MINIMUM WAGE REALIZES THE DEMAND OF THE FREEDOM CHARTER

CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

The agreement by social partners to introduce a national minimum wage by 1 May 2018 realizes a key demand of the Freedom Charter on the Rights and Conditions of Workers.

It also fulfills a commitment made by the ANC in its 2014 Election Manifesto to examine the modalities for the introduction of a national minimum wage.

Its introduction is a great victory for working people and for COSATU, in particular, which has consistently championed the national minimum wage over many years.

The agreement that has been reached owes much to the hard work of COSATU, together with its Alliance partners, to improve the lives of South Africa’s lowest paid workers.

It is a demonstration of the practical gains that the Alliance can achieve when working together in a collaborative and united manner.

The introduction of a minimum wage gives real substance to the ANC’s working class bias.

Building on such achievements as the Constitutional guarantee of the Right to Strike, the Labour Relations Act and Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the minimum wage reaffirms the movement’s determination to place the poor and working class at the centre of its policies and programmes.

Significantly, the minimum wage agreement reflects a recognition even by business that income inequality is a major obstacle to economic growth and development.

The Ekurhuleni Declaration, which was adopted by all social partners in November 2014 and which laid the basis for the current agreement, notes that legacy of low wages is among the biggest causes of poverty and inequality in South Africa.

It has been more than 60 years since delegates to the Congress of the People in Kliptown resolved that: “There shall be a forty-hour working week, a national minimum wage, paid annual leave and sick leave for all workers, and maternity leave on full pay for all working mothers.”

Yet while working conditions have improved immeasurably and the rights of workers are entrenched in the Constitution, millions of workers are paid less than what is considered a living wage – the amount needed to ensure a decent standard of living.

There is a huge gap between the highest and lowest earners in the economy. It is estimated that in 2014, the average income of the top 10% of full-time employees was 82 times the average income of the bottom 10%.

The wage gap reinforces the severe economic inequality that persists more than 20 years after the end of apartheid and, together with unemployment, accounts for our high levels of poverty.

The introduction of a national minimum wage of R20 an hour by 1 May 2018 will have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people. Currently, around half of all people in employment – which amounts to roughly 6.6 million workers – earn less than R20 an hour. This includes around 90% of domestic workers, over 80% of agricultural workers and around half of all construction workers and wholesale and retail workers.

While this is not yet what may be considered a living wage, the national minimum wage will have a huge impact on the lives of these workers, lifting their incomes and improving the living conditions of their families.

The impact is likely to be most profoundly felt by women workers. The 2015 Labour Market Dynamics in South Africa Report finds that the median wage for employed women among the bottom quarter of wage earners was 75% of that for men.

Which means that these women earn around a quarter less than men. The national minimum wage will help to correct that.

This is likely to improve further with time as the minimum wage for domestic workers, the majority of whom are women, is steadily increased from 75% of the national minimum wage to full parity. (Agricultural workers, the other ‘tiered’ category, will start at 90% of the national minimum wage.)

The benefits of the minimum wage will be felt across the economy. With more income, the buying power of these workers will improve and increase demand for certain goods and services. This will contribute to greater economic activity, increased production and more jobs.

Poor families will enjoy better living conditions, have a chance to acquire assets and improve prospects for the next generation. It will contribute to the development of more stable and sustainable communities.

The national minimum wage could help to address the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. International experience suggests that a national minimum wage can reduce levels of poverty and inequality, particularly when accompanied by other poverty alleviation and job creation measures.

There is a growing body of international evidence that when set at a reasonable level national minimum wages have no significant employment effect one way or the other.

In their deliberations on the level of the national minimum wage, the social partners were conscious of the need to agree on a level that would make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and would contribute to the reduction of wage inequality, while ensuring that it was affordable to employers. There was a concern that if the level was set to high, companies may be forced to shut down, would refuse to comply or would lay off workers.

The agreement therefore makes provision for the impact of the national minimum wage on jobs, poverty and economic growth to be regularly reviewed. This will be done by a National Minimum Wage Commission, which will also have responsibility for the annual adjustment of the level of the minimum wage.

In addition, businesses that are unable to afford the national minimum wage may apply for an exemption for up to 12 months. Any fragile sectors that are having difficulty in complying with the NMW will be considered for assistance within the available means, including through incentives.

The social partners will finalise discussions over the next few weeks on issues such as the Commission’s institutional arrangements, minimum daily working hours and the status of Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) participants.

The discussion on the inclusion or exclusion of EPWP is particularly important, given the role of this and other public employment programmes in poverty alleviation. In contrast to regular jobs in the economy, public employment programmes provide work opportunities for specific periods to unemployed people so that they can receive a basic income – in the form of a stipend – and gain skills and work experience.

Government has argued that if the stipends were to be set at the level of national minimum wage, it would, given the current constraints on the budget, be able to fund far fewer participants. It is estimated that over 300,000 such work opportunities could be lost a year. Labour and the community sector have taken a different view, arguing that these work opportunities should be considered the same as regular jobs. This matter will need to be resolved before the national minimum wage is finalised.

The social partners will be undertaking extensive public consultation on the introduction of the national minimum wage ahead of the finalisation of the necessary legislation.

The introduction of a national minimum wage is seen as a step towards reducing wage inequality in South Africa.

However, there is much more that needs to be done to make a lasting and meaningful impact. The social partners have therefore agreed to continue with deliberations on other measures to reduce wage inequality and to address the needs of the poor, including through the introduction of comprehensive social security.

The agreements reached by the social partners demonstrate how all sectors of South African society can work together to give effect to our vision of economic transformation and the promise of a better life for all.

The manner in which these agreements were reached, following many months of intense negotiations in which social partners had to reconcile quite divergent positions, signal a willingness by all constituencies to find workable solutions to even the most intractable of our challenges. These agreements could be the genesis of a broader social compact on the key economic tasks we need to undertake to decisively move South Africa forward.

CDE. CYRIL RAMAPHOSA IS ANC DEPUTY-PRESIDENT

 

THE SOCIAL COMPACT: A KEY TO A DEVELOPMENT STATE

ADV. NGOAKO RAMATLHODI

The Developmental State is a modern concept that has its foundations in the development of society and state.

The State is equally in a state of becoming, and remaking. Indeed, humankind has always been in the process of perfecting instruments of governance, right through feudalism and into contemporary statehood.

Similarly, international governance institutions such as the UN system has also gone through challenging times in the 20TH century.

In South Africa consolidation of the democratic project is in full swing, with the separation of powers between the Judiciary, the Government (Executive) and the Legislature (Parliament).

Everyone is increasingly equal before the law and all enjoys equal rights.

The end of the 19th century saw the culmination of all wars of conquest across Europe, Africa and right across the world and the development of what is called nation states in the contemporary narrative.

The wars had cost millions of lives and resulted in dispossession, colonialism, racism and oppression. Many nations had been conquered, such as the conquest by Prussia to create the modern Germany. Latin America and Asia were not spared from the colonial malaise of the 1800’s.

The French revolution accelerated the development of what in modern society refers to as democracy, equality and non-sexism.

In the midst of all these political and historical developments, there were intervening social and economic developments in these centuries, such as the period of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.

The Industrial Revolution for its part revolutionized society and hastened the development of the productive forces. The Industrial Revolution developed what we call motor cars, aircraft, typewriters et cetera. To date the development of trade, migration and cosmopolitan societies of Johannesburg, New York and London could be attributed to the developments of the 19th century.

Africans were influenced by these crucial developments and in return also reaped the developments of society.

At the turn of the 20th century, more and more Africans began their own struggles for independence.

In South Africa, the struggle for free and independent, democratic republic also intensified. Pixley Ka Seme issued a call on all Africans to forget the past and unite together in one national organization. “We are one people, this divisions, this jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today,” he proclaimed.

This was the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) as we would come to know it today.

The ANC was to prosecute the struggle for the free and democratic South Africa for 82 years to realize the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). Since the successful prosecution of the NDR in 1994, the National Liberation Movement (NLM) has been seized with the task of transforming society and the economy to the benefit all of South Africa as envisaged in the freedom charter, “The People Shall share in the Country’s wealth”.

Important strides have been made in the improvement of people’s lives, such as over 2 million houses built for the poor. Current statistics from Stats SA showed that as of October 2016, 89.9% of all people have access to water, 77% have access to sanitation, 85% have access to electricity and indeed 77% of our people live in formal housing.

In the January 8th statement of 1984, Cde OR Tambo said, “You are aware that the apartheid regime maintains extensive administrative system through which it directs our lives. This system includes organs of central and provincial government, the army and the police, the judiciary, the Bantustans administrations, the community council the local management and local affairs committees. It is these institutions of apartheid power that we must attack and demolish, as part of the struggle to put an end to the racist minority rule in our country”. (Statement of the National Executive Committee, 8 Jan 1984)

The 1994 breakthrough allowed the revolutionary forces to begin rolling back apartheid laws, develop policies to undo centuries of racial oppression and economic bondage of black majority by a small white minority. The National Liberation Movement (NLM) characterizes this as a colonialism of a special type; a special type emanating from the fact that the colonized and the colonizer are within borders of the same country.

The democratic order began its primary task of uniting our country, fostering reconciliation as well as building social cohesion.

However, it became increasingly clear in the following years that there was a need to accelerate economic growth and redistribution. Our movement has of course responded to all challenges at material times; such as the intervening policies, namely the Growth employment and Redistribution (GEAR), ASGISA, GIPSA and several other policy interventions.

Despite the ANC’s ongoing transformation policies, the task of transforming apartheid special and economic development has proved to be difficult.

We may have underestimated the damage and ravages of apartheid and therefore we have produced the National Development Plan (NDP).

The NDP calls for integrated development that cut across the social and political life. It includes deepening of economic transformations, all round training of the human resources, re- industrialization of the country, increasing the number of artisan and occupational skills, and growing the tax base though massive employment programmes, as well as a raft of social protection and health policies.

In the current trajectory, the 51st and 52nd National Conference of the ANC enjoin the ANC, its alliance and the government to transform the state and the economy so that they all reflect the will of the majority.

This must be done in the context of the creation of the Developmental State. This transformation has proved challenging in the dominant economic sectors of our economy, namely; mining finance and services as a whole. The challenges of transformation are magnified by the fact that of the top 100 companies in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies, there are only 3% of black directors.

A Developmental State is self-defining. Its self-definition does not however, mean that every development be it material, physical or otherwise constitutes a developmental state or elements of it.

A developmental state requires of our nation to build a cohesive state and united in action with its people in civil society, trade unions, the government and its para-statals.

The building of the Developmental State will require that the nation as a whole has a social compact. The social compact will bind all social partners including government, business and labour to have a covenant to do things that would make South Africa a prosperous nation.

In realizing this goal, the ANC and its alliance are in agreement in the building of this desired state. This end state is the same scenario envisaged in the NDP Vision 2030.

This will require the following:

To continue strengthening institutions of the state do deepen democracy, economic and social rights. The building of democratic institutions will require of all of us in the state and government to appoint properly qualified individuals in government in order to create an effective and capable government and state.

Bad practices, such as employment of unqualified people including nepotism must be abolished to ensure that people with the technical and political know are appointed to lead and transform the economy as the resolutions from the 53rd National Conference correctly argue.

In our quest to deepen the understanding of our movement’s theory of development state, The 53rd  National Conference resolves to ensure bold forms of state intervention, including through financial regulation and control, including through a state owned bank; progressive and redistributive taxation; wage and income policies that promote decent work, growth and address poverty and inequality; progressive  competition policies that promote growth and employment, and address poverty and inequality; a well-resourced  state-led industrial and trade policy; increased state ownership in strategic sectors where deemed appropriate on the balance of evidence, and more effective use of state-owned enterprises.

In order for our movement and the democratic government to realize this goal it is crucial that greater care must be placed on increasing the ability of the leadership of the public service to meet these needs. The cadre that our movement and government needs is a cadre that will roll back corruption in state and society.

Our public service should be more and more professional, accountable and be guided by our movement’s values of Batho Pele.

All these means our movement should be able to deploy cadres with right professional skills to be able to deliver on the promise of a better life for all.

Our experience in the last 22 years has showed that where there are skills relevant to the work, the public service is delivering on the mandate of our people and people’s aspiration. The Auditor-General in his audit outcomes show this.

Cadre deployment should also be matched against the skills if this developmental state is to take off the ground.

The Developmental State would be a State without corruption.

It will have at the heart of its employees, the desire and need to serve without expecting any reward, as employees are already rewarded through salaries and other associated benefits.

The Developmental State will get rid of wastage in the system of government, and pilferage that occurs without stealing of legitimate social programmes, such as social grants and other form of social assistance. Let’s make corruption history!

The end state of the Developmental State as envisaged in the NDP needs proper funding.

The success of the NDP will raise incomes and close income inequality and make poverty history.

However, this programme will need to be financed, and experience in the last two decade shows that the private sector is on what could be referred to as investments strike.

Grant Thornton released a report in 2013 in which they argue that South African companies were sitting on large sum of cash and not investing in the economy because of confidence and other factors.

It is estimated by the South African Reserve Bank that the private sector may be sitting of something between 578 – billion 1.38 trillion in cash reserves as of 2013.

There are no signs that the private sector is going to change direction or course to be in pursuit of the same goal as the ANC, namely; eradicating poverty, eliminating inequality, abolishing racism and sexism, and reducing unemployment to at least 6% by 2030 as called upon by the NDP.

Currently, the state is in no position to drive the Developmental State using its own resources without the participation of the society as a whole.

The private sector is sitting with huge financial resources like pensions. But these are only involved in currency speculation with little tangible benefit to ordinary people, such as members of the pension funds.

Many pensioners when they retire return to their areas of birth which more often than not, is in the rural areas and not in towns.

This means that pensioners spend many of their prime years developing cities which do not benefit them when they become pensioners.

Moreover, some of the workers remain poor even on retirement and have no housing or medical coverage, and therefore become a burden on the State.

To deepen the developmental state, government has to increase its investment in infrastructure and maintenance.

The trade unions, for their part, have agreed to the use of pensions to increase investment in infrastructure. The funds held by provident and pension funds could be harnessed to create the building block for a capable state.

These funds run into trillions and are sitting in many JSE- listed companies. Unlocking these funds would unleash one of the greatest recoveries after the Marshall Plan.

Even 20% of prescribed assets as agreed with labour and business at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) would release massive financial resources to build more roads, bridges, houses and therefore stimulate the economy.

This will build new road networks and decrease the time of travel from one town to the next.

Small and big business will benefit from shorter times to do business and so will the workers take shorter time to work.

It is for our country and all its stakeholders to agree on the minimum programme for the creation of the Development State.

Amongst the conditions we contemplate is the fast-tracking of the state-owned bank to focus on developing the rural economy and the many black people who do not have collateral resources.

The development of the state housing company has already seen its development with Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS). This is still at its embryonic stage and we will be observing its success so that it could catapult our country to the desired government housing company.

When we harness the energy of all our people towards the Developmental State, we will create the possibility of linking villages through bridges and roads; and therefore create new markets and new economic fronts. Our people’s standard of living will improve as more and more people would have proper housing and thereby release government from being the sole provider of housing to low income earners.

This task begins now.

CDE ADV NGOAKO RAMATLHODI IS A MEMBER OF THE ANC NEC AND THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION

 

CELEBRATING THE 30th ANNIVERSARY OF SAYCO – “THE YOUNG LIONS”

BAPHELAOBED BAPELA

As celebrated in January Statement of 2017; it is the 30th Anniversary of SAYCO, an organization of the Young Lions, that roared the ANC to power.

Cde. Peter Mokaba called them the “Shock Troops of our Revolution”.

History bears witness to their role in fighting apartheid and colonialism.

Between 1983 and 1993 over 2 700 young people were killed/massacred and assassinated. Over 60 000 were detained during the State of Emergency of 1985 to 1986, some of them spending years incarcerated.

During apartheid’s darkest days, many went into exile to train as MK combatants gaining the detachment name of the Young Lions.

Most others who did not go to exile remained behind and trained internally – becoming part of the Self Defense Units (SDU’s) against the surrogate forces of apartheid. These Young Lions were the last line of defense against the aggression of the brutal enemy.

The story of the Young Lions has not been fully inscribed in the chronicles of history.

Each terrain of struggle has its own story to tell, from Gugulethu, to Kwa-Mashu, Mamelodi, Alexandra, Soweto, Mankweng, Galeshewe, Botshabelo, Siyabuswa, Bisho, Mahwelereng, New Brighton, Kwa-Nyamazane, Kagiso, Kwa Thema, Duduzane, Lamontville, Sharpville, Seshego, Ga-Nchabeleng, Langa, Cradock, Kwa-Maphumlo, Driefontein, Kanana and many others.

The Young Lions operated with zeal and determination to defeat the enemy, forcing the apartheid police to retreat. They used all means at their disposal, from stones, to petrol bombs, to mass-mobilization, to consumer and school boycotts to stay-aways to force the hand of the mighty Nationalist Party regime.

This came as the enemy was bringing troops into the townships including the notorious Koevoet (a specialized unit operating in Namibia) and using assassinations squads to break our comrades. During this time many comrades disappeared or were assassinated, with their whereabouts unknown to this very day.

The Young Lions openly defied the apartheid regime. They effectively unbanned the then-banned ANC and SACP.

Every funeral or activity was an ANC site of struggle, with flags openly displayed including the biggest flag ever displayed at the funeral of the Cradock 4, (Mathew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlawuli) in 1985.

They declared their support for Freedom Charter. They listened to Radio Freedom. They followed the line of march as we called it. The ANC was their organization and OR Tambo their commander.

Thanks to the generation of Young Lions (whom some disparagingly referred to as the lost generation) we enjoy the fruits of liberation. And yet many of them are poor, unemployed, still feeling the after-effects of the brutality of the regime such as torture, neglected by the welfare system and condemned to a life of deprivation.

Yet it was they who gave their all to liberate this country. They deserve recognition.

We know we were not in struggle for personal gain or for self glory; but acknowledging those who fought the enemy is what each nation does. Every nation honors its heroes and heroines with history books, museums, monuments, statutes and memory walls.

Even in prison and detention, the Young Lions embarked on hunger strikes that went for months. They declared that unless they were released they would never end the hunger strikes. Many ended up in hospital with others escaping to foreign embassies and then going into exile where they would intensify the campaign for the international isolation of apartheid South Africa.

Indeed, the “Freedom or Death – Victory is Certain”, slogan of SAYCO was alive. Their efforts eventually saw comrade stalwarts like Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu and others getting released from prison. This was later followed with the release of detainees and political prisoners, leading to unbanning of our movements and return of exiles.

We see this generation as the most daring, undeterred and brave -ready to die for the cause. Yet those who want to undermine their contribution to the struggle for total liberation refer to them as lumpen or “ibovu”.

They were simply the best generation of fighters. They fought at home and in the belly of the Beast. They were in trenches and on the frontline. They were tortured, killed, assassinated, disappeared, massacred, detained and imprisoned, but they feared nothing.

Let us honor them as we celebrate the 30 years of SAYCO; which became the national umbrella body of Youth Congresses established from from 1992 following the COSAS Resolution to form youth movements.

Let us include the chapters on the period 1979 to 1993; the Era of the Young Lions in our history books; as we did with other chapters in the liberation history of South Africa.

Let us trace our Young Lions, let us create a chatroom for them so they can come forward and tell their stories. We owe it to them. We owe it to history. We owe it to the future.

CDE OBED BAPELA IS A MEMBER OF THE ANC NEC. HE WAS A JUNE 16TH ACTIVIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER OF COSAS AS AN ANC UNDERGROUND OPERATIVE. HE WAS AN ALEX YOUTH CONGRESS ACTIVIST AND LEADER, UDF ACTIVIST, AN ACCUSED IN THE CRADOCK RED FLAG TRIAL AND IN THE ALEXANDRA FIVE TREASON TRIAL. HE IS A FORMER LEADER OF THE ANC IN THE FORMER PWV REGION.

 

 

ANC LEKGOTLA UNITED TOWARDS COMMON GOAL

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA

The National Executive Committee (NEC) elected at the ANC’s 53rd National Conference in Mangaung has just concluded its last January lekgotla ahead of the organization’s 54th National Conference to be held later this year.

The occasion has provided us with the opportunity to thoroughly study the resolutions taken at Mangaung and look at whether this current NEC has over the past year fulfilled the mandate that it was elected for.

We have done so mindful that our actions must re-assure our people that the ANC remains the only representative of all their hopes and aspirations for a better life.

This year’s ANC’s January 8 statement informed our discussions and work at the lekgotla. The statement covered a lot of issues and priorities that we want to focus on for this year as a movement.

Aside from reviewing our performance as the NEC over the past year, the lekgotla focused on translating the January 8 statement into a practical programme of action.

In reviewing performance in the past year, we bore in mind the outcome of last year’s municipal elections.

Our people sent a particular message to us during the local government elections; and we have accepted publicly that we made mistakes and that we will correct those mistakes in practice and in a visible manner.

Having discussed the election outcome extensively in the NEC we will now focus on solutions.

With approximately two years before the next national elections, how we perform and conduct ourselves as the ANC in the party and in government will to a large extent determine the results of those elections.

The ANC has a mission to fulfill, and that is to advance the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and to transform this country.

The electoral outcome demonstrated that people want action in a number of areas and the January 8 statement has outlined these critical areas.

Primarily, the main issue is transforming and growing the economy.

Access to land, jobs, fighting crime and corruption and the access to basic services also remain critical.

Primarily, economic transformation has to happen, and this should not be just a slogan.

The ANC’s economic vision rests on the Freedom Charter’s call for the people to share in South Africa’s wealth.

The equitable society we intend to build, in which there is decent work for all, can only be achieved through accelerated transformation of the economy.

The ANC’s Mangaung conference reaffirmed that the National Democratic Society will have a mixed economy, with state, co-operative and other forms of social ownership and private capital.

In the January 8 statement, we say more decisive steps must and will be taken to promote greater economic inclusion and to advance ownership, control and real leadership of the economy by black people.

The ANC must use the levers of state power to transform the economy and promote job creation.

We must use government incentives, procurement, infrastructure investment and other measures to create new industries and expand existing industries, which would increase the ownership of the economy by the Black majority.

The ANC has to deracialize the economy – and in doing so we must move beyond sloganeering into action.

Our SMME and BBBEE policies should focus more on the development of entrepreneurs who play a meaningful role in the productive sectors of the economy- rather than shareholder transactions. We should also seek to build cooperative institutions and other forms of social ownership.

The lekgotla assisted us in outlining in practical terms what more we need to do to achieve this goal.

To advance transformation we must look at a number of sectors- such as the mining sector where ownership and control still needs to be transformed.

We have been speaking for instance about establishing a state owned mining company; and we should critically look at what is stopping us from achieving this goal.

Land ownership is also one of the key implementable aspects of economic transformation.

In the ANC January 8 statement, we noted that too many people continue to suffer because of the historic injustice of land dispossession. The ANC has affirmed the need to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater speed and urgency.

An area of critical importance remains the building of the capacity of the state and State-Owned Entities (SOE’s) as well as the development finance institutions.

The reform and strengthening of SOEs is critical, as is the need for them to be used as instruments of economic transformation and development.

Another critical issue, forming part of our fight against poverty and inequality, is the question of the National Minimum Wage.

We moved a step forward last year when the task team led by the Deputy President agreed on an amount, namely three thousand five hundred rand. Ongoing discussions should enable finality on the matter.

Government and also the ANC must step up programmes to empower women to play their critical role in the development of our nation and in the economy.

We should also strengthen our programmes for the empowerment of the youth with skills and economic opportunities.

On social transformation, education, healthcare, the fight against social ills including crime and corruption remain key.

On the issue of healthcare, we must be able to report on what we have done practically towards the launch the National Health Insurance Fund. Because it is the envisioned NHI that will take us a step further towards better and more affordable health care for all.

We have to respond meaningfully on the stresses on the social fabric as evidenced by the many social skills such as drug abuse and the brutal abuse of women and children. The ANC and its government must visibly fight these scourges working with the people.

The fight against crime and corruption must be stepped up each year, with visible results.

On Basic Education, progress has been made in the past few years. The sector is attending to matters relating to school retention, to ensure that learners do not drop out. We also need to look into underperforming schools and ensure that there are consequences for principals and management at schools who consistently score zero matric pass rates.

In the Higher Education sector, our position is clear. No child should be denied an education because he or she comes from a poor household. We must continue funding those who are academically deserving but are from poor backgrounds.

Discussions are currently ongoing on the matter, to find solutions. The Heher Commission is also continuing with its work in this regard.

The global political environment is also more challenging as evidenced by shifts towards protectionism and extreme conservatism in developed economies.

The Middle East conflicts remain a challenge for the whole world, especially ongoing events in Palestine and Syria.

As a country and organization, we remain committed to finding peaceful solutions to these challenges.  We condemn those elements bent on violent and undemocratic solutions.

Some political developments on our continent endanger the realization of Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU).

Events in the Gambia are illustrative of the challenges around the constitutional transfer of power that continue to bedevil our continent.

We are confident that the intervention of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS) will resolve the problem and enable the democratically elected President to lead the people of Gambia.

Comrades are aware of the recent escalation of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) owing to challenges around elections.

We also mourn the death of one of our fighters in the peace-making campaign, the young rifleman Moalusi Bushy Mokhothu.

South Africa played a critical role in the birth of South Sudan; regrettably the worsening civil conflict in that sister country prevents it from even starting the project of development; not to speak of the enormous human suffering.

We should as the ANC continue to assist South Sudan to find solutions.

Organizational renewal remains key for the survival and strengthening of the ANC.

The performance of the ANC as a party of government is intricately-linked to the health of the organization as an electoral party and as a national liberation movement.

This matter has exercised our minds as a party for a long time and should continue to do so.

It is a reality that disunity and internal conflicts do spill into the area of governance. But we should should not allow such conflicts to paralyze government. Let us deepen unity, in celebration of the life of Oliver Reginald Tambo.

2017 will be busy year for the ANC. Currently preparations are underway for the ANC’s National Policy Conference due to take place in June. Our deliberations at the lekgotla have laid the ground for a review of the implementation of our policies of the past five years, and assist the formulation of new policies.

The ANC is the leader of society; only the ANC is able to realize the aspirations of the National Democratic Society envisioned by our Constitution. Let us stay the course, demonstrate our capacity to manage internal tensions and conflicts –and retain our focus on our common goal. The lekgotla has seen productive discussions and seen us emerge united, and ready to run the next lap of the race.

CDE. JACOB ZUMA IS PRESIDENT OF THE ANC AND PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA.

 

 

 

FREE STATE MATRIC PASSES THE RESULT OF HARD WORK

ES ‘ACE’ MAGASHULE

The Free State Province can be justifiably proud of the results of the 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. We achieved an average pass rate of 93.2% excluding progressed learners.

When progressed learners are included, the Free State attained a pass rate of 88.5%, which is 15.7 percentage points higher than the national average.

This achievement, coupled with other strides made by the Free State in education, is a product of rigorous work, rather than a miracle.

Guided by the 2009 and 2014 ANC election manifestos, the Free State Provincial Government has made education its number one priority. In order to put into practice this mandate, the provincial government has consistently increased the allocation of human and capital resources on the broad areas of education.

Through its coordinated, holistic and universal service delivery model, Operation Hlasela, the Free State Executive Council has, since 2009, overhauled the entire education system in the province.

This overhaul of the education system has resulted in a continuous improvement of various education indicators. The matric pass rate, as the significant indicator that shows changes in the quality of education, has shown the highest increase.

From 2009 until 2016, the Free State matric pass rate has increased by almost 20 percentage points from 69.4% to the current 88.2%.

In the same period, the Free State has increased the percentage of bachelor and diploma passes from 20.2% in 2009 to 35.8% in 2016, an increase of more than 15 percentage points over the seven-year period. This demonstrates that the province has also realized an improvement in the quality of passes of the period under review.

The general improvement in the quality of education output is not accidental. It is a product of team work. It is an outcome of a conscious effort to use education towards the socio-economic transformation of our society.

After receiving the 2015 matric results, the Executive Council resolved to convene a Free State Provincial Government Education Indaba, with the purpose of developing a plan towards improving education output in 2016 and beyond.

The Education Indaba provided a platform for all crucial stakeholders, including but not limited to, Members of the Executive Council, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Executive Mayors and other leaders of municipalities, Heads of Departments, Municipal Managers, members of School Governing Bodies, leaders of labour unions and other interested parties to deliberate frankly on the state of education in the province.

At the Indaba it was resolved that the retention of the number one position by the Free State in the 2016 matric results was not optional, but compulsory. A clear plan of action was adopted which served as a directive for all sectors of our community towards a better education output. The Indaba also agreed that, for matric results to be improved, the focus should not be on matric alone, but on all grades of schooling, including early childhood development.

Emerging from this Indaba, all participants became education volunteers, all playing their part in the improvement of education output. Below are some of the highlights of the 2016 matric results, which indicate a solid improvement in the quality of passes in particular, and the education system in general;

Quality of passes

 

  • Of all those who wrote matric examinations in the Free State in 2016, 35.8% obtained bachelor passes. This represents an increase of 6 percentage points from 29.8% bachelor passes in 2015;
  • Compared with other provinces, the Free State is on the top spot on crucial subjects of Accounting, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Maths Literacy and Geography. The province has also jumped into second position on its overall performance on Mathematics. This represents a massive jump from fifth position in 2010.

Pro-poor education system

 

  • Thanks to its grossly pro-poor education spending and focus, the Free State has ensured that an ever increasing proportion of distinctions achieved are from township schools;
  • Ngakana Lawrence Salemane of Le Reng Secondary School, a Quintile 2 school based in Ladybrand, Mantsopa, emerged as the best learner in Mathematics (100%) and Physical Sciences (100%);
  • The best Accounting learners in the province, Thabiso Mike Letlala, Ntebaleng Elsie Letaoana and Refiloe Ntsoaki Makhongoana, who all obtained 100% in the subject, are from Kgolathuto Secondary School, a Quintile 3 school in Phuthaditjhaba, Maluti-a-Phofung;
  • An increasing number of township schools are not only improving their pass rates each year, but are also realizing improved quality passes.

From 1955, when the Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter, until today, the ANC’s position on education has not changed. Under President Jacob Zuma, the ANC government, through making education priority number one, continues to demonstrate its belief that education is a potent weapon to transform society and to create a conducive environment for a better life for all.

Cde Ace Magashule is the ANC Provincial Chairperson and Premier of the Free State Province.

 

 

 

At the Indaba it was resolved that the retention of the number one position by the Free State in the 2016 matric results was not optional, but compulsory. A clear plan of action was adopted which served as a directive for all sectors of our community towards a better education output. The Indaba also agreed that, for matric results to be improved, the focus should not be on matric alone, but on all grades of schooling, including early childhood development.

 

Emerging from this Indaba, all participants became education volunteers, all playing their part in the improvement of education output. Below are some of the highlights of the 2016 matric results, which indicate a solid improvement in the quality of passes in particular, and the education system in general;

 

Quality of passes

 

  • Of all those who wrote matric examinations in the Free State in 2016, 35.8% obtained bachelor passes. This represents an increase of 6 percentage points from 29.8% bachelor passes in 2015;
  • Compared with other provinces, the Free State is on the top spot on crucial subjects of Accounting, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences, Maths Literacy and Geography. The province has also jumped into second position on its overall performance on Mathematics. This represents a massive jump from fifth position in 2010.

 

Pro-poor education system

 

  • Thanks to its grossly pro-poor education spending and focus, the Free State has ensured that an ever increasing proportion of distinctions achieved are from township schools;
  • Ngakana Lawrence Salemane of Le Reng Secondary School, a Quintile 2 school based in Ladybrand, Mantsopa, emerged as the best learner in Mathematics (100%) and Physical Sciences (100%);
  • The best Accounting learners in the province, Thabiso Mike Letlala, Ntebaleng Elsie Letaoana and Refiloe Ntsoaki Makhongoana, who all obtained 100% in the subject, are from Kgolathuto Secondary School, a Quintile 3 school in Phuthaditjhaba, Maluti-a-Phofung;
  • An increasing number of township schools are not only improving their pass rates each year, but are also realizing improved quality passes.

 

From 1955, when the Congress of the People adopted the Freedom Charter, until today, the ANC’s position on education has not changed. Under President Jacob Zuma, the ANC government, through making education priority number one, continues to demonstrate its belief that education is a potent weapon to transform society and to create a conducive environment for a better life for all.

 

Cde Ace Magashule is the ANC Provincial Chairperson and Premier of the Free State Province.

 

 “BLACK OPS” SAGA A FAILED ‘EXPOSE’

KHUSELA SANGONI

Reports surrounding the African National Congress’ (ANC) 2016 municipal elections communications campaign is manufactured controversy at best.

Six months since the poll which saw the ANC attain 54% of the national vote (the majority) the never-ending stream of dubious content passing as news shows no signs of slowing down – as its proponents desperately try to drive their narrative of a party in hopeless and irreversible decline.

Just like the notorious ‘sources close to the ANC’ exposes upon which some of our political journalists have built their reputations, this is yet another example of the failure of journalistic rigor and ethics.

What is now being called the “Black Ops” saga is yet another attempt to discredit an organization that has won the popular vote nationally since democracy in 1994.

To paraphrase Warren Johnson’s famous maxim: truth is the first casualty of journalism.

It is an unfortunate indication of the depths to which some have sunk that the amateurish brainstorming of junior PR executives contracted to some company headed by some individual has been elevated to the level of “ANC strategy.”

A strategy, coincidentally, that was clearly spelled out in our 2016 Local Government Elections Manifesto – telling the story of delivery over the past 23 years and placing before the electorate our vision to advance the NDR and transform society.

Furthermore, a request for proposals to run the ANC’s communications campaign was issued to a number of agencies, which further spelled out our communications requirements ahead of the election. The ANC subsequently appointed global agency Ogilvy to run the campaign, working together with organization’s Department of Information and Publicity (DIP).

Regrettably, an employee of the ANC has been implicated and the ANC is conducting an internal investigation into his involvement.  No evidence however has been forthcoming to prove that apparently whiteboard-level brainstorming by a communications agency formed part of any ANC strategy around the 2016 poll, or any other strategy for that matter.

This has not stopped the traditional and social media commentariat from delivering scathing indictments that the ANC was running a ‘black ops’ campaign.

This kind of language conjures up images of high espionage, clandestine activities and plots in dark corners, and torture chambers. It is a desperate headline in pursuit of an even more desperate narrative: luckily the citizenry won’t be duped.

The ANC has no need to resort to desperate and surreptitious tactics or play mind games with the electorate – unlike others, we have a far higher regard for the intelligence of this country’s citizens; and don’t assume their electoral preferences may be swayed by fake posters and favorable tweets.

We can pride ourselves on having run a positive, transparent and clean campaign that did not any point resort to the negative campaigning.

This is the trademark of other opposition parties who tend to locate their entire message in relation to those of the ANC, sometimes even resorting to the desperate measure of appropriating ANC figures like Nelson Mandela to whitewash their own dubious campaign messaging.

In spite of the constant baiting and in some cases outright lies being peddled by some opposition parties, our campaign was run in full compliance with the country’s electoral laws. It has become important to reiterate this in the face of the desperate attempts of the DA to run to the courts: again if there is evidence that the ANC broke any electoral laws, we would welcome seeing it.

Although the overwhelming majority of allegations made in this ‘black ops’ story are problematic, some are more than others.

Not least of all because they betray an astonishingly naïve view of the way in which political campaigns are run in the 21st century.

The very notion of “Paid Twitter” is laughable- if one considers that promoted tweets are an integral tool of modern public relations and have been so since Twitter first launched. Engaging social media ‘influencers’  to drive certain messages is also nothing new. This is a common facet of digital marketing and has been so for over a decade.

There isn’t a modern political party in the world that does not use web content (some of it paid for) and broadcasting platforms to drive political messaging and the ANC is no different. During the election campaign we utilized our own website and social media channels to great effect to engage with voters; this has never been done covertly or in an attempt to psychologically manipulate citizens.

The sub-text of this unfortunate ‘black ops’ fiction is the suggestion that the manner in which supporters of the ANC assist in driving the organization’s message in the media space should somehow be proscribed.

Just as it is the Constitutionally guaranteed right of every South African to support and vote for the political party of their choosing – so is it the prerogative of every individual of this country to show their support for the ANC, and to nail their colors to the mast in the media space.

It would be unfair however to expect the ANC to take responsibility for an ‘strategy’ the ANC never sanctioned at any point.

Luckily the millions of South Africans who continue to vote for the ANC and see it as their only political home won’t buy into the spin. They know our service delivery track record, and they know we and only we continue to espouse the ideals upon which our movement was founded.

The ‘black ops’ story is a convenient fiction. Worryingly, its entire basis is court papers filed by a disgruntled litigant with an agenda. There is no ‘smoking gun’. There is no contract to speak of.

These should all be red flags for journalists. It is questionable whether the alleged court action itself would be able to withstand legal scrutiny.

This attempt at an ‘expose’ is a story cobbled together with emails and WhatsApp messages. It is littered with contradictions, conjecture and hyperbole. It is a storm in a Twitter cup.

CDE. KHUSELA SANGONI IS THE NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER OF THE ANC

 

 

 

 

 

‘SUGAR TAX’ IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE NATION

KAREN HOFMANPROFESSOR KAREN HOFMAN

Twenty years ago, encountering obese children was rare – so was children with diabetes. Only ‘the old people’ got high blood pressure or diabetes (colloquially called ‘Sugar’), cancer was not that common – and we certainly were not a nation of fatties.

Today South Africans are the most obese people on the continent. Diabetes has doubled in 20 years, high blood pressure is very common and almost everyone knows someone with cancer. So common in fact that these diseases together are rivaling HIV.

So what happened? Did we all suddenly lose all self-discipline become a nation of gluttons and couch potatoes who cannot stop eating and never exercise?

No, we didn’t – although Big Food (and the drink companies) would have us to believe that getting fatter and fatter is all our own fault. The biggest thing that has changed over the past twenty years is our diets, and in particular the number of sugary drinks we consume.

Sugary drinks include fizzy and non-fizzy soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy and sports drinks, all sweetened milk and yoghurt drinks and fruit juices (yes, fruit juice).

Between 2001 and 2015, the sales of sugary drinks in South Africa grew by over 65%.

It is noteworthy that most of the spend by industry is not on the actual products being produced – but on relentless and aggressive marketing spend, to influence and shape our consumption habits.

Big Food (and the beverage companies) are deliberately targeting the lower living standards measurement (LSM) market, particularly in developing countries such as ours.

In other words, they are deliberately focusing their attentions on hooking the poor, to get them to consume more and more fizzy, sugary drinks with absolutely no nutritional value.

This should be of great concern to everyone, but in particular to lawmakers in this country who are responsible for ensuring that our health budget is spent efficiently and optimally.

At the same time that our sugary drink consumption has exploded, so have our waistlines. Between 1998 and 2012, obesity grew from 30% to almost 40% in women, and from 7.5% to 10.6% in men.

Obesity-related diseases such as diabetes are putting an immense strain on the public health system, a system that is already struggling to deal with the huge burden of HIV and tuberculosis.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that sugary drinks are one of the most significant contributors to health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, liver and kidney diseases, certain cancers and tooth decay –all of which are entirely preventable.

Sugary drinks are also linked with under-nutrition. Often babies are given sugary drinks to wean them off breast milk, but these drinks have no nutritional value so these babies become under-nourished and some are even stunted. Stunted babies have a much greater risk of becoming obese and diabetic.

To put matters into perspective, we should consider that a loaf of bread and a two-litre fizzy drink is one of the commonest lunches in the country, despite the fact that although sugary drinks have so much sugar, they don’t make us feel full – so we do not eat less and our total energy intake increases.

There are so many sugary drinks being sold that the volume is equal to every one of us drinking more than a cup (260ml) of sugary drinks per day. This doesn’t count the extra sugar we might add to our tea or coffee, nor does it include the many teaspoons of “hidden” sugar in a lot of processed food, much of it marketed as “low fat”.

Most people are unaware that a standard 330ml can of fizzy drink contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar; important if one considers that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people have no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day.

What we eat and drink has much more influence on our weight than a lack of exercise. Yet between 2010 and 2015 the beverage giant Coca Cola spent $120-million on research aimed at undermining the link between sugary drinks and poor health.

The same company helped to set up organizations such as the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) that shifted the blame for obesity away from diet – to a lack of exercise.

Not all calories are the same though. Sugar in a liquid form is particularly bad as it exhausts the supply of insulin much faster than when the sugar is consumed as a solid.

This allowed the development of diabetes at much younger age. Many women over 50 consider their diabetes to be “normal”.

Successive resolutions of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC) have promoted the need for the ANC and government to ‘embark on activities to promote healthy lifestyles through mobilization of individuals and communities to engage in physical activities, good dietary practices and reduction of harmful use of alcohol, tobacco and to control substance abuse.”

The 2012 National Policy Conference of the ANC for instance resolved “to accelerate regulations on diet and content of salt in foodstuffs,” amongst other things.

In a far-reaching and progressive move that should be lauded, Treasury has proposed a new tax on sugary beverages, at a tax level of 0.0229 Rand per gram of sugar – or 20%.

This 20% tax on sugary drinks could reduce obesity prevalence by 3.8% among men and 2.4% among women, according our economic modelling.

This means that a quarter of a million South Africans could be prevented from suffering from obesity-related sicknesses.

The proposed tax would also raise around R6.4 billion a year, and Treasury has promised that it will use much of this revenue to fund health initiatives.

A tax on sugary drinks will be to save many more lives among the poor, as was the case with the tobacco tax.

It is a reality that the most vulnerable in our society are more responsive to price increases and it is also they who generally suffer far more from obesity-related health problems than wealthier people, who can afford healthier food and better healthcare.

But a but a higher level of 0.0344 Rand per gram – 30% – would be even better to reversing the rising rates of obesity. It is a more realistic figure to reach the goals we have set ourselves in the National Development Plan (NDP) as well as the global Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG’s) adopted by the United Nations in December 2015.

Predictably there has been stiff opposition from Big Food and the beverage industry, which has been
employing scare tactics in an attempt to rattle government away from implementing the tax.

Their tactics are similar to those used by the tobacco industry, which in previous decades also paid scientists to underplay the dangers of smoking.

The Beverage Association of South Africa (BevSA), which represents Coca Cola and other sugary drink companies, has hired two companies to look at the economic impact of the sugary drinks tax.

The company is claiming that around 60 000 jobs will be lost as a result of the proposed tax.

It should be considered that currently the beverage industry only employs around 14 500 people.

Both Treasury and independent economists, including Dr Neva Makgetla, from the Trade and Industry Policy Strategies, an independent group), say that the job loss figure is hugely exaggerated.

When Mexico, and Berkeley, California in the USA, introduced taxes on sugary drinks, there were no job losses. In addition, the sales of healthier alternatives increased.

Globally, taxes have clearly worked. Mexico had the world’s highest intake of sugary drinks. After a year, sugary drink purchases amongst the poorest third of the Mexican population were reduced by around 15% and consumers started replacing sugary drinks with healthier beverages like water.

Clearly the sugary drinks tax is only the first step in our journey to manage the obesity crisis.

It needs to be followed by many other interventions, including a public education campaign about healthy diet, and supported by mandatory regulations to prohibit marketing to our children, as well as clear information on all products – so people know how much sugar they are drinking if they choose to do so.

What is clear is that we cannot afford to wait any more.

South Africa is becoming more obese by the day. In the 5 years since we did our research another quarter of a million people became obese.

This sugary beverage tax will save lives.

Critically, it will cut healthcare costs in both the public and private sector.

As we head towards National Health Insurance (NHI), the cost savings in healthcare will be key – and revenue from the tax can be used to fund healthy initiatives.

This is a historic decision that we should all support.

PROFESSOR KAREN HOFMAN IS THE DIRECTOR OF PRICELESS SA (PRIORITY COST EFFECTIVE LESSONS FOR SYSTEMS STRENGTHENING) BASED AT THE WITS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH. 

PRICELESS is research programme providing information on “Best Buys” for health in SA.  Analyses show how scarce resources, can be used effectively, efficiently and equitably to achieve better health  outcomes.

A medical graduate of the University of the Witwatersrand and trained as paediatrician, Karen served as Director of Policy and Planning at the US NIH, Fogarty International Center and was on faculty at Johns Hopkins. She has consulted for WHO /PAHO and is published widely in international journals.

 

BUILDING PARTY UNITY A FITTING TRIBUTE TO OR TAMBO LEGACY

CDE. CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

 This month we mark the 105th birthday of the oldest liberation movement on this continent, the African National Congress.

 This tremendous achievement is the result of the dedication, sacrifice and hard work of millions of people – in South Africa and across the world – who acted in unity to ensure that we can live in a free South Africa.

 As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of our movement, we gather also to pay tribute to a hero of our people and a true son of this soil.

 Oliver Reginald Tambo, the longest-serving President of our movement, would have been 100 years old this year.

The National Executive Committee of the ANC has therefore decided to dedicate this year – his centenary – to him.

 This is the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo.

 This is the year in which we celebrate his extraordinary life and supreme contribution to our freedom.

 This is the year in which we honour his memory by pledging to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, to achieve his vision of a free, democratic and united society.

 This is the year in which we affirm the statement by former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela when he declared:

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died, because the ideals for which he sacrificed his life can never die…

 “I say that Oliver Tambo has not died because the ideals of freedom, human dignity and a colour-blind respect for every individual cannot perish.

 “While the ANC lives, Oliver Tambo cannot die!”

 Today we say that for as long as we keep alive the ideals for which Oliver Tambo lived and sacrificed, the ANC will not die.

 For Oliver Tambo, this son of Mbizana, the unity of our people and the integrity of our liberation movement was paramount.

 When the ANC sent him to establish the ANC in exile, he understood that he had been entrusted the task of ensuring that the movement survives the brutal onslaught unleashed by the apartheid regime on our people and on the members, leaders and structures of our movement.

 But more than that, he had been entrusted with the task of rebuilding a powerful instrument of national liberation.

 He understood that no matter the difficulties of the moment, he was to be the glue that would bind our glorious movement together.

 Addressing the people on 68th anniversary of the ANC in 1980, he spoke words that are just as true over 30 years later.

 He said:

 “The need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 “Our unity has to be based on honesty among ourselves, the courage to face reality, adherence to what has been agreed upon, to principle.”

 Now, in 2017, in the circumstances of the present, we are bound to acknowledge that the need for the unity of the patriotic and democratic forces of our country has never been greater than it is today.

 For although we have made great progress since 1994 in improving the lives of our people, we have not yet overcome poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, illiteracy and inequality.

 We have improved the lives of millions of our people.

 But we have not yet achieved the objective of a better life for all.

 This January 8th, we are saying that we will not be able to build a better life for our people without a strong, united and capable ANC.

 This January 8th, we must have the courage to face the reality that our movement is currently under severe strain.

 We must be honest enough to recognise that disunity, mistrust, ideological incoherence and organisational weakness is undermining our ability to address the challenges that confront our people.

 Building the unity of the ANC and the Alliance is therefore the most important and urgent task of the moment.

 In the January 8th Statement, which the President presented to the nation last week, the ANC National Executive Committee notes that the organisation is confronted by divisive practices.

 At all levels of the organisation, in our leagues and even among some components of the Alliance, leadership contests are accompanied by practices such gatekeeping, vote buying, electoral fraud and even violence.

 We must face the reality that much of the factionalism in our movement is rooted in a competition for access to resources.

 We must acknowledge here that there are instances where internal ANC processes have been infiltrated by individuals and companies seeking preferential access to state business.

 Often, people are recruited to the ANC not to build the organisation, but to provide votes to one or another faction.

 Like Oliver Tambo did, the leaders of our movement must be disciplined and act at all times to promote unity.

 Many of the divisions that currently exist in our movement are divisions among leaders, not divisions among members.

 These are divisions not based on ideological or political differences.

 They are not based on disagreements over strategy or policy.

 These are divisions that are fuelled by a relentless competition for positions, influence and control over resources.

 This is the reality that we are determined to change.

 We are dedicating this year, 2017, to correcting the many mistakes that we have made, to ending the deviant practices that are slowly destroying our organisation.

 We need to make the act of joining the ANC a more meaningful and valued process.

 Members of the ANC must feel on their shoulders the burden of responsibility.

 Like Oliver Tambo, they must understand that they have been entrusted with the future of the movement and with the successful prosecution of the struggle of our people.

 Each one of us must understand ourselves to be the glue that holds this organisation together.

 The January 8th Statement provides us with a plan of action to unite and rebuild the movement.

 We need to insulate state procurement processes from political interference.

 We need to strengthen internal processes for managing potential conflicts of interest and alleged criminal conduct and ethical breaches.

 At the same time, we need to embrace the concept of revolutionary discipline as understood and practiced by Oliver Tambo.

 He did not understood discipline as primarily a matter of rules, regulations and sanction.

 For him, discipline was the product of a deliberate political decision by an individual to dedicate their capabilities, resources and energy to the achievement of the aims of the movement.

 For him, discipline was a consequence of the decision of an individual to join the African National Congress.

 Discipline does not earn praise. It does not bring personal reward.

 It is about working hard and placing the interests of the people above one’s own interests.

 It is about fighting factionalism, resisting corruption, safeguarding public resources.

 This is the year in which we must make decisive progress in the growth and transformation of our economy.

 We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless we grow the economy.

 That is why we are intensifying our industrial incentive programmes, establishing special economic zones and investing in infrastructure.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, these measures are contributing to the sustainability and expansion of the auto industry.

 They are resulting in significant new investments in the Coega Industrial Development Zone.

 In the next few years, significant investment in the region’s transport and water infrastructure will bring extensive economic benefits.

We know that we will not create the jobs our people seek unless weimprove the skills and capabilities of our youth.

 We wish to congratulate the Eastern Cape’s 2016 matriculants for having recorded a 2.5% improvement in the overall pass rate.

 While there has been progress, we must acknowledge that we are still falling far short of the province’s potential.

 We welcome the efforts of the Eastern Cape provincial government to prioritise assistance to struggling schools, improving school management, developing and maintaining school infrastructure, and addressing the shortage of teachers.

 In 2017, we need to dedicate resources and energy to the most challenged schools to ensure all learners in the province receive the quality education they deserve.

 This province is home to prestigious educational institutions like Lovedale College and the University of Fort Hare, institutions that played a leading role in shaping generations of African leaders.

 Today, the various higher education institutions in the province – including this one – are shaping a new generation of African leaders, academics, artisans and professionals.

 They are following in the footsteps of Oliver Tambo, a dedicated teacher and a lifelong champion of the value of education.

 In honouring his memory, we will work this year to expand access to quality higher education to more South Africans from poor communities.

 Through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, government will be funding more than 400,000 students at universities and TVET colleges this year.

 We will continue to engage with institutions, students and other stakeholders on how to address the funding challenges in higher education in a sustainable manner.

The January 8th Statement says that it is time to return the land to our people.

 Our land reform and land redistribution programmes have shown measurable success.

 However, too many of our people continue to suffer from the historic injustice of land dispossession.

This year, we will use the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater speed and urgency.

 We call on communities and traditional leaders to work together with government to speedily resolve land claims.

 We need to work together to ensure that land is ultimately used for the benefit of communities and to build local economies.

 This year, we will continue to work together to promote local economic development, particularly in centres like Mthatha where there is great potential for localisation and empowerment.

 We will continue to create opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme, with an emphasis on work experience and skills for women and young people.

 We will not be able to build a better life for our people unless we can mobilise society as a whole to tackle the challenges we face.

 Oliver Tambo was excellent at building alliances.

 It was thanks to his alliance-building efforts that the anti-apartheid movement led one of the largest and most effective global campaigns of the 20th century.

 Like him, we must work to mobilise different groupings around commonprogrammes for change and development.

 We must build alliances with formations across the length and breadth of South Africa in pursuit of our goal of radical economic transformation.

 We must build alliances within communities to advance development.

 We must build alliances with fraternal parties and social formations across Africa to pursue the growth and development of our continent.

 We must build alliances with other countries, with political parties, with international organisations and leading global figures in our effort to build a better, more just and more equitable world.

 In 2017, we must deepen our efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society.

 Throughout his life, Oliver Tambo fought to tear down the barriers of prejudice, ignorance and injustice.

 He was unreservedly committed to the emancipation of women.

 He challenged patriarchy in all its forms, both within society and within the liberation movement.

 He understood that the achievement of gender equality was a responsibility of both men and women.

 Tambo was determined that the ANC should be a truly non-racial organisation.

 He sought to create a country where there will be neither whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity.

 We must dedicate ourselves to tackling discrimination and oppression in whatever form it takes, whether in the home, in the workplace, in the institutions of state, or on social media.

 We need to ensure that we respect, uphold and restore the dignity of all our people.

 Let me conclude with the words that Madiba spoke as he said farewell to his life-long comrade, Oliver Tambo.

He said:

 “Go well, my brother and farewell, dear friend.

 As you instructed, we will bring peace to our tormented land.

 As you directed, we will bring freedom to the oppressed and liberation to the oppressor.

 As you strived, we will restore the dignity of the dehumanised.

 As you commanded, we will defend the option of a peaceful resolution of our problems.

 As you prayed, we will respond to the cries of the wretched of the earth.

 As you loved them, we will, always, stretch out a hand of endearment to those who are your flesh and blood.

 In all this, we will not fail you.”

 As we begin 2017, let us declare here that we will not fail OR Tambo.

 Let us declare that we will strive to build the free, just and prosperous society of which he dreamed.

 Let us declare that we will unite, restore and renew the glorious movement to which he dedicated his life.

 Let us work to ensure that ANC lives and the ANC leads.

Cde. Cyril Ramaphosa is ANC Deputy President.

-This is taken from an address given at the Eastern Cape ANC 105th anniversary celebrations in Mthatha

 

ANC UNITY THE CORNERSTONE OF SA’S DEVELOPMENT

CDE. JESSIE DUARTE

Speaking at the opening of the first conference of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa in 1963, the legendary Ghanaian statesman Kwame Nkrumah reminded representatives of the African postcolonial movements that attaining freedom was only the first step towards liberation.

Nkrumah noted:

“The struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

In the year that Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC) marks 105 years since its founding in Mangaung – his words ring true today as they did back then.

As the development of the country has not followed a straight, linear trajectory but has experienced peaks as well as troughs, so too has the ANC

The task before us as we enter another year as the leader of society is to reclaim lost ground following a number of challenges and setbacks – and in this regard, party unity will be paramount.

It is for this reason the ANC has chosen Unity in Action as one of the key themes of the party’s 105th birthday celebrations. The reality is that a weak, divided ANC is bad for the country, and a strong, united ANC bodes well for the future of South Africa.

Ever since the delivery of the very first January 8th statement was delivered by ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo in 1972, the ANC has used the occasion to highlight progress in the quest for political, social and economic emancipation of our people. Furthermore, it is an opportunity to outline the ANC’s priorities for the year ahead.

This year’s celebrations are taking place following the 2016 municipal elections wherein the ANC won the majority of the vote nationally but experienced a number of electoral setbacks in certain key areas.

As an organization attuned to the concerns of the country’s citizens, we are acutely aware that dissatisfaction with the progress in the fight against crime, corruption and the creation of jobs undoubtedly played a role in the electoral outcome. We also did ourselves no favours when internal party battles played out in the public space on the eve of the polls. This dented citizens’ confidence in the ANC and it is imperative that we reclaim lost ground as a matter of urgency.

We are alive to the challenges we face, and do not make light of them. However, these need to be contextualized within a socio-political context where the governing party still faces an enormous uphill battle of undoing the legacy of centuries of dispossession and discrimination that relegated the majority of our people to the periphery of the country’s development.

As we mark the founding of the ANC, we have made a call for the rejuvenation of our movement and a return to the core values upon which the party was founded. It is only through returning to these founding values that we will be able to realize the aspirations of our people towards a South Africa that is united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous.

As Nkrumah noted however, ‘no sporadic act nor pious resolution can solve our present problems’, and we need to be ever vigilant that the pitfalls we are facing as a movement do not sink us, or cause us to fall prey to the malaise of political complacency.

To advance our programme of societal transformation we have to listen to the voices of the people, and act to resolve their concerns.

Only a united party can achieve this.

In this year ahead, the ANC commits itself to rebuilding the trust of the electorate, and re-asserting our place as the leader of all progressive forces who yearn for radical socio-economic change.

Saluting delegates to the Fourth Congress of Frelimo in Maputo in 1985, then ANC President OR Tambo said:

“You have had your difficulties, but also your triumphs in tackling the twin scourges of our continent, namely underdevelopment and neocolonialism.”

“You have embarked upon building a single nation, with a strong common patriotism and a vigorous cultural personality, out of a population formerly divided by racism, regionalism and tribalism. You have built up your Party and created new organs of People’s Power..”

The ANC too has had its difficulties, but let us not underestimate or neglect our triumphs.

The ANC, the party of Tambo, of Mandela, of Mbeki, of Sisulu, and of Zuma has also succeeded in building a single nation out of a divided population.

As we mark 105 years since the ANC’s founding, it is necessary to reflect on our challenges, yes, but at the same time let us never lose sight of just how far we have come.

Cde. Jessie Duarte is ANC Deputy Secretary-General.

FORWARD WITH UNITY IN ACTION!

CDE. WELILE NHLAPO

As we celebrate the 105th anniversary of the African National Congress, the National Executive Committee, correctly declared 2017 as the year of Unity in Action.

During this year we will also celebrate the centenary of the birth of our revered leader, Oliver Reginald Tambo. He was the glue that kept the ANC as a united disciplined revolutionary movement under the most challenging times in the history of our struggle.

It is indeed in true African tradition and practice that in difficult times we summon the spirits of our ancestors to help us navigate through what might seem to be insurmountable problems haunting us as the living. In doing this we seek to emulate the best qualities bequeathed to us by those who led us through stormy weathers in their lifetime.

The combination of the clarion call for the 105th celebration of the birth of our movement and the centenary of the birth of Comrade OR affords us the opportunity for deep reflection and introspection.

We can’t escape posing the question as to whether we are still on cause in our stewardship of the National Democratic Revolution. We also have to honestly and frankly answer painful questions related to whether we still have the mantle to deliver on the aspirations and expectations of the embattled masses of our people?

We somehow in the decisions taken in the last NEC meeting mapped out activities which will help us begin to answer the question; what is to be done to act in unity to restore the glory of the ANC that OR handed over to us intact and pleaded with us to look after it.

The NEC correctly decided that we should organize an MKVA conference which should result in uniting ex MK combatants primarily to take care of the challenges they face and to contribute towards efforts to unite our movement.

The revitalization and strengthening of Veterans League as the reservoir of political and organizational experience to embolden our long stated goal of organizational renewal is welcomed.

The league can also contribute immensely towards political education of our membership on the history, traditions and values that made the ANC survive this long. The convening of a conference of the Veterans League is an important, strategic and timely development.

When the movement under the leadership of Comrade OR averted crises and consolidated efforts to intensify the struggle, we convened in Morogoro and Kabwe, closed ranks and charted the path that led to the freedom of our people.

Let the envisaged National Consultative Conference help us deal with organizational matters that will help us consolidate our unity of purpose as the entire revolutionary alliance led by the ANC.

History beacons on us to march in unison as a united political army to deliver on a policy conference that guarantees certainty on the future of our country. We have the tools and previous decisions and resolutions of policy conferences, NGCs and elective conferences to guide us to a successful elective conference in December.

Let us take leaf from the volumes of lessons from the life of this unifier, thinker, strategist, his exemplary revolutionary morality, personal conduct, diplomat, pan Africanist, internationalist and above all an inspirational fighter for freedom which every cadre of our movement must aspire to be.

Long live the undying spirit of Comrade President Oliver Tambo!!! Long live the revolutionary alliance led by the ANC!!!

Happy 105th anniversary of ANC!!!

FORWARD WITH THE YEAR OF UNITY IN ACTION!!!

Cde. Welile Nhlapo was formerly South Africa’s ambassador to the US. A career diplomat, he was the ANC’s Chief Representative in Botswana and Head of the Political Section in the ANC Secretary-General’s office.