President Jacob Zuma says the fifth African National Congress (ANC) National Policy Conference must be informed by unity – which is the rock upon in which the ANC was founded 100 years ago.
Addressing ANC delegates in Johannesburg on Friday, Zuma said the ANC was taught by its founding leaders about the importance of unity and declared that unity must be the thread that keeps the ANC movement and South Africa moving forward.
However, he admitted that the ANC’s conference was taking place during an economically difficult period for South Africa: “The economy has entered into a technical recession and at the time of the [Budget speech] in February, the economy was expected to grow at a low 1.3% in 2017. Given the current difficulties, even this low growth rate may now not be achieved.”
The deliberations during the conference would need to investigate what needed to be done to reignite economic growth over the next five years.
Delegates also needed to reflect on the pace and quality of the implementation of ANC programmes and how this could be improved further to improve the lives of South Africans, Zuma pointed out.
He also noted that the ANC had faced several challenges over the years, which have impacted on the organisation’s character.
Further, negative tendencies, have caused frustration and disillusionment among ANC members and the South African population.
“The conference is called upon to look at the developments and emerge with recommendations that will help [align] the movement to its core business, mission and character. It is not the first time we discuss organisational renewal. However, at this conference, we must be solutions-based. We must develop solutions to those challenges,” Zuma urged.
Zuma reminded delegates that land remained one of the most contentious and emotive issues.
The pace of land restoration and redistribution remained a “sore point for millions of our people, who were shunted to a small portion of the lowest quality of land and were even denied the right to purchase land reserved for a minority of citizens.”
However, Zuma said it was possible to find radical solutions to “land hunger” by working within the ambit of the law and the Constitution.
It was also necessary to discuss ways of sustaining commercial agriculture and increasing the contribution of agriculture to the gross domestic product.
STATE COMPANIES MINING CHARTER
Zuma highlighted his concern about the state of State-owned Enterprises (SOEs).
“SOEs are strategic instruments of a developmental State. But we have to get them to the right level of performance and governance for them to achieve their mission,” he asserted.
He acknowledged that problems at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, South African Airways and Eskom had been subjects of public debates, and stressed that finding solutions to the problems of SOEs was critical for the ANC.
Meanwhile, he briefly stated that the controversial Mining Charter must be used to facilitate broad-based black economic empowerment local procurement, the development of black industrialists and small, medium-sized and microenterprises.
Zuma concluded his address by urging the ANC to come out of the policy conference stronger and emphasised the need for all delegates to ensure that the conference was a success.