We will con­tinue with the coun­try’s magic

The ANC meet­ing on Sunday is in many ways a gath­er­ing to af­firm SA’s great­ness

The Star Early Edition - - INSIDE -

THE PO­SI­TION South Africa finds it­self in 22 years into the birth of a new na­tion is truly re­mark­able if not un­likely, es­pe­cially given 400 years of dom­i­na­tion and op­pres­sion of one group by an­other.

Through hard work and per­se­ver­ance, we have all made South Africa a mag­i­cal place.

Our coun­try has be­come a bea­con of hope and op­por­tu­nity to so many who had been locked out­side look­ing in and we have be­come that bea­con of hope for con­ti­nen­tal Africa.

A day after April 27, 1994, South Africa went straight to work, buoyed by an ANC gov­ern­ment that had not rested a day in pur­suit of free­dom.

The ANC’s ded­i­ca­tion dou­bled once free­dom was at­tained. For ev­ery­where we looked, there was a lot of work to be done.

What bound the ANC and the na­tion to­gether was the abid­ing faith in the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a na­tion with a vi­sion and a sense of shared des­tiny.

The ANC, formed of the peo­ple, be­lieved that in a tol­er­ant na­tion, your race, your gen­der, your eth­nic­ity should never be a bar­rier to your suc­cess, or a rea­son for it. The ANC be­lieved that in a gen­er­ous na­tion, you did not have to be rich to go to the best schools.

The ANC knew that we owe a debt to all the African he­roes who laid down their lives in or­der to punch a hole in a bru­tal sys­tem and to all those who have con­trib­uted to build­ing a new na­tion.

This com­ing Sunday we will be cel­e­brat­ing this re­mark­able her­itage.

The ANC meet­ing on that day is in many ways a gath­er­ing to af­firm the great­ness of our na­tion. Not be­cause 40 per­cent of our youth who re­main un­em­ployed will sud­denly find work the fol­low­ing day. Not be­cause the mil­lions of fam­i­lies trapped in poverty will sud­denly be out of that poverty the fol­low­ing day, not be­cause we will house and clothe and heal and feed all South Africans in need, but our great­ness is en­shrined in our Bill of Rights, that not only are we aware of our prob­lems, but we have in­scribed them in our Con­sti­tu­tion so that we can re­lent­lessly pur­sue them and give our peo­ple a life of dig­nity.

In the past 20 years, we have put close to 8 mil­lion South Africans to work, we can put 8 mil­lion more to work in half the time in the next phase. We say that boldly and con­fi­dently, if we stick to our com­mit­ments.

Af­firm­ing our great­ness also means be­ing grate­ful for small mir­a­cles. The mil­lions of our chil­dren that are well fed, able to go to school; the free­dom of speech; the free­dom to start our own busi­nesses; the abil­ity to par­tic­i­pate in the po­lit­i­cal process, choose which ever po­lit­i­cal party we so wish with­out fears of ret­ri­bu­tion; all these are small mir­a­cles we do not take for granted. Our coun­try is there­fore in a split-screen.

On one side of the screen it is the coun­try as we wish it to be, and on the other it is our coun­try as it is. The gap has been clos­ing with each small act to­wards a more united and more pros­per­ous South Africa – this is the progress we are proud of.

In 2017 how­ever, at the 105th an­niver­sary of the ANC, we are called to re-eval­u­ate our jour­ney. To mea­sure our­selves against the stan­dards we have set our­selves and see how we mea­sure up. How do we mea­sure up to the legacy of OR? How do we mea­sure up to Madiba’s legacy? There is a pal­pa­ble re­al­ity that we have slipped from these lofty lega­cies. As a re­sult we have more work to do – to cre­ate jobs for our peo­ple, lift the stan­dard of our hos­pi­tals and our schools, to en­sure a child achieves good grades who has the drive and the ded­i­ca­tion and is able to go to any univer­sity with­out wor­ry­ing about money.

Our peo­ple know that the gov­ern­ment will not solve all their prob­lems. Par­ents have to teach their chil­dren how to learn; teach­ers must do their part with ded­i­ca­tion; but the gov­ern­ment must en­able peo­ple and give them the needed as­sis­tance to suc­ceed. Our gov­ern­ment has done this, but much more work needs to be done.

We started this glo­ri­ous bur­den of build­ing a new na­tion by earn­ing the re­spect of our peo­ple and the re­spect of the world. We dare never lose it.

It is not enough for just some of us to pros­per. The strug­gle of oth­ers, un­em­ploy­ment, poverty, home­less­ness, ill­ness, must mat­ter to us, even if it is not our re­al­i­ties. These are all our peo­ple and we are their lead­ers. South Africa is a na­tion at work and we must never grow weary in pur­su­ing the great­ness of our coun­try. There are of course those whose sole duty is to di­vide us. Those who abuse their in­flu­ence, the spin masters, the an­a­lysts, the bi­ased jour­nal­ists, the ed­i­tors seek­ing vain glory from cham­bers of ca­reer ap­plause, our mes­sage is clear to them.

They will not suc­ceed. We have al­ready been through worse. There will be one coun­try, liv­ing to­gether in har­mony, if it is the last thing we ac­com­plish.

In the end, that is what the cur­rent ANC chal­lenges are about. Do we par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics of cyn­i­cism or do we par­tic­i­pate in the pol­i­tics of a bet­ter ANC and a bet­ter coun­try? Let us meet at Or­lando Sta­dium on Sunday, January 8, to af­firm the great­ness of our na­tion.

It is not enough for just some of us to pros­per.

Yonela Diko is the spokesper­son of the ANC in the West­ern Cape.

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