Tuesday, March 11, 2008

South Africa: ANC President on Recent Media Reports; NWC Statement


10 March 2008

There have been a lot of reports in the media in the past two weeks on remarks made by the ANC President at public engagements which are claimed by various journalists and commentators to be inconsistent with ANC policy.

I would like to clarify some of the points made, as they have been grossly misrepresented by some sections of the media.


There is no ambiguity in the ANC's position on the death penalty, as I have consistently stated. The ANC is opposed to capital punishment, for cogent reasons.

I have also made it clear that we are a democratic country and that it would be difficult for us as the ANC to tell people they cannot debate whether or not there should be a referendum on the matter.

It would be a contradiction if we say we believe in democracy, but refuse to allow people space to tell us what they think. In the course of such a debate, some people may be persuaded to change their views.

A debate would not change the fact that the ANC's policy and the country's Constitution remain very clear on the right to life of every South African citizen. We who believe in this view should be ready to defend it through engagement and persuasion, not through denying others a platform to state their views.


During an interaction with the union Solidarity, a white parent asked on behalf of his young son whether he would battle to find a job when he finished school due to our affirmative action policies.

I indicated that I welcomed Solidarity's view on affirmative action, in which they stated clearly that they were not opposed to the policy, but wanted to engage us on how we can find a way to accommodate white South Africans especially with regard to scarce skills where no suitable black candidates were available.

I said there should be dialogue on the matter. As the ANC, we welcome interaction between the different formations of organised labour in the country. We believe the sharing of views would enable us to deal with any perceptions that may exist within the white community on affirmative action.


On the issue of labour market flexibility, the Polokwane conference resolved that the creation of decent work opportunities is the primary focus of ANC economic policy. At the same time, given the existence of two economies in the country, we need to continuously seek ways of improving the lot of people in the second economy. That is a reinforcement of our policy. Not a deviation.

As the ANC, we will continue to guard and work to deepen the hard-won rights of workers.

I chose to brief a meeting of the COSATU Central Executive Committee on this matter, as I felt I needed to explain to them what was fast being distorted by the media.

I was not "summoned" by COSATU as some sections of the media reported.

We should not be afraid to listen to other views and to persuade each other of the correctness of our positions.


The media hype around an interview I had with the Financial Times, which reports that I said the President of the Republic no longer has any powers, is mischievous. It is a misrepresentation of what I said in the interview.

We have stated repeatedly that the ANC government implements ANC policy. Therefore all ANC members in government, from a national to a local level, are accountable to the movement. This is nothing new. Nor should it change simply because different people occupy the positions of ANC President and President of the country.

The powers, duties and responsibilities of the President of the Republic, which are prescribed by the South African Constitution, have not been changed or diminished.


The ANC is a dynamic movement that has policies that are tried and tested and well-known. We continuously monitor and evaluate the implementation of our policies, in annual Makgotla, in National General Council (NGCs), in Policy Conferences and the five-yearly National Conferences.

The ANC has a responsibility to engage in these processes to ensure that its policies are indeed advancing the objective of a better life for all South Africans.

That is why I said that policies should not be seen as equivalent to the "Ten Commandments". Instead, they should be open to review and ongoing interrogation.


Our democracy enshrines the principle of freedom of expression. It is therefore, in my view, correct to allow South Africans the space to make their views on our policies known. This enables us to explain our positions, and to benefit from the views expressed.

The ANC is clear on its policies. But we are not afraid of debate.

Jacob Zuma
African National Congress
10 March 2008


10 March 2008

The ANC National Working Committee, which held its regular fortnightly meeting in Johannesburg today (10 March 2008), has initiated a major review of the country's education system as a central pillar of economic growth and the fight against poverty.

This follows the decision of the Polokwane Conference that education must be at the centre of the ANC's social transformation agenda over the next five years. This will be one of the issues discussed at the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting being held this coming weekend.

The NEC will also receive an extensive organisational report covering the state of the movement in all provinces, and will reflect on progress made in the implementation of the programme adopted by the NEC lekgotla in January.

Other issues on the NEC meeting agenda include plans for the celebration of the 90th birthday of former ANC President Nelson Mandela, proposals on the conferment of ANC awards, plans to establish new ANC media platforms, and preparations for the Alliance Summit scheduled to take place in April.

The ANC will shortly be embarking on a mass campaign to strengthen local government councils and improve their capacity to respond to the needs of the communities they serve. To this end, the ANC will be mobilising all its ministers, MPs, MPLs, councillors and leadership at all levels to do a door-to-door audit of issues of concern in each community, and to work with local councils to address these issues.

The NWC welcomed the outreach programme being undertaken by the ANC's Officials in various sectors and the intensive programme of report-back meetings they have been conducting with ANC structures around the country. The feedback from these meetings has been overwhelmingly positive, and reflect a willingness across society to engage and debate the issues that affect and concern all South Africans.

The ANC welcomes the order by the Cape Judge President John Hlope that the remaining residents of Joe Slovo informal settlement to relocate to temporary houses in Delft, where they will stay until permanent homes are ready for occupation.

The decision underlines the progressive housing policy being pursued by government to house the many South Africans who do not have decent shelter. It recognises that the building of new housing developments will, in some instances, require the temporary relocation of residents.

The ANC concurs with Judge Hlope's statement that government's housing policy was "in no way attempting to re-enact the apartheid ghost of forced removals".

The ANC is concerned with what appears to be a concerted effort to misrepresent statements made by its President, Jacob Zuma, over the last two weeks. Among these was a report that appeared in the UK-based Financial Times (FT) last week, and which was picked up by local weekend media.

In addition to a statement released today by the ANC President, the ANC will also circulate a response sent by the ANC to the newspaper. The full transcript of the interview is available on the FT website.

The ANC calls on all journalists and analysts to try by all means possible to directly access the statements and pronouncements of ANC leaders rather than relying on second- or third-hand media reports. For its part, the ANC will make a greater effort to ensure that these are readily available.

Issue by:
National Working Committee
African National Congress
54 Sauer Street

More information: Jessie Duarte 079 506 6756

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