Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Addressing the ANC cadres forum in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, reflects on ANC progress
IT HAS been 24 years since the death of Oliver Tambo and 30 years since the death of Steve Biko. This year also marks 60 years of the Freedom Charter and 23 years of democracy.
As the ANC and the progressive forces in society, we must reflect on how far we have come, our current circumstances and, most importantly, what needs to be done for us to continue the advancement of the National Democratic Revolution to improve the lives of our people.
It is therefore imperative that we remind ourselves of the contribution of the great men and women that came before us and built and shaped this organisation.
Comrade OR (Tambo) stepped down as the president of the ANC when he handed over our movement to begin the process of building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.
In his opening address to the ANC’S 48th national conference, he said: “Before I sit down, I wish to make a few observations: we did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times. We were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them. Above all, we succeeded to foster and defend the unity of the ANC and of our people.
“Even in bleak moments, we were never in doubt regarding the winning of freedom. We have never been in doubt that the people’s cause shall triumph.”
We must never forget the painful history of our country. We need to do everything in our power, both the government – including the law enforcement agencies and the ANC – to end violence and killing within our ranks.
It is also important that all members of the ANC understand that the branches are the centre of power. The branches are the basic unit of the organisation.
The highest decision-making structure of the organisation is the national conference and it is a conference of branches.
This means that when it comes to policy or matters around elective processes, the branches will determine the outcomes.
President Jacob Zuma will not be handing over power to anyone.
Branches elected him in Mangaung and in December the post will become vacant and will be contested by those nominated by structures. The branches and ANC structures, who are also the voting delegates, will then vote for their preferred candidate, guided by the constitution.
Branches need not explain and there is no tradition of which comrade should be elected.
We need to be clear on this, because senior leaders of the organisation cannot impose their presidential preferences on our organisational processes. This is anti-democratic. We must guard against such utterances.
The challenges faced by the alliance deepen the weakness of our structures. This perpetuates disunity in the alliance and in society. We will not have the ability to unite society when we are divided. To unite society, we must be united ourselves. The fractures in our movement create a vacuum which is being filled by opportunistic elements. The ANC, as the leader of the alliance, has the responsibility to ensure the alliance remains intact and we need to ensure constant efforts toward unity in the alliance for our collective programme.
The working class is our motivating force and our alliance partners need to remain a viable home for them. We must focus on restoring the confidence our people show in us through the ballot to improve their lives.
We need to make sure cadres internalise the fact that they have an enormous responsibility to change the lives of our people.
They should not see their deployment as power, but as a responsibility. They are there to implement the decisions of the ANC. If there are impediments to implementation, cadres must bring those challenges to the leadership to resolve them.
We need a transparent government, corruption-free, that is responsive to the needs of our people. This includes civil servants.
We must have caring and compassionate staff who treat our people with respect and dignity. Government offices, particularly the front-line departments, must be known for their efficiency and responsiveness and the mindset of the staff must be sound, with clear political leadership at the head.
This is important as we move toward the implementation of the policies we will adopt in December which will empower cadres deployed to the state to implement radical economic transformation.
We need a fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions, patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favour of the people, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female.
Changing the status quo is going to be difficult as there will be a lot of pressure, intimidation and opposition from those who wish to safeguard their economic interests.
We need to remain determined and not be distracted by those who do not have the interest of the people at heart.
An example of this was when I was in the Musa Dladla region, I spoke about the question of land and the feedback from some sections of society was extremely negative.
Those favoured by the current status quo will resist and challenge you on all fronts, but we must forge ahead as radical economic transformation is no longer a choice, it is an imperative.
Without its implementation, we cannot resolve persistent poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Central to transforming our country and to the development of our people is the redistribution of our land, which was taken from us through the barrel of a gun.
We need to return the land to our people. We need land for residential purposes, to build businesses, schools and universities, recreational purposes and of course agriculture.
Our people are living in overcrowded townships while the rural communities reside on dry, rocky land. Our oppressors took the bulk of the land they wanted and left us with undesirable land with just enough space for us to live and bury each other and service white South Africa. We cannot carry on in this fashion.
Fundamental to colonialism and racial economic domination is the dispossession of the land and the continued occupation of the land by a minority.
We have been in power for 23 years, yet land ownership patterns remain largely unchanged.
This can only mean there is something fundamentally wrong with the mechanisms or legislative framework we have employed to redistribute land over the years.
The NPC has released recommendations about the land question, which includes mechanisms to enable land expropriation without compensation. Let us continue to discuss in our branches how best to fast track the return of the land to the people.
We dare not fail to undo this fundamental injustice of our past.
This has been the agenda of the ANC and something our forebears instructed us to pursue, and in 2012 the ANC resolved to undertake radical socio-economic transformation.
Tambo said: “It is inconceivable for liberation to have meaning without a return of the wealth of the country to the people.
“To allow existing economic forces to retain their interests intact is to feed the roots of racial supremacy and exploitation and does not represent even the shadow of liberation.”
The opposition, sections of the media and some NGOS behave as if they’re tentacles of white monopoly capital (WMC). This is a feature of the South African economy as in each sector a number of companies control the entire sector. They often engage in monopolistic behaviour, making it difficult for new entrants.
These companies, because of our history, tend to be white and male-owned. WMC maintains its stranglehold on the economy and this must come to an end.
In the absence of a vibrant and inclusive financial sector, no economy can grow. It is in this regard that we must fully support the recommendation made by the policy conference to ensure that the anomaly of the mandate and ownership of our SA Reserve
Bank is addressed, in line with international trends.
This will help create an enabling environment for the establishment of state and other banks to counter monopolies in the financial sector.
The financial sector is the commanding heights of our economy and the state must play a leading role in fostering transformation and intervene for the development of the people.
We cannot have a majority of the population unable to access finance and thus be excluded from the productive and job-creating sections of our economy.
Beneficiation is a prerequisite for job creation and the expansion and growth of our economy.
None of this will be possible if we do not have the prerequisite skills. The quality of our education must be of a high calibre and we must educate our children to be patriotic and not only job seekers, but also job creators and innovators.
We need to ensure that we embark on a skills revolution which will see thousands skilled in various fields required for our developmental economy – with specific attention paid to the Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), as well as artisan and vocational training, which are skills needed by our economy.
Our policy conference resolved to recommend the implementation of free higher education for the poor from 2018. Let us make sure that in December we emerge with this as a resolution.
Unity can only be achieved when we have a common purpose. Our programme is radical economic transformation, now or never.
Let us close ranks, foster unity and behave as disciplined cadres at all times. Our revolution is far from over.