“The trust that our people have invested in us should never be taken for granted. Such trust, once lost, is not easily regained and as such, the ANC has to fulfil its role and discharge its responsibility through renewing and rebuilding itself as a movement and ensure that it remains true to its founding values.”
These were the strikingly familiar promises again made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday evening as he delivered the annual January 8 statement in commemoration of the ANC’s 109th birthday celebrations.
Ramaphosa said: “While important progress has been made in the renewal and rebuilding of the ANC since the 54th national conference, there is still much to be done”. He added that part of the biggest challenge facing the party was that it was gradually been “weakened by corruption, resistance to renewal and controversies involving ANC leaders”.
Not mincing his words, Ramaphosa said there was a danger that internal conflicts could consume the organisation, “and detract from the very real work we need to do to unite and transform our society”.
He credited the challenges facing the party as having led to the “widening of the distance between the ANC and the people”, adding that unless they were resolved, “they would have the effect of rendering our society rudderless at a time when firm and principled leadership is required”.
Ramaphosa urged his compatriots in the governing party to return to the founding values of the party that included integrity, honesty, tolerance, respect and service.
In light of the aforementioned scenarios crippling the ANC, Ramaphosa said the party had set its sights on achieving four main goals in 2021.
He said the ANC wanted to act together with all South Africans to defeat the Covid-19 coronavirus, particularly given that the country was in the midst of fighting a second wave of infections that is spreading faster and has the potential to cause greater loss of life than the first.
The president said this quest to defeat the pandemic “required effective implementation of prevention measures and a rapid and efficient programme to provide a vaccine to all our people”.
Secondly, Ramaphosa vowed “to place the economy on a path of renewal and recovery through overcoming the apartheid and colonial legacy of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
According to Ramaphosa the path of rebuilding the economy that has been ravaged by the hard lockdown measures was through focusing on aggressively implementing the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
“At the heart of the plan is mobilising investment, creating new jobs and supporting existing ones and accelerating industrialisation. We are undertaking large-scale public investment in key sectors such as energy, water and sanitation, roads and bridges, human settlements, health and education, digital infrastructure and public transport. In these and other infrastructure programmes, we are also pursuing public-private partnerships,” he said.
Ramaphosa added that there was also a need for the accelerated land redistribution and rural development program as this “remains a historical and economic imperative”.
He said he hoped that during the course of this year, Parliament would approve an amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution, a move that would “give effect to an important resolution of our 54th national conference and will contribute to the acceleration of land reform”.
Ramaphosa also pledged to forge ahead with the fundamental renewal of the ANC saying it was only “an ANC with ethical, selfless and disciplined members that can lead the national effort to reduce Covid-19 infections and drive radical social and economic transformation.”
He said the ANC’s national executive committee which met on Wednesday leading up to his Friday address had resolved to strengthen the ANC’s integrity commission so as to “enable it to act decisively, without fear or favour, to deal with corruption and wrongdoing in our ranks”.
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The president reiterated as resolved by the party’s 54th conference, that every member accused of, or reported to be involved in, corrupt practices should account to the integrity commission immediately or face disciplinary processes.
“Members who fail to give an acceptable explanation or to voluntarily step down while they face disciplinary, investigative or prosecutorial procedures, will be summarily suspended,” said Ramaphosa.
Lastly, Ramaphosa said the ANC was working towards building a better Africa and a better world through intensifying the country’s contribution towards the development of the continent and “building a more just and more peaceful global order”.
This years statement bore striking similarities to the one delivered by Ramaphosa last year before a packed Kimberley stadium where he also vowed to prioritise “building a capable state that serves all citizens, building a united and cohesive society, investment in jobs and inclusive growth as well as accelerating an effective land reform programme.”