President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his closing speech at the end of the African National Congress’s sixth national policy conference.
He spoke to several issues that are facing the country, from the cost of living to gender-based violence, that the ANC hopes to find solutions for through its policies.
This conference precedes the national elective conference, which will take place in December.
READ THE FULL SPEECH FROM SUNDAY
We have now come to the end of our sixth Policy Conference.
True to the democratic traditions of our movement, this Conference has been characterised by open and robust debate.
Even where delegates have had differences, there has always been a firm commitment to engage with each other and to find common positions.
While we must continue to debate how we can best address the challenges our country faces, we are all agreed on the goals we must pursue.
We are all agreed that we must unite all South Africans to achieve the complete emancipation of all our people.
We have noted that across all the commissions, there was a shared consensus that both the ANC and government must respond “adequately, urgently and assertively” to the challenges that our people confront on a daily basis.
The challenges include unemployment, poverty, crime, gender-based violence and femicide, corruption, social cohesion, racism, the energy crisis and the rising cost of living.
Delegates recognised that these many challenges will not be resolved unless we intensify the genuine renewal of the ANC and the building of a capable, ethical and developmental state.
This means that we need to clearly define and articulate the character of the ANC as a nonracial, non-sexist and democratic liberation movement that must organise, mobilise and lead the motive forces and society in pursuit of a National Democratic Society.
The renewal of the ANC therefore requires that we remain rooted among the people, must demonstrate a willingness to serve and make sacrifices, and must be willing to acknowledge and address our weaknesses.
Since our 54th National Conference we have made important progress in implementing our resolutions on renewal and rebuilding, but we have recognised at this Policy Conference that we need to act with greater purpose and urgency.
We have agreed here that the over-arching framework for renewal needs to include:
Firstly, the renewal of the ANC’s values and organisational culture and ethics, secondly, dealing decisively with corruption and unacceptable conduct.
Thirdly, engaging with, and pursuing the aspirations of the people.
Fourthly, taking responsibility to use the resources of the state for the people’s benefit as required by the Constitution – economically, efficiently and equitably.
This task belongs to every member, leader, public representative and structure of the ANC.
All the elements of our renewal framework need to be integrated into every aspect of our work in the ANC, in society and in government.
Policy Conference agreed that ANC branches should play a more active role in the renewal process and be well rooted among our people.
Comrades, this 6th Policy Conference has affirmed our fundamental position that the people shall share in the country’s wealth.
This Policy Conference has agreed we need to undertake extraordinary and urgent measures to accelerate inclusive growth, create employment and alleviate poverty.
We have also noted with great concern the impact of the rising cost of living on South African families, and have made a number of recommendations specifically on rising fuel and food prices. We have called on government to act urgently to support consumers and businesses at this difficult time.
But these measures will not be successful unless they are embraced by all sections of society and unless all sections of society are involved in forming and undertaking these measures.
We are committed to build an inclusive and lasting social compact.
While different constituencies may pursue different interests, and may hold different views, we share a common national interest in unity, stability, growth, employment and prosperity for all.
We have discussed the respective and complementary roles that the public and private sectors should play in developing our economy.
We have called for the state to be strengthened, for our state owned enterprises to be stabilised, restructured and effectively capacitated to drive inclusive economic growth and social development.
We have recognised the vital role of the private sector, particularly small business and the informal sector, in creating employment and other livelihood opportunities.
And we have proposed a range of measures to unlock the huge potential of businesses of all sizes to emerge, grow and thrive.
We have recognised that our economic progress requires a secure supply of affordable and sustainable energy.
Conference has endorsed the actions recently announced by government to improve the performance of Eskom’s existing power stations and to add new generation capacity to the grid as quickly as possible.
It has affirmed the need for a diverse mix of energy sources and a just transition to a low carbon economy that ensures our energy security, protects jobs and livelihoods and does not compromise our industrial development.
Expanded infrastructure investment should be accelerated to play a critical role in providing basic services to urban and rural communities and improving South Africa’s overall economic performance.
We must use available means, including the new Expropriation Bill, to accelerate land redistribution.
As the delegates to this Policy Conference, we are determined to achieve gender equality in all areas of life, starting within the ranks of our movement, in every structure and in every programme. We have agreed that this is everyone’s responsibility, and not only the responsibility of women.
As part of this, the empowerment of women – economically, politically, socially and culturally– must be one of our foremost priorities.
Among other things, Conference has urged the application of over-arching equality legislation and using procurement more effectively to empower women economically.
We are all agreed that all South Africans have a right to live in peace and security, and that no-one should live in fear of crime, violence or abuse. We are committed to work together to end all forms of violence committed by men against women and children.
All delegates to this Policy Conference are agreed that the development and empowerment of our youth is vital to the future of our nation.
We have agreed on the need to intensify our efforts to provide young people with quality education and relevant skills, to expand the various programmes that bridge the gap between learning and earning, and to use all available policy instruments to encourage businesses to hire more young people.
We are all agreed that every person in this country must, without exception, have access to quality education, decent health care, housing, water, sanitation, electricity and safe, reliable transport.
This means that we need to fundamentally overhaul local government, ensure that it is properly resourced, effectively managed and led by honest, capable and committed people.
The Policy Conference noted once again the historical anomaly of private ownership of the South Africa Reserve Bank and reaffirmed the 54th National Conference resolution that the bank should be fully owned by the state.
Delegates urged the ANC government to find mechanisms to restructure the ownership structure in a manner and at a pace that takes account of the likely cost implications for the fiscus.
Delegates also urged that the process for establishing a state bank be accelerated.
All the measures proposed to grow and transform the economy rely on a fiscal policy that ensure our national debt is contained within sustainable limits, and that spending is reprioritised away from consumption towards investment.
In this way, we can align our fiscal policy with industrial policy, which should focus on rebuilding and broadening our industrial base.
We have agreed to propose that the procurement system should by law be more open and transparent, building on the initiatives for greater public access to all tender information.
Comrades, this Conference has demonstrated more clearly than ever before our common commitment to rid our organisation of factionalism, patronage and corruption, and to rebuild and to renew.
It has made the unequivocal statement that we must fulfil the promise that we have made to our people to place their interests and their well-being among all others.
We have reaffirmed the resolutions of the 54th National Conference on corruption and state capture.
The overwhelming view of Policy Conference is for the retention of the step-aside provisions to enhance the integrity of the movement and its leadership.
Conference noted strong concerns on the perceived lack of consistency in the application and implementation of the policy. Conference agreed that these must receive urgent attention so that the application of the guidelines is impartial, fair and consistent.
Delegates have affirmed the ANC approach to the report of the State Capture Commission, and have urged that the findings and recommendations of the report form the basis of a society-wide effort to tackle corruption in all its forms.
Over the last three days, through intensive and thorough discussion, we have developed a series of policy proposals on how to achieve our revolutionary objectives.
Some existing policies we have affirmed, some we have refined and some we have changed.
These policy proposals will now go to the structures of our movement for further debate before being placed before our 55th National Conference for consideration and adoption.
Let us use the next few months to build our branches through political discussion.
As we have done over the decades – whether in mass formations, in exile or in prison – let us turn every branch meeting into an umrabulo session.
Let us use these meetings to deepen the political consciousness of the hundreds of thousands of ANC members so that they may lead the fundamental renewal of our movement.
This Policy Conference gives us hope for the future of our movement.
It has sent a clear signal to our members, our supporters and the people of this country that, whatever our challenges, whatever our shortcomings, the ANC is alive.
It sent a clear signal that the ANC is committed to consolidate and deepen the freedom for which so many sacrificed their lives.
This Conference has made plain that the ANC will continue to direct its attention and its significant capabilities towards serving the people of South Africa, particularly the poor, the working class and the vulnerable.
This Policy Conference gives us encouragement that the renewal of the ANC is unstoppable, and that we have both the means and the commitment to rebuild and revitalise our movement.
Our sincere thanks go to all those who were involved in ensuring the success of this sixth Policy Conference, particularly the staff of the ANC, who have borne the brunt of the ANC’s financial difficulties, but who have time and time again demonstrated their commitment to our cause.
This Conference has determined that the resolution of this challenge must be a priority.
I wish to thank all the delegates to this conference, the representatives of our Alliance partners and other formations.
This sixth Policy Conference has effectively prepared the path towards our 55th National Conference.
Let us now go out to our branches, to our communities and to all social formations to report on these deliberations and to work together to decide the direction of our movement and our country.
I wish all delegates safe travel as you head home.
From this Policy Conference, we can emphatically declare:
The ANC lives. The ANC leads.
The struggle continues.
I thank you.