ANC talks to pri­ori­tise econ­omy

Del­e­gates at the pol­icy con­fer­ence are there to deepen the unity and co­he­sion in the rul­ing party, writes

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

OPEN­ING the pol­icy con­fer­ence, Pres­i­dent Zuma chal­lenged the del­e­gates to en­gage ro­bustly in con­duct­ing a di­ag­nos­tic of the chal­lenges con­fronting the ANC and find so­lu­tions an­chored on the com­mit­ment to the age-old val­ues of the ANC.

Ad­dress­ing the first Tri-con­ti­nen­tal Con­fer­ence of the Peo­ples of Asia, Africa and Latin Amer­ica in Ha­vana in Jan­uary 1966, Amil­car Cabral said: “… our ex­pe­ri­ence has shown us that in the gen­eral frame­work of daily strug­gle, this bat­tle against our­selves, no mat­ter what dif­fi­cul­ties the en­emy may cre­ate, is the most dif­fi­cult of all, whether for the present or the fu­ture of our peo­ples. This bat­tle is the ex­pres­sion of the in­ter­nal con­tra­dic­tions in the eco­nomic, so­cial, cul­tural (and there­fore his­tor­i­cal) re­al­ity…”

His words aptly de­scribe the path the ANC has tra­versed over the last two decades of free­dom, char­ac­terised by in­ter­nal con­tra­dic­tions and fierce con­tes­ta­tions for the soul of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The con­tra­dic­tions, though they may at times ap­pear to be fierce con­tes­ta­tions, are none­the­less a nec­es­sary con­di­tion in the evo­lu­tion of any or­gan­i­sa­tion to pro­pel a for­ward mo­men­tum.

Ours is to draw fun­da­men­tal lessons from th­ese con­tra­dic­tions which at times may be brought about by a healthy in­ter­face of dif­fer­ent view­points but at times by alien con­duct such as factionalism, mem­ber­ship-buy­ing and cor­rup­tion.

Pres­i­dent Zuma re­asserted the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s un­equiv­o­cal com­mit­ment to up­root­ing th­ese evils, which he dubbed a can­cer that is eat­ing away at the moral fi­bre of the ANC. In this way he has set a strong tone for the con­fer­ence to rise to the oc­ca­sion and find ef­fec­tive and last­ing so­lu­tions to th­ese ills.

As we com­mem­o­rate the life and times of the gi­ant of our rev­o­lu­tion, for­mer ANC pres­i­dent OR Tambo, both the na­tional chair­per­son Baleka Mbete and Pres­i­dent Zuma called on the pol­icy con­fer­ence to reaf­firm and ac­knowl­edge that the unity of the move­ment is sacro­sanct and must be up­held above all else.

The fifth pol­icy con­fer­ence of the ANC took place against the back­drop of in­ter­nal con­tra­dic­tions and un­prece­dented chal­lenges not only fac­ing the Congress move­ment, but also the tri­par­tite al­liance.

The com­mit­ment of ev­ery del­e­gate to the pol­icy con­fer­ence had to be noth­ing short of a to­tal com­mit­ment to deep­en­ing the unity and co­he­sion of the ANC.The ANC ac­knowl­edges that the set­backs ex­pe­ri­enced at the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions in 2016 re­sult­ing in the ANC los­ing power in three met­ros re­quire of the or­gan­i­sa­tion to con­duct a deep and hon­est in­tro­spec­tion. The ANC has equally heard the voices of the peo­ple and will re­spond to re­store their trust in the move­ment.

An hon­est in­tro­spec­tion starts with an hon­est ap­praisal of the chal­lenges and the mis­takes com­mit­ted. Hard ques­tions must be asked of the choices that con­front the move­ment to­day. The pol­icy con­fer­ence pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to find our­selves and reaf­firm the char­ac­ter and val­ues our move­ment will stand and fall on.

Oth­ers have been quick to sug­gest that we have lost our­selves and for­saken the found­ing val­ues of our move­ment. We have no doubt that this pol­icy con­fer­ence not only pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for re­newal, it also pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to re­assert the ANC’s role as a po­lit­i­cal home that car­ries the hopes, dreams and as­pi­ra­tions of all South Africans. The con­fer­ence was poised to ar­tic­u­late pol­icy per­spec­tives that af­firm a char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the ANC as one with the peo­ple. His­tory has demon­strated the ANC’s im­mense ca­pac­ity to self-cor­rect, and it will un­doubt­edly rise to the oc­ca­sion in the craft­ing of pol­icy per­spec­tives that give prac­ti­cal ex­pres­sion to this self-re­newal.

We are un­der no il­lu­sion that the out­comes of the pol­icy con­fer­ence must be a con­crete ex­pres­sion of the will and as­pi­ra­tions of our peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the poor and the work­ing class.

In this third decade of our free­dom, the ANC must con­tinue to be the leader of all mo­tive forces that stand to ben­e­fit from the ad­vance­ment of the na­tional demo­cratic rev­o­lu­tion (NDR).

The ANC’s his­toric mis­sion to cre­ate a na­tion-state that is truly eman­ci­pated, truly non-racial and truly non-sex­ist must find prac­ti­cal ex­pres­sion in all our pol­icy per­spec­tives and must guide the ad­vance­ment of rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion at all times.

It must never elude us that the pact we en­tered with the peo­ple of South Africa in 1994 meant that the ANC not only be­longs to those who hold mem­ber­ship cards, but be­longs to ev­ery South African, and this re­al­ity must find ex­pres­sion in all its pro­grammes. Our quest for unity and co­he­sion ex­tends be­yond the ANC and in­cludes the broader na­tion.

The po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments over the last five years, both do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, came into sharp fo­cus as the del­e­gates ex­am­ined how th­ese have im­pacted on the char­ac­ter of the ANC and the trans­for­ma­tion project.

Th­ese dis­cus­sions will cul­mi­nate in the ar­tic­u­la­tion of key tasks for the ANC to ad­vance the NDR and the na­tional trans­for­ma­tion agenda which must give con­crete ex­pres­sion to rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion over the next five years.

Pres­i­dent OR Tambo, ad­dress­ing the 48th na­tional con­fer­ence in July 1991, re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of unity from the lessons of the Moro­goro na­tional con­sul­ta­tive con­fer­ence chal­lenges in fur­ther­ing the revo­lu­tion­ary strug­gle.

Unity is the lifeblood of the ANC, the ba­sis of its very ex­is­tence. The ANC is the con­certed ef­fort of the peo­ple to achieve their com­mon goals of a na­tional demo­cratic so­ci­ety, and this is the essence of its unity.

We owe it to those who sac­ri­ficed life and limb and whose blood nour­ished the tree that bore the fruits of our free­dom to de­fend the unity and co­he­sion of the ANC with ev­ery­thing we have. In do­ing so, we ought to be hon­est in our di­ag­no­sis of the chal­lenges and be ro­bust in ar­tic­u­lat­ing the so­lu­tions.

The pol­icy con­fer­ence also served as a fes­ti­val of ideas to craft a pol­icy di­rec­tion for the coun­try well into the fu­ture.

In the build-up to this pol­icy con­fer­ence we had in­vited all South Africans to en­gage with the ANC in con­ver­sa­tion on the pol­icy di­rec­tion they be­lieve will place the coun­try on a sound foot­ing.

This con­fer­ence was there­fore a cul­mi­na­tion of this ex­cit­ing con­ver­sa­tion, which will un­doubt­edly emerge with a blue­print of a fu­ture premised on the as­pi­ra­tions of or­di­nary South Africans.

The ANC, as a lis­ten­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion, is giv­ing con­crete ex­pres­sion to their views. The pres­i­dent reaf­firmed the ANC’s stance that the econ­omy is the apex pri­or­ity, hence con­fer­ence de­lib­er­a­tions re­flected this. Jeff Radebe is Head of ANC pol­icy, and Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency for Plan­ning, Per­for­mance, Mon­i­tor­ing, Eval­u­a­tion and Ad­min­is­tra­tion

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