20 December 2002
We, the delegates of this 51st National Conference of the African National Congress, are the living bearers of an unbroken legacy of ninety years of South African struggle. Forged in townships and remote rural villages, in once segregated places of learning and worship, in factories and mine compounds, in prison and in exile, the underlying principles, the traditions, the songs, the slogans, the organisational wisdom of these ninety years, have resonated through the venues and deliberations of our Conference this week. We enter the tenth decade of the ANC`s existence at the head of a profound process of social transformation for a better life for all.
Our Conference expresses its appreciation for the hospitality shown by the university and people of Stellenbosch. Our experience here confirms our conviction that, united in our diversity, we can, as compatriots and partners construct a better tomorrow for all.
From thousands of branches across the length and breadth of our country we have converged as proud representatives of the ANC women and men, young and old, rural and urban, black and white. The run-up to this Conference involved the establishment of ward-based branches, thorough audits of membership, and active participation by members of the ANC, its allies and broader society in formulating the agenda of Conference. These preparations were, in themselves, also a process of building the ANC, affirming the central role of branches and the right of ANC members to determine policies. In all of these respects the 51st National Conference was indeed within the traditions of a Congress of the People.
This 51st National Conference has affirmed that ANC policy should be dynamic and subject to ongoing assessment, with the objective of advancing the people`s cause, consistent with the strategic objectives that the movement has set itself over the decades. We have adopted resolutions dealing with all areas of transformation and with building the ANC, in keeping with the Strategy and Tactics of the movement. Our Conference has confirmed the thrust of current policies. What is critically important is more effective and more determined implementation of these policies.
As a disciplined force of the left, the ANC`s policies are rooted in the needs and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of South Africans, many of whom are poor. Their interests are at the heart of the ANC`s agenda.
To this end Conference reaffirmed the perspective that the central challenge remains the eradication of poverty and inequality through economic growth and development, job creation and social equity. The legacy of the past still imposes a heavy burden on South African society, especially on the poor, on women, youth, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
We are also confronted with many new challenges, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic. More than ever, the ANC must intensify the mobilisation of the whole of South African society behind a programme of fundamental change.
Consistent with our strategic goals, this 51st National Conference has reaffirmed the ANC`s position on the necessity of the revolutionary alliance with the SACP, the party of the working class, and with COSATU, the progressive trade union movement, as well as the civic movement, SANCO. Particular attention was paid to developing appropriate mechanisms to ensure that we strengthen the alliance and work tirelessly to deal, in a constructive and comradely manner, with any problems that may arise from time to time. We are intensely aware that alliance partners can learn from each other. Each has a unique contribution to make in the unfolding revolutionary process in our country.
For the ANC to live and lead, it must also strengthen its links and collaboration with mass democratic organisations and ensure that we build a broad front for faster change.
Conference noted progress made on all fronts of transformation, including the restructuring and modernisation of our economy. South Africa`s macro-economic position has enabled our democratic government to direct more resources towards social spending and investment expenditure, including in infrastructure development. Conference also acknowledged the persisting challenges of unemployment and inequality. In the past few years, decisive progress has been made in managing and reducing the incidence of crime, ensuring improved safety and security for all, including women and children. The Freedom Charter and RDP together provide the vision and framework within which our ongoing social and economic transformation should take place.
To meet these objectives, the ANC will continue with its efforts to transform the state. This means, among other challenges, that we should ensure that all spheres of government should have effective capacity. Conference has therefore resolved to strengthen mechanisms of accountability on the part of all cadres working within various sectors. The ANC will also intensify its programme to root out corruption in all spheres of society, including within government and within the ANC itself.
Recognising that these efforts cannot bear fruit if carried out by government and the ANC alone, Conference reiterated the position of the ANC to build strong links with community organisations, trade unions, religious bodies, business organisations, women and youth structures as well as other organisations to ensure that, in actual practice, South Africans act as their own liberators.
The challenges that we face in building a new society include the fostering of moral values, creating conditions for the flourishing of cultural expression, and the restructuring of academic and civic education in line with the principles of a caring society. To ensure progress in this regard, the ANC and its allies need, on a consistent basis, to challenge ideological outlooks and practices that can undermine our commitment to an ongoing national democratic revolution. Among some of the tendencies that can deflect us from our collective endeavour are neo-liberalism and ultra-leftism.
This contest of ideas should be conducted in a manner that ensures that, in line with our traditions, new and creative ideas find free rein within our ranks, without undermining our basic organisational discipline.
Conference noted vain attempts by a small group of fanatics to unleash counter-revolutionary violence against the people of our country. The ANC wishes to make it clear that it will mobilise all the power at the disposal of the South African people to defend our freedom, our dignity and our unity as a nation. The message of the ANC is simple and unequivocal, and it is one that is shared by the overwhelming majority of South Africans black and white: There is no going back!
Conference welcomed the formation of the African Union and its adoption of the New Partnership for Africa`s Development (NEPAD). The ANC will continue to play its role in contributing to the renewal of our continent and the improvement of the quality of life of Africa`s peoples. We will work for the implementation of all decisions of the AU, and of all elements of NEPAD. In this regard, our contact and collaboration with fraternal parties across the continent will be strengthened.
Conference was honoured by the presence and messages of support from fraternal parties and organisations across the globe. All delegates were deeply moved by the commitment made to us by various formations that had just participated in the signing of the agreement to advance to peace, democracy and development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We wish to assure the sons and daughters of Lumumba that the ANC will do all it can to ensure that peace once more reigns in the DRC. Coming in a period of progress towards peace in Angola, this development contains the potential to usher in a new era in the whole of southern Africa. We shall continue to lend support to the sister peoples of Burundi, Ivory Coast and others in their efforts to end conflicts.
We remain firm in our principled support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and statehood, as well as the right of the Israeli state to exist within secure borders. Conference further reiterated its support for the efforts of the United Nations to seek a rational and collective approach to the issue of Iraq.
We reiterate these positions firm in our belief that war mongering and militarism, terrorism and adventurism pose serious dangers to the peoples of the world, and most especially to the poor.
What the peoples of the world urgently need today is cooperation among governments, parties and NGOs to deal with the issues of poverty, the debt burden and the comprehensive overcoming of under-development.
The successful conclusion of the 51st National Conference of the movement comes a little more than a year before the end of the First Decade of Freedom. The ANC will approach the forthcoming period as a strong, vibrant and united organisation, mobilising our people to celebrate our hard-won victories, to draw critical lessons for the future, and to set out firm pointers for the progress that we need to make in the Second Decade. We shall approach the elections in 2004 in the context of uninterrupted struggle for the consolidation of the democratic order and further practical realisation of the ideal of a better life for all. This requires that the ANC strengthens its role as the leading political force in the process of fundamental change.
The ANC will advance in unity to the Year 2012 as our people and all patriots celebrate the Centenary of their movement, the African National Congress. We pledge to serve the people of South Africa for peace, democracy, a shared sense of nationhood, and shared prosperity.
This 51st National Conference rises with an ANC that is united and more determined than ever to strengthen its role as the voice of the people of South Africa, an expression of the aspirations of all, and particularly of the poor.
The army of reconstruction and development is unstoppable. Victory is certain.
Phambili MaVolontiya!! Afrika Ke Nako!!