Thursday, April 30, 2009

ANC Today: Letter From The President

Letter from the president

Siyabonga, thank you Mzansi

We have come to the end of a vibrant election campaign. The huge voter turnout has indicated the value attached by our people to the right to vote and to the constitutional and democratic way to change or renew a government's mandate.

We are very grateful and humbled by the decisive mandate we have received from millions of South Africans. They were attracted by our policies and the delivery of services in the past 15 years, as well as the track record of this movement in working to build a better South Africa since 1912. We do not take the mandate lightly. We know the responsibility that comes with it.

We also thank our people who voted for the ANC for the first time in this election. We assure you that your vote was not misplaced. We thank ANC cadres, supporters and volunteers for their excellent work across the length and breadth of our country. This is your victory.

To those South Africans who did not vote for the ANC, we will form a government that takes care of your needs to the best of our ability. Working together we will make it a government for all South Africans.

The new President of the Republic will be a President for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement in the delivery of services. He will strive to turn the climate in the country into a positive and relaxed one, that makes people free to be creative and work hard to improve their lives and the economy of the country.

Now that the election is over, we must enter a new era of hope and progress. We must enter a period where we bury mistrust, uncertainty, pain and tension, and begin a new chapter of harmony and collaboration. We cannot afford to dwell on the negatives.

We must enter a period in which South Africa reclaims its position and image as a thriving nation, which can overcome all its difficulties, and which is able to put the country first above sectional and party political interests.

Our resounding victory is a celebration for people from all walks of life who helped to shape our Manifesto which will now become government's programme of action for the next five years.

We thank women, youth, black professionals, minority groups, workers, artists and entertainers, traditional leaders, religious leaders and many sectors and individuals who made inputs into this Manifesto.

There will be no surprises in the next administration's programme of action. The electorate has endorsed our call for an equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth path that will bring decent work and sustainable livelihoods.

We have scored a victory for a better education system, better health care, safer and secure communities, and rural development. We will make our country one that creates an enabling environment for women to develop, thrive and be successful.

We remain committed to every word we uttered during the election campaign. We were serious when we said we would improve the pace and quality of service delivery, that we will appoint competent people to government, and that we will be tough on non-performance.

We were serious when we said we want to maintain direct contact with the citizens. We will not be a government that is out of touch with its people. We will work with all parties in Parliament to deepen the oversight role of Parliament.

We will work with all parties. We will need to do more to elevate our national days, such as the forthcoming Freedom Day, into inclusive, serious and meaningful occasions, which are instruments of nation building.

We intend to work with all parties and sectors to promote our sports development, starting with the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. We must work tirelessly together to make the Confederations Cup in June and the World Cup next year phenomenal successes.

We will work with the African Union and SADC, as well as with other regional blocs, to promote sustainable development, peace and security. We will continue with efforts to find lasting solutions in Zimbabwe, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Western Sahara, Somalia and other flashpoints.

We will strengthen our participation in multilateral institutions, including the United Nations. We will further deepen our relationship with the developed North as well as our role in the South-South dialogue programmes.

As we prepare for the transition into a new administration, our message to South Africans is that we will remain true to our undertaking to build a caring, inclusive, listening and responsive government. South Africa needs a government that fully understands what else needs to be done to reverse our apartheid past, building on the successes of the past 15 years.

The ANC, working together with all our people, will form such a government. Working together, we will do much more to build a better life for all our people.

Jacob G. Zuma, President

Freedom Day 2009 by Kgalema Motlanthe

The triumph of freedom over oppression

The twenty-seventh of April is the day on which for the first time all South Africans exercised their democratic right to cast their votes for the party of their choice. On this special day we celebrate the continuing hope and resilience of our people, working together to achieve the vision in our Constitution.

Fifteen years ago, South Africans queued in every part of our villages, townships and cities - proud to make history through putting their mark on a ballot paper, an act that would bring us freedom from more than 300 years of colonialism and segregation and more than 40 years of apartheid.

This nation has indeed trudged a very long way from an embittered and divided past to a society based on equality, dignity and respect for human rights. Our Constitutional order has proved itself to be not only rugged and enduring but impregnable too.

April 27 1994, marked the unity of our people and a beginning of a long journey from our divided past. Much has been achieved since that epoch-marking day in the evolution of our nation's history. The democratic government is also amply aware that despite all the gains made during the 15 years of democracy, much more still needs to be done to roll back the apartheid legacy, and especially, push back the frontiers of poverty.

In much the same way our nation has to work harder to consolidate participatory democracy in our country in ways that requires much more than just trooping to the polling stations to cast votes at the end of every five years. As South Africans we need to embrace the reality that only collective efforts from all sections of society can enable us to deal with our unique challenges in a way that yields positive results.

Our history is etched with the footprints of those who planted the seeds of freedom, of those who laid the foundations for equality. It is our generation that has succeeded in giving the dream of freedom a concrete reality. Apartheid sought to and succeeded in depriving the majority of a decent living.

This historical reality has been the driver behind government's efforts at reversing the legacy of apartheid and creating a better society. Today the battle takes place in the realm of ideas - as we proceed to improve the conditions of life for all citizens of our country.

Today we exercise the right to freedom of speech and movement. We are also free to congregate and to gather together and to dance in celebration of our diversity and of our unity. Today the battle is the fight to end poverty and to work towards sustainable development.

Today our struggle is and must be a social contract between the government and the people to improve health care, to achieve universal access to education, to expedite the delivery of housing, to strengthen the provision of free basic sanitation, electricity and clean water and to create decent work.

Today we need to unite in a common cause of fighting vestiges of racism and inequality. South Africa will continue to take the lead to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that we can build a society which is truly non-racial, non-sexist and democratic.

Perhaps beyond the symbolic force of April 27 is the underlying imperative of reanimating the dream of building a thriving society free from all forms of oppression. Central to this vision has been and remains the building of a free and prosperous society driven by the impulse to harness our differences into a formidable force for development and growth.

This vision, holds out the prospects of a prosperous South Africa defined by the bonds of a common destiny as we work together to do more to reach our goals. Today the battle is about striving to close the gap between rich and poor, to provide the necessary skills to all our youth, to provide all our people with productive lives in service of national and continental economic development and in pursuit of a golden Age for Africa and the developing world.

The attainment of prosperity in South Africa depends on our continuing to act in ways that are true to our people and that together we safeguard each other's future by fighting crime and protecting the foundations of a secure life.

It is the selfless actions of men and women that will continue to give this nation its lifeblood. A generation of youth sacrificed their lives knowing that they did not have the right to grow up and grow old and to live long and productive lives.

Let us remember them and be thankful for their sacrifices, heroism and selflessness, which often included loss of life and limb, and invariably, loss of youth, all for the noble cause of freedom. In celebrating April 27 we fully honour the commendable heroism and sacrifice over years of the struggle to win our freedom, with the solidarity of people from across the globe.

In honouring the memory of these great South Africans let us recommit ourselves to continue with the struggle for the improvement of the lives of all our people, irrespective of race, gender or station in life.

These individual and collective acts, by each and every adult South African who supported non-racialism and full equality, ushered in a new era of peace and democracy, and brought dignity and equal rights to every household in this land.

On Freedom Day government reaffirms its commitment to consolidate democracy and create a South Africa united in diversity. Warriors have died for us. Youth have given their lives for us. Generations have fought for this precious and treasured fifteen years of freedom.

Let us pledge to past generations that we shall build a better world for South Africans.

Freedom is a lived reality. Let us all work together to improve the quality of life for all so that the fullness of freedom becomes our lived reality as a united and prosperous people.

Kgalema Motlanthe is ANC Deputy President. This is an edited extract of an address at the Freedom Day celebrations in Durban on 27 April 2009.

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