreed to develop action plans to ensure timely implementation and evaluation. Task teams have been established on investment and financing, social interventions, employment and distressed sectors.

The social partners said: "We are all committed to the programmes contained in the document, and we will articulate this commitment and ensure that our constituencies understand and implement the actions in the plans that are relevant to them."

No comments: