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Mbeki: National Policy Conference 2007 (27/06/2007)

27th June 2007

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Date: 27/06/2007
Source: African National Congress
Title: Mbeki: National Policy Conference 2007

Speech of President Mbeki to ANC National Policy
Conference 2007

Comrade Chairperson,
Members of our National Executive Committee and leaders of the Alliance
formations,
Comrades delegates,
Our honoured guests:

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On behalf of our National Executive Committee, I would like to welcome all
the delegates to this important Conference of the African National Congress.
We will be meeting over the next four days to carry out a vital task.

That task is to try to define what the future of our country will be during
the five-year period leading to the Centenary of our movement in 2012. That
task is to try to define what the quality of life of the masses of our
people will be when we celebrate the historic 100th birthday of the African
National Congress.

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We will be meeting over the next four days to reflect on the policy
interventions we need to make to respond to this task.

I speak as I do about the direct and immediate relevance of the decisions we
will take with regard to the future of our country because I am certain that
once again, in 2009, the masses of our people will show their confidence in
our movement by renewing our mandate to govern South Africa!

Precisely because what we will do over the next few days is of such central
importance to the millions of South Africans, of all races, ages, geographic
dispersal, men and women, it is imperative that we approach our work with
all necessary seriousness, as I am certain we will.

We have already shown that seriousness in the discussions that have taken
place in our branches, regions and provinces, as we considered the policy
discussion documents prepared by our leadership to empower all of us
effectively to participate in the work of this Policy Conference.

In this regard, I would like to convey the sincere thanks of our National
Executive Committee to you, the delegates, all our structures, from the
branches upwards, our facilitators and our leadership collectives at all
levels, for the immense effort that was put into the work of reviewing our
policy positions, to determine what, in terms of our policies, we should
change and what we should keep, informed by the objective to build the
people-centred society that constitutes the very heart of the objectives of
the National Democratic Revolution.

I must also thank the members of the public and civil society organisations
for the effort they made critically to engage the Discussion Documents we
issued. I hope that even after this Policy Conference we will continue to
reach out to the public to ensure that we continue to listen to the voice of
the people.

As we all know, the decisions we take at this Policy Conference will be
finalised at our 52nd National Conference in December, our last Ordinary
National Conference before we celebrate our Centenary on January 8th 2012
and participate in the 2009 General Elections.

The work we do at this Policy Conference will greatly facilitate the
proceedings of the National Conference and give it the space to consider all
other matters that are central to the further advance of the National
Democratic Revolution.

Before I proceed any further, I would like to say something about the
African National Congress I have known for over 50 years. We are fortunate
that we have veterans among us who have known the ANC for longer periods
than I have, and whom I am pleased to welcome to the Policy Conference as
honoured delegates.

I will therefore speak about the ANC I know subject to such corrections as
they might choose to make - ready to accept that they may stand up and say -
Comrade President, you are wrong!

What I know of the ANC is that it is a people's movement. It is not, and has
never been a movement that was formed 95 years ago merely to represent the
interest of its members and its leaders. What I know of the ANC is that - ke
lekgotla la sechaba. Ukhongolozi ngumbutho wesizwe. The African National
Congress is and has always been a parliament of the people.

What I know is that the African National Congress was established 95 years
ago to serve the interests of the suffering masses of our people. It was not
formed to be, and has never been an instrument to advance the personal
interests of its members, regardless of the positions within the
organisation that any of its members might occupy.

Over the generations its members, the patriots we have been proud to address
as comrades, have maintained their membership of the African National
Congress inspired solely and exclusively by the noble objective to serve the
people of South Africa, expecting no reward for themselves except the
liberation and upliftment of the masses of our people.

Many of these members of the African National Congress lost their lives
during the countless battles that had to be waged to secure victory. Many of
these members of the African National Congress suffered extraordinary
persecution, served many years in apartheid prisons, and made immense
personal sacrifices to liberate our people.

Many of these members of the African National Congress were driven into
exile, far from their families and their land of birth, because they dared
to stand up to make the simple demand - freedom in our lifetime!

What I know of the African National Congress is that throughout its 95 years
of existence, it has always asked of every important decision it has
adopted, and all actions it has taken - do these bring the masses of our
people closer to the realisation of their dreams!

Put differently, at all times the African National Congress has always asked
itself the important question - is what we are saying and what we are doing
consistent with the wishes and aspirations of the masses of our people!

This is the African National Congress to which I belong, and to which you,
dear comrades, belong. In the event that anyone among us joined the African
National Congress because he or she understood it to be different from the
movement I have described, they are free to say so, and thus give us the
possibility once more to discuss the true nature of our movement.

This would enable us to restate the important truth that to join the ANC is
to make a solemn commitment to serve the people of South Africa, and that we
are here today to consider what we and our movement should do next,
faithfully to discharge our obligation as members of the African National
Congress, to serve the people of South Africa.

I have spoken as I have because over the recent past all of us, loyal
members of the African National Congress, have been subjected to a sustained
barrage of propaganda that has suggested that we remain members of the ANC
because we are determined to gain positions of power at the various levels
of government, and thus to use these positions of power to accumulate wealth
for ourselves and secure our positions of power by a mercenary dispensation
of patronage.

I have spoken as I have because even as we prepared for this Policy
Conference, that has absolutely nothing to do with who is or will be a
leader of the African National Congress, by virtue of election by our
membership, those responsible for the propaganda to which I have referred,
have made it a point to assert that what we will do over the next four days
is centrally driven by what they describe as "the leadership succession".

These have acted in the most determined manner to define the agenda of this
Policy Conference and the atmosphere that should surround our proceedings.
They have sought to ensure that even as we prepared to come here, it is not
issues of policy that should occupy our minds, but the so-called leadership
succession, in terms of which we would, from within our structures,
willingly corrupt everything that the African National Congress has stood
for, for 95 years, and accept that it is nothing more than a step ladder to
personal power.

In the period following the historic victory of the democratic revolution in
1994, strident calls were made by people who have never been interested in
the liberation of the oppressed that our movement, the ANC, must transform
itself into a political party. We insisted then, as we continue to do, that
we are a movement for national liberation.

Despite the victory of the democratic revolution, and our accession to power
through democratic elections, we remain, still, a movement for national
liberation. It may very well be that even some within our ranks have asked
themselves the question - indeed why do we accept to be described as the
ruling party, while, at the same time, we reject the demand that we should
transform ourselves into a political party!

The African National Congress was formed 95 years ago to liberate our people
from colonial oppression and white minority domination. That colonial and
racist domination had robbed the majority of its right to determine both its
destiny and the future of our country.

It had robbed the masses of our people of their right to land and all means
by which they could guarantee themselves as independent livelihood. It had
deliberately worked to impoverish these masses and ensure that they were
available to serve as an unskilled labour reservoir that would provide cheap
labour for the enrichment of the white minority.

It had done everything it could to ensure that it faced no competition from
among the oppressed in all fields, including skilled labour, the professions
and access to knowledge, and business. It had worked hard to guarantee that
its culture, its languages, its religious beliefs would define our being as
a country and people, and obliterate the memory and identity of the
overwhelming majority.

It saw as the objects of its racist policies, all the black oppressed,
regardless of race, gender and class, and sought to bribe the white working
people to accept both subservience to the colonial and racist power and an
obligation to cooperate in the subjugation of the black majority.

It had sought to position our country that is an integral part of the
African continent as a European outpost whose historic mission would be to
serve specifically European and generally the interests of the countries of
the North.

It is out of this reality that the ANC was born. It was formed to advance
the national interests of all the oppressed, regardless of distinctions of
race, class and gender.

At the same time, our movement knew that the democratic revolution would
also serve the fundamental interests of the white working people, who had
been bribed by the colonial and racist power with the specific purpose to
separate them from the black majority and use them, against their own long
term interests, as storm troopers to suppress the rebellion of the black
majority.

With your permission, I would like to quote from an important document
issued in 1996, entitled "The State and Social Transformation", in which
leaders of our broad movement said: "The most important current defining
feature of the South African democratic state is that it champions the
aspirations of the majority who have been disadvantaged by the many decades
of undemocratic rule. Its primary task is to work for the emancipation of
the black majority, the working people, the urban poor, the rural poor, the
women, the youth and the disabled. It is the task of this democratic state
to champion the cause of these people in such a way that the most basic
aspirations of this majority assume the status of hegemony, which informs
and guides policy and practice of all the institutions of government and
state.

"However, there is a need to recognise that the South African democratic
state also has the responsibility to attend to the concerns of the rest of
the population which is not necessarily part of the majority defined above.

"To the extent that the democratic state is objectively interested in a
stable democracy, so it cannot avoid the responsibility to ensure the
establishment of a social order concerned with the genuine interests of the
people as a whole, regardless of their racial, national, gender and class
differentiation. There can be no stable democracy unless the democratic
state attends to the concerns of the people as a whole and takes
responsibility for the evolution of the new society."

This defined the tasks of the ANC, and what we had to do to ensure that the
masses of our people benefited from the victory of the democratic
revolution.

And indeed, the democratic revolution has brought enormous benefits to all
sections of our population, starting with the complex of democratic rights
guaranteed by the Constitution adopted by the Constitutional Assembly in
1996, the laws we have adopted since 1994, and the decisions taken by our
courts.

This Policy Conference, and our movement as a whole, must indeed celebrate
the advances we have made to entrench democracy in our country. We should
constantly remind ourselves that the establishment of a democratic system of
governance has always been one of the central objectives of our struggle for
national liberation.

Even 13 years after the victory of the democratic revolution, its defence
and further entrenchment remains one of the principal tasks of the National
Democratic Revolution.

In this regard I must say that unfortunately the Discussion Document,
"Legislature and Governance for a National Democratic Society" does not
reflect on some of the major issues we should discuss relating to the task
to defend our democratic gains and further deepen our democratic system,
consistent with the perspective that - the people shall govern!

In this context I would like to mention such important issues as:

* the responsibility of the members and structures of our movement and the
broad democratic movement to defend the democratic state and its
institutions;
* respect for the institutions of the democratic state by members and
supporters of our movement;
* respect for the institutions of the democratic state and public property
owned by the people as a whole, during the exercise of the entrenched
democratic right to engage in public demonstrations;
* the use of force during public demonstrations and mass protests resulting
in such unacceptable actions as violent assaults against the people,
intimidation in various forms, looting and destruction of property;
* the deepening of popular participation in governance through such
interventions as the Ward Committee system and the Izimbizo process;
* the constituency work of our public representatives at national,
provincial and local levels, and its relevance to the process of
democratisation;
* the place of civic street committees and similar structures, as well as
non-governmental and community based organisations in the process of
deepening our democracy;
* the concerns raised by the media about restrictions to the freedom of the
press, as well as issues that relate to the responsibility and public
accountability of the media; and,
* the full integration of the institution of traditional government within
our democratic system of governance.

The Policy Conference gives us an opportunity to raise and consider all
these and other important issues relating to our democratic system, which
might inadvertently have been left out of our discussion documents.

Yet another important strategic objective of the national democratic
revolution is the eradication of poverty and therefore the restoration of
the dignity of all our people of all ages, including the young, the elderly
and the disabled, by liberating them from the indignity of hunger and want.

Necessarily, therefore, the Policy Conference will have to assess the policy
positions that have informed our activities since 1994 focused on:

* the growth and development of our economy;
* the more equitable sharing of the national wealth;
* the reduction of the inherited and persisting racial, gender and class
disparities in the distribution of income and wealth;
* employment creation and poverty eradication; and,
* the provision of a comprehensive and sustainable social security net.

The Discussion Document entitled "Economic Transformation for a National
Democratic Society" has provided us with a good base to consider the policy
issues that attach to the objectives I have mentioned.

All of us know, and our movement and government have made it a point
constantly to remind all our people that we still have a long way to go
before we achieve one of the central goals of the national democratic
revolution, the realisation of a better life for all our people, on a
sustainable basis. In this regard, we have pointed to the challenge posed by
unacceptably high levels of structural unemployment, persisting endemic
poverty, and underdevelopment that affects many of our urban and rural
areas.

As we have done in the past, we must again examine our policies and
programmes to determine what we need to do to accelerate our progress
towards the resolution of these problems.

But even as we do this, we must also celebrate the achievements we have
recorded during the years of democracy, brought about by the policies we put
in place, centred on the Reconstruction and Development Programme, and the
practical interventions we have made, based on these policy positions.

The discussion document prepared to lay the basis for our discussion of our
economic challenges correctly points to the important achievements we have
scored in the sustained struggle to realise the socio-economic goals of the
National Democratic Revolution.

In this regard, the facts speak for themselves. We have succeeded to place
our economy on a relatively high growth path. We have increased the
possibility for more of our people to engage in productive economic
activity.

We have immensely strengthened the capacity of our economy to compete
successfully in the global economy, and thus withstand international
competition in the provision of goods and services. This has given us the
possibility to protect our jobs on a sustainable basis, and to improve the
standard of living of our people on the basis of the greater wealth that our
economy will produce.

Through proper management of the public finances, the reorganisation and
better management of the state corporations, the establishment of the
correct regulatory framework, and the conclusion of the appropriate
international economic agreements, we have strengthened the capacity of the
democratic state to discharge its responsibility both to intervene in the
functioning of our economy directly, and to determine the framework within
which all spheres of the economy should operate.

We have created the macro-economic balances demanded by the Reconstruction
and Development Programme, as a result of which various aggregate components
of the economy have contributed and will contribute to the realisation of
the goal to grow and develop our economy in a manner that will benefit all
our people.

We have generated public sector resources that have helped enormously to
cushion millions of our people from the terrible impact of abject poverty.
This includes our capacity to empower our people to set themselves up as
independent producers, not forced to bow to the will of the major owners of
capital in our country and the rest of the world.

We have increased the social wage, to improve the quality of life of our
working people and reduce their absolute dependence on the proceeds of wage
labour. We have responded to this challenge in a manner that is sustainable,
not governed by any short term considerations. Accordingly, we have made
definite advances towards the realisation of the goal of a better life for
all our people, and laid the basis for the continuation of these advances
over the long term.

None of what I have said means that we have solved our historic problems of
unemployment and poverty, the challenge of achieving high savings and
investment rates, the diversification of our economy, the enormous racial,
gender and class disparities in the distribution of income, wealth and
opportunity, the underdevelopment of large parts of our country, including
the rural and historically black urban areas, low skills levels, challenges
of international competitiveness and balance of payments problems, and the
problem of inflationary pressures.

In addition to the issues I have raised, and as all the delegates know, the
strategic goals of the National Democratic Revolution, which also define
this revolution, include building a non-racial society, a non-sexist
society, a society that develops and empowers our people with disabilities,
our youth and our children.

This Policy Conference has an obligation to ask itself the critically
important questions - what progress have we made towards the realisation of
these objectives? Have we put in place the policies and programmes to
achieve these outcomes? What policies do we need to accelerate our advance
towards building a country defined by the perspective of a truly caring and
people-centred society?

I am certain that all of us would like to see greater progress in the
pursuit of the important goal of the emancipation of women. In this regard,
quite correctly, we have continued to engage the challenge of achieving
gender parity both within our ranks, in the structures of governance and in
our society as a whole. As we achieve new successes in this area, we must
continue to focus on the socio-economic problems facing the women of our
country, which still make black women the poorest section of our population.

In this context, I must again express the deep concern of our movement at
the continuing abuse, rape and killing of women and children. The gravity of
this problem has been highlighted by the murder of six-year-old Mikayla
Rossouw of Swellendam.

I know that this Policy Conference, on behalf of the entirety of our
membership, conveys its deep-felt sympathies to the Rossouw family and other
families that have experienced similar tragedies. I know also that we will
discuss with the greatest seriousness our own responsibility as members of
the ANC to the struggle radically to improve safety and security in our
homes and our communities.

If I may, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and salute the
women patriots who gathered yesterday not far from here, at Khayalami
(Kyalami), to celebrate the adoption of the Freedom Charter 52 years ago on
June 26th, 1955. They also raised R2 million as a contribution to the ANC,
to help empower our movement further to strengthen our democracy and ensure
that it continues to address the challenges of the emancipation of women and
the upliftment of all our people.

I am certain that all of us would like to see greater progress in the
struggle to eradicate the legacy of racism which continues to manifest
itself in our society in thousands of ways, indicating the distance we still
have to travel before we achieve the strategic objective of the National
Democratic Revolution of the creation of a non-racial society.

Similar challenges continue to face us with regard to the development and
empowerment of the youth, the development and empowerment of people with
disabilities, and the effective protection of the rights of children.

I am certain the Policy Conference will address all these important matters
to empower our movement to accelerate our country's advance towards the
realisation of the goal of an inclusive and people-centred society.

However we must also acknowledge the reality that over the last 13 years,
our movement as the governing party, has made important strides with regard
to addressing the challenges we have mentioned, and creating the material
base for us to move forward faster towards the resolution of these problems.

In this regard, I must state and restate this fundamental truth with
absolutely no hesitation, that objectively and practically, it is not
possible to solve problems that have accumulated over 350 years in the mere
13 years of our democracy.

Claims that have been made that this is possible, and that we could have
solved the socio-economic problems we inherited, during the short years of
our democracy, are obviously incorrect.

This Policy Conference gives us the possibility seriously to discuss these
claims. I must also say this that this Conference also gives us the
possibility to discuss the assertions I have made, that it is not possible
to solve problems that have been 350 years in the making in a mere 13 years
of democratic rule.

You, fellow delegates, are at perfect liberty to argue that I am wrong in
making this assertion, and that our movement has been wrong in making this
assertion, and that during the conferences the African National Congress has
held since our unbanning in 1990, we could have adopted other policies that
could have eradicated a 350-year legacy in 13 years!

In this context the issue of the relationship between the national
democratic and the socialist revolutions has been raised once again.

I hope that as we reflect on matters raised in the Draft Strategy and
Tactics document we will discuss this important matter that our movement has
grappled with for many decades. However, I must restate some of the
fundamental conclusions that have informed the functioning of the broad
movement for national liberation for many decades already, which enabled
this movement to achieve the historic democratic victory of 1994 as a united
and disciplined force for progressive change.

One of these conclusions is that there is a distinct, material and
historically determined difference between the national democratic and the
socialist revolutions. Objectively, and not by proclamation or conference
resolutions, the ANC necessarily serves as the leader of the forces
committed to the victory of the National Democratic Revolution, which
struggle for the realisation of the national democratic goals of the masses
of our people.

For many decades already, our movement, the African National Congress,
precisely because it accepted and supported the right of our people to
choose their path of development, accepted the proposition that our ally,
the SACP, and not the ANC, would lead the forces and the struggle for the
victory of the socialist revolution.

I must emphasise this again today, as we begin our Policy Conference, that
the ANC would respect any decision by the masses of our people that rather
than the national democratic revolution, they prefer to support and pursue a
socialist revolution.

Equally, the ANC would respect the right and duty of our ally, the South
African Communist Party, to lead the struggle for the victory of the
socialist revolution. Our movement has never stopped or discouraged the SACP
from playing this role, and will not do so today or tomorrow.

Recognising and respecting the independence of our ally, the SACP, and
understanding its role as the leader of the socialist revolution, the ANC
has never sought to prescribe to the SACP the policies it should adopt, the
programmes of action it should implement, and the leaders it should elect.
It has never obstructed the SACP in its socialist objectives, and therefore
joined the reactionary anti-communist forces.

Historically, the ANC has deeply appreciated the fact that over the decades,
the SACP has defined itself as an integral part of the national liberation
movement, of our movement committed to the victory of the National
Democratic Revolution, and therefore accepted that, objectively, the ANC
must serve as the leader of the NDR.

In this context, the SACP has always understood that it could not delegate
its socialist tasks to the ANC, consistent with the fact that the tasks of
the socialist revolution could not be delegated to the National Democratic
Revolution. For many decades, the SACP has therefore not seen and acted
against the ANC as its political competitor, which we are not.

I mention these matters that have to do with the Strategy and Tactics of
both the national democratic and the socialist revolutions because in the
recent past suggestions have been made that the ANC has not eradicated the
legacy of 350 years of colonialism and apartheid because our successive
conferences, starting with the Consultative Conference at NASREC in 1990,
have not adopted what some have characterised as socialist policies.

Again, let me restate the fundamental conclusion that, for many decades, has
informed the functioning of the Alliance and the relations within its ranks,
that the SACP has never sought to delegate its socialist tasks to the ANC,
and has never sought to impose on the national democratic revolution the
tasks of the socialist revolution. Neither has the ANC ever demanded that
the SACP should abandon its socialist perspectives, and limit itself only to
the achievement of the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution.

I must also add this, that already during the 1940s, if not earlier, our
movement recognised the strategic position that our working class occupied
and would occupy in our economy, in our society, and in all our struggles to
achieve the victory of the National Democratic Revolution.

As the colonial-apartheid system evolved, characterised in part by massive
land dispossession, it became ever clearer that the majority of the black
people were being thrown into the ranks of the proletariat, and therefore
that to speak of a democratic revolution that benefits the people was to
speak of a democratic revolution that benefits the working class.

Accordingly, to speak about the motive forces of the National Democratic
Revolution was to speak of the working class as a leading echelon in the
struggle for national liberation, which would also organise and fight for
its interests in terms of higher wages and better working conditions, and a
role in determining the future of our country.

You comrades may very well ask why I show disrespect for you and this
important Policy Conference by repeating what to you constitute the ABC of
your political education and understanding, as well as my own.

And so let me explain myself. I have said what I have said to make the
immensely important point that the historical evolution of our society has
meant and means for the ANC that to secure the victory of the National
Democratic Revolution, our movement must draw into the common struggle our
country's democratic forces, our country's socialist forces, and our
country's
proletariat.

This means that our Alliance, composed of the ANC, the SACP and COSATU,
expanded to include SANCO, is not a product merely of intelligent conference
resolutions. It is an imperative imposed on us by the nature of our society
and the ideas and organisational formations that have developed within the
bosom of that society.

The Alliance will therefore survive and thrive and continue to combine and
coalesce as the vanguard mass formation representative of the overwhelming
majority of our people, charged with the historic task to accomplish the
goals of the National Democratic Revolution.

The objective reality in our country is that the National Democratic
Revolution cannot succeed if it does not contain among its motive forces our
country's socialist, trade union and civic movements.

The objective reality in our country is that the trade union and civic
movements cannot achieve the goals they pursue if the National Democratic
Revolution does not succeed in its objectives.

The objective reality in our country is that the victory of the socialist
revolution cannot be achieved outside the context of the victory of the
National Democratic Revolution.

As we consider our policy positions during this Conference, these realities
about what the Alliance is and what the Alliance means, are some of the
fundamental considerations that must inform our work, bearing in mind what
was said a mere two years after our liberation, that "There can be no stable
democracy unless the democratic state attends to the concerns of the people
as a whole and takes responsibility for the evolution of the new society."

Those of us who are familiar with European classical music may remember the
comment attributed to the famous German composer, Ludwig von Beethoven,
when, speaking of his 9th Symphony, the "Chorale", he said: "Mankind may
perish, but the 9th will live forever!"

On behalf of our National Executive Committee and the entirety of the ANC, I
am pleased once more to welcome to our Policy Conference the delegates
representing the SACP, COSATU, SANCO and other formations of the democratic
movement. Their presence here signifies precisely the point that all of us
may indeed perish, but the Alliance will live forever!

The ANC remains committed to what, necessarily, will be a protracted
struggle for the victory of the National Democratic Revolution, that,
objectively, will continue to demand that the ANC discharges its obligation
to lead the entirety of the democratic movement.

This is what should guide our discussions during this important Policy
Conference, focused on our obligation to advance the National Democratic
Revolution and therefore determine the policies that would help us to
achieve this objective. Our movement must indeed "attend to the concerns of
the people as a whole and take responsibility for the evolution of the new
society".

Our practical experience over the past 13 years has confirmed the complexity
of the struggle we have to wage to build the kind of South Africa for which
many of our people made enormous sacrifices. In many areas we have had to
take various initiatives with no possibility to draw on any previous
experience anywhere else in the world.

The nature of the society we inherited and the impact on us of a rapidly
changing international environment mean that our movement must indeed
develop the necessary capacity, ingenuity and maturity successfully to "take
responsibility for the evolution of the new society."

For 95 years our movement has lived up to the expectations of the masses of
our people for liberation and development. It successfully led the
many-sided struggle that obliged the apartheid regime to enter into
negotiations to end white minority rule. It successfully led the transition
to democratic rule resulting in the victory of the Democratic Revolution in
1994.

It has successfully led the process to ensure the stability of our country,
away from the threat of racial conflict and counter-revolutionary
disturbances. It has responded to the challenges of reconstruction and
development in a manner that has given hope to the masses of our people and
strengthened their confidence in a better future for our country.

I say all this to make the critically important point that our leadership
has the fullest confidence in our movement, the ANC, that it will continue
to live up to its responsibility effectively to respond to the challenge of
the reconstruction and development of our country into the non-racial,
non-sexist and prosperous democracy that the National Democratic Revolution
must build.

And indeed the objective reality in our country is that in the same way that
the defeat of the apartheid regime would not have been possible without the
ANC, so would it not be possible to construct the new South Africa without
the ANC.

This underlines the historic responsibility that rests on the shoulders of
all the delegates to the Policy Conference, all other members of the ANC and
all our structures, properly to position themselves to carry out the task of
the fundamental social transformation of our country.

Consistent with our internationalist traditions, this obligation also
relates to the work we must do further to advance the African Renaissance
and contribute to the building of a better world, even as we confront the
challenges of globalisation and the unjust distribution of power within the
system of global governance.
In this context I trust that all of us gave ourselves time to study and
respond to the Discussion Document, "Towards the Centenary of the ANC: A
Strategic Agenda for Organisational Renewal."

The Document concludes with the words: "The ANC has evolved and developed
into a people's movement and agent for change over many years of struggle
and sacrifice. It had to overcome serious obstacles and setbacks in the long
road to freedom and democracy. Our movement has a track record of being a
trusted leader and loyal servant people. Its strength lies in its ability to
renew itself ideologically and organisationally, to take account of new
developments and new challenges. However, this ability for self-renewal
cannot be taken for granted. It is a task that every generation has to
grapple with and accomplish, based on the requirements and tasks of the each
situation. Any organisational review and renewal proposals for the ANC have
to pass one test: to what extent do they enhance the capacity of the
movement to remain a trusted leader, loyal servant of the people and an
agent for change! This is the main challenge."

The Document ends by inviting "all cadres to join in the festival of ideas
about the fundamental challenge of strengthening our movement so that it
remains a trusted leader, loyal servant of the people and an agent for
change!"

To discharge this historic responsibility, we must continue to pay the
closest attention to the accomplishment of the task we set ourselves at the
2000 National General Council, the task to build new cadres who are truly
committed to serve the people, and who must develop the necessary capacity
and competence to handle the complex process of the construction of a new
society and a new world.

This important Policy Conference must itself also be characterised by a
festival of ideas, producing the rich complex of policies that will confirm
to the people that their movement, the ANC, indeed remains a trusted leader,
a loyal servant of the people, a true agent for such change as will enable
the masses of our people fully to realise their aspirations.

Borrowing the words of an unknown poet, the great and towering movement of
our people, the ANC, has every right to say of itself:

Ke tsetswe ke mosadi motshwarathipa
Ke tsetswe, ka belegwa, ka rupa.
Dikgatlampi, Mebitlwa le Mekong
Ke di sutlhile..
Ka tswa ntlheng ELE! Ke tshotse sefoka!...
Ke sutlha ke tshotse lesedi go bonega Afrika
Ka ke le moAfrika ke antse
Ke antse la mme ngwana' mmala wa sebilo
Ka ke tsetswe ke mosadisadi!

On behalf of the National Executive Committee, I wish the Policy Conference
success in its important work.

Amandla!

 

 


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