- The ANC's unity and renewal is the party's "key priority", said its leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
- Its second priority is "accelerating the work to deal with our current existential challenge, which is load shedding".
- Ramaphosa was addressing members from a broad range of civil society organisations in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Despite admitting that it got a wake-up call at the 2021 municipal elections, the ANC prioritises its own "unity and renewal" above ending the energy crisis.
The ANC's first priority is the renewal and unity of the party, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday in his capacity as party leader.
Its second priority? Ending the "current existential challenge" of load shedding.
Ramaphosa listened to a range of civil society organisations – from unions, the Black Business Council, traditional leaders, to Scientologists – raising issues at what the ANC called an engagement with civil society in the Johannesburg City Hall on Saturday.
Ramaphosa said their priorities align with that of the ANC, as expressed in its January 8 statement.
"Our first priority is really aimed at the renewal of the ANC and forging even stronger unity within the African National Congress," said Ramaphosa.
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He said the ANC's national executive committee identified this as the "key priority".
"Because the renewal of the ANC and the unity of the ANC will lead to the renewal of our nation. Ipso facto, it speaks for itself."
Ramaphosa claimed that the "South African nation" is not united when the ANC isn't united.
He said the engagement with civil society contributes to the ANC's renewal.
Ramaphosa said a number of the speaker from civil society raised the "second priority".
"And the second priority is about accelerating the work to deal with our current existential challenge, which is load shedding."
"As you will have heard, we've embarked on a number of measures to address load shedding," said Ramaphosa, without drawing a distinction between the party and the state.
He said on Thursday, there was an announcement that the electricity availability factor has increased in several power stations.
"And this is largely because of the work we have announced in our energy action plan, that we are now going to pay more attention to, to focus on this," Ramaphosa said.
"I even appointed a Minister of Electricity, and that minister is now busy at work," said Ramaphosa.
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Later in his engagement of more than an hour, Ramaphosa said with unusual animation: "I'm often criticised: Oh, you consult too much."
"When I decided we should have a Minister of Electricity, I hadn't even briefed my colleagues and comrades in the ANC. Some of them said: 'Ah! The president has taken a decision on his own!' And I said, okay, sometimes you say I consult too much, when I take a decision, you complain. I just said, that is your problem!" said a smiling Ramaphosa.
"Sometimes I will not consult, and sometimes I will consult. And I said, you better get used to it. This is how I'm rolling now! This is how I am going forward," he added with a chuckle.
Ramaphosa, serious again, said: "But consultation is part of our DNA. And that is how we should move forward."
The ANC's third priority, according to Ramaphosa, is empowerment and transformation through mobilising social partners.
The fourth priority is service delivery, including infrastructure, whether it is in rural or urban areas.
"That has been identified as a key priority," said Ramaphosa, explaining that there has been a weakening in service delivery over time.
"And that is why, in 2021, the ANC then dropped in terms of its share of the vote. It was because of service delivery. Our people, correctly, have raised this issue that we are not getting good services. And for us, it was a wake-up call."
Today, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC is engaging with civil society. ANC 55th National Conference Outcomes Finding Practical Expression!#ANCRenewal #ANCInConversation pic.twitter.com/tk3nt6wo5f— African National Congress (@MYANC) March 18, 2023
Ramaphosa said the fifth priority is to "strengthen the fight against crime and corruption".
The "other important priority" for the ANC is to "build a better Africa and a better world."
"A better world, to spread the word of peace, to spread the word of peace-building in the world, and to be involved in conflict resolution processes, which we are involved in in a number of places.
"But also continuing to say, the conflicts that persist around the world must be solved in the way that Nelson Mandela taught us."
He said former president Mandela taught that the only way to resolve conflicts is through negotiations.