Zuma’s wish – a better year for all of us

2013-01-13 10:00

2013 will be a year for South Africans to be healthy, wealthy and wise.

This was the promise President Jacob Zuma made yesterday at the ANC’s annual January 8 birthday bash.

The Kings Park Stadium was overflowing with ANC supporters who wanted an early taste of the governing party’s priorities for government this year.

Zuma emphasised that land redistribution will be the focus while the National Health Insurance scheme will also gain ground.

South Africans should expect more money in their pockets through job creation and economic transformation.

Zuma also promised to be tough on workers who opt for unprotected strikes instead of playing within the rules. Carien du Plessis and Sabelo Ndlangisa analyse the main themes of Zuma’s speech

ANC unity and discipline

No January 8 statement would be complete without the ANC looking inward, with calls to strengthen itself.

“The ANC must continue to vigorously adhere to the principles of unity, selfless service, collective leadership, democratic centralism, internal debates, humility, honesty, hard work, constructive criticism and self-criticism, discipline and mutual respect,” President Jacob Zuma warned.

He repeated the resolutions from the party’s Mangaung conference last year, saying the party should “eradicate the alien tendencies” of factionalism, violence, the use of money to buy members, gatekeeping and the manipulation of ANC processes.

The party’s national executive committee is to develop a code of conduct booklet that will be circulated to branches, and will establish an integrity committee to promote ethics in the movement.

“We call on all ANC members to subject themselves to the discipline of the ANC.

“The ANC is the leader of society and our behaviour must always be beyond reproach.”

The ANC will continue working tirelessly to achieve a truly nonracial, nonsexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

“The ANC is the only organisation capable of uniting the people of South Africa around a common vision,” it said.

National Development Plan

The National Development Plan (NDP), which is to take South Africa to the ideal society in 2030, was mentioned very early in Zuma’s January 8 statement.

The plan will help South Africa achieve its goals of transforming, growing and developing the economy to set right inequalities.

It opts for a mixed economy in South Africa “where public, private, cooperatives and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way” but with the state playing an active role.

More women, and especially black women, will get space to take part in the economy.

Programmes envisaged in the NDP, like the New Growth Path and an infrastructure development plan for the building of dams, roads, bridges, power stations, schools, hospitals and two new universities are already underway.

New infrastructure would help supply water and sanitation to households still without it.

Mud schools should also be eradicated and schools and health facilities refurbished.

The NDP featured prominently during the ANC’s policy discussions at its conference in Mangaung last year.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who took centre stage in writing the NDP, will play an important role in making the NDP popular now that he is ANC deputy president.

Health, crime and education

These three sectors form part of the ANC’s five priorities in its 2009 elections manifesto.

The January 8 statement declared: “The ANC shall lead by example by being the champion of education and skills development in this phase of the revolution.”

Zuma said every ANC branch and member should play a role in improving literacy, education and skills in their neighbourhoods and get involved in programmes to improve the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

He repeated the call for teachers to be in school, on time, and for students to take their learning seriously.

The introduction of National Health Insurance (NHI) is still on track and the fund to be introduced next year will bring the system closer, he said.

“We call on all South Africans to embrace the NHI, as it will take us a step further towards better and more affordable healthcare for all.”

In its statement, the ANC called on government to improve the management of hospitals.

Zuma congratulated South Africans for bringing down the rate of new HIV infections.

The ANC will continue its fight against crime and corruption, which is “the enemy of development”.

Land reform

Land reform will become the focal point for the ANC this year.

Events around the 100th anniversary of the infamous 1913 Land Act will be used to drive this campaign.

The ANC acknowledges that it will fall short of reaching its target of transferring 30% of 82 million hectares of arable land to black hands by 2014.

Zuma told ANC supporters yesterday that the party had ordered government to speed up measures to redistribute land.

But in an attempt to soothe the fears of land owners, he gave the assurance that it will take into account the Constitutional provisions on land expropriation.

This suggests that the state will not succumb to calls for land expropriation without compensation, and that it will also jettison the “willing buyer, willing seller approach” to land reform.

Zuma said the amendments to the law that will extend the 1913 cut-off date for land claims to accommodate Khoisan communities – who lost land before 1913 – will take effect this year.

He also pledged special programmes, which he did not spell out, to remember the injustices brought on by the 1913 law.

Labour and bargaining

Last year’s industrial strife on the mines was a hard blow for the ANC’s ally, Cosatu.

The Marikana massacre and its aftermath led to a dip in business confidence and caused the governing party to do some soul-searching.

The labour unrest has recently also spilled over onto farms.

In its January 8 statement the ANC called for an end to the industrial strife that has hit the country over the past few months.

Zuma called on both workers and employers to act within the law when conducting their labour relations.

“We call on workers not to undermine the right to strike or to protest by engaging in violent action which undermines their cause.

“We call on employers to enable workers to exercise their labour rights freely, while exercising their own rights, which are also enshrined in the Constitution,” he said.

He also called for unity in the fight against youth joblessness, saying the public and private sectors and unions should unite to address the issues through “holistic interventions” that did not hurt existing jobs or workers’ rights.

Although Zuma didn’t

say so explicitly, this suggests that measures such as the youth wage subsidy has the ANC’s support and would be on government’s agenda this year.

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