Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letter From President Jacob Zuma on the 98th Anniversary of the African National Congress

Letter from the President

Let's work together to speed up effective service to the people

By Jacob Zuma, African National Congress

It is now 98 years since the founding of our movement - he African National Congress. It has been 98 years of principled struggle for a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

Under the banner of "WORKING TOGETHER WE CAN DO MORE", we have particularly emphasised in our 2009 Election Campaign that faster change and faster improvement in the conditions of all our people, will be a defining feature of the new ANC administration.

We re-committed ourselves to make the ANC government more caring, responsive and interactive. Informed by the decisions of the Polokwane National Conference, we set ourselves the task of further strengthening the ANC, deepening organisational democracy and ensuring that it discharges its responsibility as the leader of the process of social change and consolidating national unity.

We committed ourselves to strengthening the Tripartite Alliance and our relations with SANCO, and at the same time building a broad front of forces of change. We are called upon to assess our progress with regards to these tasks, and very clearly to outline the major tasks facing our movement within and outside of government.

The year 2010 is a seminal year for the country, and we will be celebrating several key milestones and anniversaries. Our country will be hosting the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Let us unite the country and ensure that this opportunity leaves a lasting legacy that will endure for generations to come, both for our country and our continent.

This year we will also start preparations for the local government elections, which are due in 2011. 2010 also brings us closer to the ANC centenary celebrations in 2012. We must work hard towards 100 years by showcasing the proud traditions of this, the oldest national liberation movement in Africa.

As we prepare to mark this monumental milestone, we should mobilise the whole of our society to celebrate their struggles, their heroes and heroines, their resilience and their victories. The National Executive Committee has established a Centenary Task Team to prepare for the celebrations.

Provinces, working together with this Team, must establish provincial teams to coordinate this work and ensure broader participation by all ANC structures, the Alliance, mass democratic organisations and local communities. This year, we are also holding our National General Council, which will act as the platform for a mid-term review of the work done since the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane.

We shall also be commemorating the 55th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, while the year also marks the 50th Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre. We shall also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the founding of COSATU, and the 25th Anniversary of the ANC Second Consultative Conference, held in Kabwe, Zambia.

Among others, Kabwe reasserted the democratic nature of the ANC despite the difficult conditions in which it was operating. It entrenched the theory and practice of non-racialism in the organisational culture of the movement. It set out clear tasks on the intensification of all forms of struggle to speed up the demise of the apartheid crime against humanity.

2010 also marks the 20th Anniversary of the re-launch of the ANC Women's League, which continues to be the platform to ensure that the objectives of gender equality remain at the centre of our struggle for democracy, equality and prosperity for all.

We are also celebrating 20 years since President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was released from prison, and the ANC, SACP, PAC and other liberation movements unbanned. These were momentous developments, which were, above everything else, a consequence of the people's struggle.

Since 1912, the ANC has dedicated itself to the historic mission of uniting our people in the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed black majority in general, and Africans in particular. South African revolutionaries have been fighting, one generation after another, to fulfil this mission.

We draw great inspiration from these decades of unbroken struggle, and re-dedicate ourselves to the cause of the National Democratic Revolution. We are today proudly a fast growing mass political movement, with more than 600,000 members. We are confident that we will achieve the goal of one million members before our centenary in 2012.

The ANC is found in each township and village, rooted amongst the masses of our people: the rural poor, the workers, professionals and business-people - young and old, male and female, black and white.

We have consolidated our rich traditions of internal democracy. The ANC belongs to its membership; and throughout its history it has sought to uphold the practice of democratic participation by the members. We have once more put the task of political education at the top of our agenda. Out of hundreds of thousands of our members, we seek constantly to develop cadres of a high quality with a high level of revolutionary consciousness, organisational discipline, and moral and political integrity.

In the last 16 years we have accumulated much experience in governing. Our electoral mandate has now been popularly and democratically renewed for the fourth term. We are deeply humbled by the people's ongoing confidence in our movement. We are a movement that constantly seeks to connect with the people. We have improved the practice of listening to the people, understanding their concerns, and practically taking up the issues they have raised.

You will recall that we decided in 2009 to focus on five strategic developmental priorities, namely: the creation of decent jobs, ensuring quality education and health care for all, promoting rural development, and combating crime and corruption. To achieve this, we must build a developmental state.

We have to build a strategic planning capacity, through the creation of a National Planning Commission and the performance monitoring and evaluation capacity within the Presidency in government. We must strengthen government structures to provide effective and efficient services to the people.

In addition to the reconfiguration of government structures to ensure the effective provision of services to the people, much more needs to be done to align the mandate of the state-owned enterprises, development finance institutions and other state agencies with the priorities of government.

We must combat corruption in the public and private sectors. Corruption undermines our struggle to build a caring society. It erodes the moral fabric our society. We will also see to it that all cases involving the violation of discipline are thoroughly investigated and dealt with. We will ensure that all involved in corruption, regardless of their position or status in the organisation and society, are severely dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land.

We need to develop a new public sector cadre. There are those placed in positions of responsibility that do nothing to address the concerns of the people they are meant to serve, either through incapacity or unwillingness. Where people are found to be incapable of performing the tasks assigned to them, we must work with speed to either capacitate such people or replace them with more capable people.

The ANC, working together with our allies, will engage public sector trade unions and clarify our respective roles in building a new public sector cadre for a democratic developmental state. In 2010 we intend to make local government the key focus for service provision. A strong and disciplined ANC with capacity on the ground is a necessary condition to make local government more effective and efficient.

This includes the implementation of the ANC Councillors' Code of Conduct, and the creation of standards and requirements for councillors in preparation for the 2011 local government elections. The ANC commends the majority of councillors, who continue to serve our people with integrity and dedication.

We urge our councillors to form strong links with the communities they serve. One of the challenges in local government is the confusion between political and administrative roles. We are of the firm view that senior municipal officials should not hold leadership positions in political parties to avoid conflict.

We will work even harder this year in enhancing work in our five strategic development priorities. To create more jobs, decent work opportunities and sustainable livelihoods, we must pursue an inclusive economic growth path based on a comprehensive industrial strategy. We are committed to the implementation of the Framework for South Africa's Response to the International Economic Crisis, which was developed and agreed to, at NEDLAC in February 2009.

It sets out principles and programmes to tackle the effects on South Africa of the global economic crisis. Within scarce resources, heavily affected by the world crisis, we have put in place programmes to absorb the unemployed through the use of labour intensive programmes linked to infrastructure expansion and meeting social needs.

We are confident that the progress made in the past nine months in implementing the expanded public works programme, will lay the foundation for the attainment of our target to create 4-million work opportunities by 2014.

There are some early indications that we may be recovering from the worst of the crisis. But this recovery may be slow and perhaps even temporary. It should also be expected that the creation of new jobs on a massive scale will lag behind the economic recovery.

South Africa has challenges in the energy sector that require comprehensive solutions. These are broader than the tariff increases. There are issues of our energy mix, environmental sustainability, distribution mechanisms, surcharges by local municipalities and the role of the private sector. We will intensify our work in this area this year.

The ANC recognises that poor communities will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. Together with other developing countries we have contributed to the accord adopted at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit. Although it does not go as far as required, it is an important step in the right direction in that it commits all countries to respond to climate change. We will work hard with our international counterparts this year to achieve a legally binding treaty.

To take forward rural development and land reform during 2010, ANC cadres must work with comrades in organised labour to ensure that we improve the living conditions of farm workers and farm-dwellers. They continue to be among the most exploited citizens of our country.

Regarding education, we can pride ourselves that we have achieved almost universal access. We must applaud ourselves for the fact that South Africa has surpassed the millennium development goal targets for the girl child. However, we are concerned about the academic achievements of our children. Both national and international assessments continue to reveal that both the numeracy and literacy levels of our learners remain unacceptably low.

The two percent drop in matric results also indicates that we must work even harder to turn the corner. Let us ensure that ANC structures mobilise all adults who cannot read or write to join the Kha Ri Gude Adult Mass Literacy Campaign. This is one of the country's most successful mass campaigns. -

We reiterate the non-negotiables in education. Teachers must be on time, in class and teaching for seven hours every day. We will intensify efforts to build a movement for quality education involving learners, teachers and parents alike. We must strengthen public school management. Last year we met with school principals to discuss ways of improving the performance of our schools.

We aim to pursue further interactions in the period ahead, to assess progress made in implementing the recommendations from our first meeting. The process of creating a single post-school higher education and training system for youth and adults is also now underway.

The ANC government has put in place a ten-point plan to improve access to health care and to reduce inequality in the health system. We are determined to press ahead this year with the establishment of the National Health Insurance system. We will ensure that all stakeholders are consulted before the passing of NHI legislation.

On HIV and AIDS, part of our response, as announced recently, encompasses a massive campaign which includes a voluntary National Testing and Counselling Week to encourage our people to know their HIV status, as well as the integration of TB and HIV and AIDS treatment sites.

The ANC government will also provide anti-retroviral treatment to all people co-infected with TB and HIV, to HIV positive infants under 12 months of age and pregnant HIV positive women. However we must emphasise that taking personal responsibility is key in both the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS.

With regards to crime and corruption, we spoke in our Manifesto of establishing a new modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system to develop the capacity for fighting and drastically reducing crime levels in real terms. There are several concrete measures being undertaken. These include improving the performance of our courts with regards to trials and proceedings.

The South African Police Service is currently embarking on a programme to increase its personnel over the next three years, and put special emphasis on visible policing, detective and crime intelligence personnel. The number of detectives had increased by 19% by the end of 2009. The government will not, by itself, address the crime problem. All South Africans are expected to form part of the efforts to address crime and corruption.

In our quest to build a caring society, the ANC is determined to create a comprehensive social security system. From April 2010, the equalisation of access to the state old pensions will commence, providing for eligible men of 60 years to qualify, subject to the means test. In the next three years, an additional two million children from poor households, aged 15 to 18 years will benefit from the child support grant.

The ANC is the strategic political centre. Therefore, we have to address the political and organisational capacity of the ANC, if we are to succeed in building a developmental state and successfully implement our priorities. Since the 52nd National Conference we embarked on an organisational renewal process. This seeks to ensure that the ANC remains a mass-based, multi-class and disciplined force of the left, which is unashamedly biased towards the working class and the poor.

The unity of the ANC is paramount. All our members must be united behind a programme of action developed by the ANC and its Allies. Everything we do must be aimed at improving the living conditions of all South Africans, especially the poor and the working class.

In doing so, all structures and members of the ANC must vigorously adhere to our principles of unity, selfless service, collective leadership, democratic centralism, internal debate, humility, honesty, hard work, constructive criticism and self-criticism, discipline and mutual respect.

The ANC will continue to take firm action against ill-discipline, corruption, incompetence and abuse of power in its ranks. In particular, we will be consistent and firm in acting against abuse of leadership positions for personal gain or factionalism.

We will also manage the deployment and redeployment of cadres in a more objective and transparent fashion through our internal monitoring and evaluation processes.

We will promote moral regeneration. The ANC has recognised that human development has both spiritual and material aspects. It will therefore continue to mobilise interfaith, cultural and traditional organisations, for the creation of cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.

We will step up the political education within our movement. We will focus on building the culture of umrabulo, particularly in preparation for the National General Council. We must build capacity for ANC-led campaigns. This year we will embark on a mass campaign programme to complement government's implementation of our Election Manifesto.

This will focus in particular on education, health, combating crime and corruption, and vukuzenzele activities. As resolved at the 52nd National Conference, the Veterans' League was launched in December last year. We salute all our veterans and pledge to give them organisational support to expand their membership.

Building and defending the revolutionary Alliance is one of our major organisational tasks for 2010. Working relations amongst Alliance partners have greatly improved. We consult each other and work together on key issues and programmes that affect our people.

However, much more needs to be done to improve the alliance relations at national and sub-national levels. The ANC has a historic responsibility to lead the revolutionary Alliance. The Alliance partners have a responsibility to ensure that the ANC remains strong and united. The most effective and concrete way of building the ANC-led Alliance is through a common programme of action based on our shared strategic objectives. The Alliance is expected to produce such a programme this year. This will provide the line of march for every cadre of the Alliance.

The ANC remains part of the progressive forces for change internationally, working to achieve a more humane and equitable world order. Our movement remains committed to the pragmatic realisation of an African union government through ensuring the spread of democracy in our continent, and the strengthening of AU organs.

We will further continue to support the NEPAD in eradicating poverty and ensure economic recovery throughout Africa. We will continue to support and participate in conflict resolution.

The ANC will work to strengthen our relations India, Brazil and China, politically, socially and economically. This is in line with our objective of strengthening south-south cooperation. We reaffirm our solidarity with those that are still struggling for the attainment of national self-determination.

In particular we will continue to support the campaign for the self-determination of the Western Sahara under the progressive leadership of Polisario. We continue to pledge our support to the Cubans in their campaign to end the economic blockade against their country.

We will continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Cuban Five. It is our belief that each country has a right to pursue its own path of economic development. Our organisation continues to support the calls for finding lasting, just and humane solutions to the Israeli-Palestine question. We firmly support the two-state solution that recognises the principle of Palestinian and Israeli self-determination in accordance with the relevant United Nations resolutions.

The ANC will also continue to push for the reform of multi-lateral institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and United Nations along more democratic and developmental lines.

In six months time, starting on June 11th, the world's most popular sport will be played on our soil. We have built new stadiums and revitalised existing ones, and we have upgraded our transport and accommodation facilities. We have demonstrated our pedigree by successfully hosting the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and the Final Draw for 2010. These have inspired us to make this tournament a truly African World Cup. We urge all South Africans to support our national team, Bafana Bafana.

We must also take the time to salute all our comrades who have passed on during the past year. These comrades have made a lasting contribution to the struggle for freedom in South Africa and reconstruction and development.

On behalf of the National Executive Committee, it is my privilege to declare 2010: "The Year of Working Together to Speed Up Effective Service to the People".

Jacob G. Zuma

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