The Jan­uary 8 2016 state­ment her­alds a new era of rad­i­cal so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, writes Gwede Man­tashe

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The ANC’s first-ever Jan­uary 8 state­ment in 1972 was de­liv­ered by the now late ANC pres­i­dent Oliver Tambo. Re­flect­ing on the found­ing of Africa’s old­est lib­er­a­tion move­ment, he wrote: “On that day, hav­ing re­viewed the past, the na­tion pro­ceeded to work out the strat­egy of strug­gle of the fu­ture … a new era in the his­tory of our peo­ple had been ush­ered in – the era of po­lit­i­cal strug­gle that was ex­pected to rise through suc­ces­sive lev­els of con­flict till free­dom was won.”

Since 1972, the oc­ca­sion of the de­liv­ery of the Jan­uary 8 state­ment by the ANC has af­forded the or­gan­i­sa­tion an op­por­tu­nity to reaf­firm our com­mit­ment to our his­toric mis­sion: to build a united, non­ra­cial, non­sex­ist, demo­cratic and pros­per­ous South Africa.

The Jan­uary 8 state­ment is an ac­knowl­edg­ment of just how far we have come and marks the strides we have made to­wards the re­al­i­sa­tion of the ideals of the Free­dom Char­ter.

But in build­ing the so­ci­ety to which we all as­pire, we are ever mind­ful that the road is still be­fore us.

The at­tain­ment of our free­dom in 1994 was not a des­ti­na­tion; it was the start of a jour­ney. In re­flect­ing on where we are as a na­tion, we should never lose sight of how we got there.

Jan­uary 8 speaks to the chal­lenges still af­fect­ing South Africa and lays out the road map for deal­ing with them.

We af­firm ev­ery year on Jan­uary 8 that the ANC is the cus­to­dian of the Na­tional Demo­cratic Revo­lu­tion.

As the state­ment notes: “We ac­knowl­edge the weighty re­spon­si­bil­ity we shoul­der, hav­ing been cho­sen since democ­racy to lead our peo­ple. It is a re­spon­si­bil­ity we nei­ther take for granted nor re­gard lightly.”

This year’s state­ment, the year of ad­vanc­ing peo­ple’s power, draws heav­ily on the con­cept of the so­cial com­pact.

In the ex­e­cu­tion of our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as the gov­ern­ing party, we con­tinue to rely on work­ing with all sec­tors of so­ci­ety to at­tain our ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive.

Work­ing to­gether as the state, or­gans of peo­ple power and busi­ness, we can achieve much more than a su­per­fi­cial ap­proach to so­ci­etal trans­for­ma­tion.

It is crit­i­cal that the Jan­uary 8 state­ment is used for what it is: an or­ganic, liv­ing, breath­ing doc­u­ment that should be read, an­a­lysed and ap­plied ac­cord­ingly.

Although the state­ment has been drafted by the ANC, we em­pha­sise that it be­longs to all South Africans. They should take full own­er­ship of it, for it is a means of arm­ing our peo­ple with the nec­es­sary tools to ap­ply them­selves to build­ing a bet­ter South Africa – and, in par­tic­u­lar, paving the way for an era of rad­i­cal so­cioe­co­nomic trans­for­ma­tion.

Although our peo­ple can fully count on our sup­port as the gov­ern­ing party, it is a call to ac­tion for all to play a greater role in build­ing the coun­try they want.

Ex­em­plary lead­er­ship is a hall­mark of the fu­ture we hope to build and re­alise. Hence, the Jan­uary 8 state­ment stresses the im­por­tance of cadres and lead­ers of the or­gan­i­sa­tion con­duct­ing them­selves in ac­cor­dance with the high­est stan­dards of rev­o­lu­tion­ary moral­ity.

We can­not ex­pect of our peo­ple that which we do not ex­pect of our­selves. And in ex­hibit­ing this high stan­dard of lead­er­ship, the poli­cies, tra­di­tions and val­ues es­poused by this ven­er­a­ble or­gan­i­sa­tion have, and will, con­tinue to be our lodestar.

In pro­tect­ing the im­age of our move­ment, we as the ANC af­firm in this year’s state­ment that we will deal harshly with any­one whose con­duct tar­nishes the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s rep­u­ta­tion.

And in reaf­firm­ing our com­mit­ment to these val­ues ev­ery year on Jan­uary 8, the ANC con­tin­ues to ad­here to the no­ble val­ues that un­der­pinned its found­ing in 1912.

We may have adapted our tac­tics, pro­grammes and poli­cies, but the goal of a bet­ter life for all has yet to be achieved.

The ANC has stayed the course and weath­ered many storms that have tested our met­tle and re­solve.

The Jan­uary 8 state­ment af­firms that the ANC be­longs to the peo­ple, and we ex­ist to serve them – for we know that we hold this na­tion in trust for our peo­ple and for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. Ours is a task in which we dare not fail.

The ANC, to­gether with all pro­gres­sive South Africans, is proud of our his­tory.

Equally, we are con­fi­dent of our fu­ture.

Man­tashe is the ANC’s sec­re­tary-gen­eral

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