The concentration of ownership of our economy in the hands of a white minority constrains sustainable growth and transformation.
Extract from the full statement
The ANC 54th National Conference, which was held in Johannesburg last month, addressed many of these issues and adopted policies to accelerate the fundamental transformation of our society.
While it is undeniable that the ANC has made significant strides in meeting the basic needs of the people, it is equally true that the legacy of colonialism and apartheid still remains deeply entrenched in our society. We therefore require a programme of fundamental and radical socio-economic transformation that will ensure that, in the words of President Mandela, political freedom goes side by side with ‘freedom from hunger, want and suffering.’
Guided by the National Development Plan, we aim to restore our focus on building an economy in which all South Africans can flourish, an economy which benefits the people as a whole, rather than a privileged few.
We seek an open, dynamic economy that embraces technological innovation, pursues higher productivity, creates jobs that pay better and improves the quality of life of our citizens. We recognise the challenges of modernisation and the imperatives of structural change in all sectors, especially in mining, manufacturing, agriculture and finance.
Our vision is an economy that encourages and welcomes investment, offers policy certainty and addresses barriers that inhibit growth and social inclusion. Our commitment is to build strong partnerships in which efficient and accountable government agencies, responsible citizens and businesses, effective trade unions and civil society work together for the common good.
Fundamentally, we are determined to build an economy that reverses apartheid injustices and corrects continuing patterns of deprivation and inequality.
It is for this reason that the resolutions adopted at our 54th National Conference focused on the measures we need to take now to significantly advance growth, development and transformation.
Critical to the success of these measures is strong collaboration among all social partners. While such collaboration has been essential to the success of many of the milestones of our young democracy, we must acknowledge that we have not sustained these partnerships in recent years.
Guided by the decisions of Conference, the ANC aims to forge a social pact between government, labour, business and communities urgently to reignite economic growth and accelerate the process of transformation. Each of the social partners needs to make specific commitments on the contribution they will make to promote far greater levels of investment and job creation.
While this social pact will be wide-ranging, it will need to focus in particular on youth unemployment, whose devastating impact on young people is cause for major concern.
Despite the progress we have made in expanding access to education, millions of young people do not have the skills that the economy needs. Even those with skills lack the work experience and readiness that most employers look for. Conference therefore agreed to prioritise effective public employment programmes, internships, job placement, youth entrepreneurship and set-aside programmes.
Critical to the expansion of access to economic opportunities is the implementation of a free higher education for students from poor and working class backgrounds whose household income is less than R350,000.
This will be implemented by providing full bursaries for tuition and study materials to qualifying South African students at public TVET colleges and universities, and subsidised accommodation or transport capped at specific levels for those who qualify, starting with first time entry students in 2018.
For returning existing university NSFAS funded students, in 2018 and going forward, their loans will be converted into full bursaries.
This historic decision, which vindicates many decades of struggle for free education for the poor, will be implemented in a phased approach to ensure sustainability of government finances and radically expanded access to education.
This is a critical contribution to ensuring that students from poor backgrounds are able to access the kind of skills required for meaningful participation in the economy. This is giving effect to our objective of a skills revolution, which requires that we sustain our significant investment in basic education. This will enable us to modernise our economy, improve the beneficiation of our natural resources and prepare our workforce for the fourth industrial revolution.
The concentration of ownership of our economy in the hands of a white minority constrains sustainable growth and transformation. We will work to change the ownership structure of our economy through, among other things, ensuring access to, and ownership of, financial institutions by black people, youth and women. This will include new approaches to regulation and licensing in the financial sector to foster diversified ownership and competition.
Development finance institutions and state banks should be directed to give greater emphasis to employment creation, empowerment, industrial diversification, and the development of small businesses and cooperatives.
The Reserve Bank plays a critical role in the life of any nation with regard to monetary policy and safeguarding and promoting the value of its currency.
The ANC once more reaffirms the role, mandate and independence of the Reserve Bank. As mandated by Conference, we call on government to develop proposals, in line with international practice, to ensure full public ownership of the Bank.
South Africa needs to pursue a multi-faceted growth strategy. Among the efforts to promote job creation on a far larger scale, we need to revitalise our manufacturing sector through a number of measures, including preferential procurement in both the public and private sectors to stimulate demand for local goods and to reduce domestic manufacturing costs.
Learning from the experiences of other emerging markets, our industrialisation strategy should focus on sectors with the greatest potential for growth and where we can make most effective use of our resources including in tourism, agricultural and mineral resources.
In order to reduce concentration of ownership and control in the economy and to open the market to new, black-owned companies, we have agreed to expand the mandate of the competition authorities. These institutions will have the responsibility and the means to reduce monopoly control of our economy and increase competition. State procurement and the award of concessions are going to be used more effectively to promote broad-based black economic empowerment and encourage greater worker ownership and board representation.
Another critical element of broad-based black economic empowerment are the ongoing interventions that are aimed at promoting township and rural economies. Our rural areas and townships were designed as labour dormitories. It is pleasing that work is already underway in many parts of the country to develop such areas as economic centres.
Through targeted investment, improved infrastructure and the creation of a conducive regulatory environment, more townships and rural areas can become sites for manufacturing and the expansion of the services industry.
We are pleased that agreement has been reached on the national minimum wage, which will be implemented on 1 May 2018. While recognising that the starting minimum wage is not a living wage, it is nevertheless a significant mechanism to immediately improve the lives of as many as 6.6 million low paid workers and establish a platform for further measures to reduce income inequality.
We applaud all social partners for having reached this historic agreement. We salute, in particular, our ally COSATU, which has struggled relentlessly for the realisation of this demand of the Freedom Charter.
The National Conference underlined how profoundly the dispossession of the indigenous people of this country of their land has contributed to poverty, hardship, unemployment and social dislocation. While important progress has been made in improving security of tenure and undertaking land restitution and redistribution, the pace has been too slow and the impact limited. There has also not been a sufficient link between the return of land and the provision of support to beneficiaries.
The 54th Conference decided that the historic injustice of land dispossession, therefore, needs to be addressed with greater urgency.
There was overwhelming support at the Conference that the ANC must pursue the expropriation of land without compensation. We will do so in a manner that not only meets the constitutional requirement of redress, but also promotes economic development, agricultural production and food security.
At the same time, we will pursue the enormous potential of agriculture to promote industrialisation, create employment and transform our economy. By modernising agricultural production and developing a substantial pool of skills in this area, we would not only improve food security, but also develop agro-processing, the manufacture of agricultural inputs and increase exports. This would have a profound effect on the sustainability of rural communities.
We need also to act with urgency and purpose to restore state owned enterprises (SOEs) as drivers of economic growth and development. Several key SOEs are in financial distress, threatening not only their own operations, but the national fiscus. Many of these enterprises have experienced serious governance lapses and poor delivery of their mandate. These challenges have been exacerbated by state capture, through which billions of rands have been illegally diverted to individuals.
Governance of these state owned enterprises has been severely weakened and confidence in the public sector generally has been undermined.
Building on the work already underway in government to reform SOEs, we will act urgently and decisively to improve governance, financial management and performance in all SOEs and protect them from improper interference.
Corruption in SOEs and other public institutions has undermined government’s programmes to address poverty and unemployment, weakened key institutions, discouraged investment and contributed to division within the ANC and the Alliance.
The ANC therefore welcomes the announcement by President Jacob Zuma of the establishment of a commission of inquiry in line with the findings of the Public Protector’s report on state capture.
Anti-corruption efforts within the state must be more effectively coordinated and all forms of corruption must be exposed and prosecuted. This includes corruption, collusion and other criminal activity in the private sector, which must be fought with equal diligence and determination.
Strong and efficient law-enforcement agencies are critical to the fight against corruption and crime generally, and to the restoration of the integrity and legitimacy of the state. In this regard, the ANC is of the firm view that the country’s intelligence services, the police and prosecutorial authorities should be strengthened and fortified to act with professionalism, and without fear, favour or prejudice. They should continue to be at the forefront of the fight against corruption and state capture, and work with communities to deal decisively with acts of criminality that threaten to tear communities apart.
These include child abuse, gender-based violence, substance abuse, human trafficking and many contact crimes that have been on the rise.
Improving access to justice and accelerating the transformation of the judicial system remains a key priority for the ANC.
Conference reaffirmed the imperative to continue enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the legal services across all levels of government. There was a further commitment to widen the allocation of the State’s legal work for broader participation by black people, in general, and women in particular.
We will intensify efforts to improve the health of our people, particularly in the context of the devastating impact of the AIDS epidemic and the emergence of other diseases. As South Africans, we must never accept as permanent or irreversible our status as the country with the world’s biggest HIV epidemic. We need to take decisive steps to bring an end to the epidemic through systematically implementing the 90-90-90 strategy, which will entail, among other things, the addition of two million more people to our antiretroviral treatment programme.
We are alarmed by the dramatic growth of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases. We need to launch a sustained national campaign against cancer and intensify our efforts to reduce smoking, alcohol and sugar consumption.
The present outbreak of listeriosis, a disease that has been in South Africa for the past 40 years and has suddenly grown into an epidemic, is worrying.
While the Department of Health and scientists are searching for the source, we call upon South Africans to heed the advice of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health, which have five key commandments for food safety. These are to keep clean and wash hands before and while preparing food; to separate raw and cooked food; to cook food properly; to keep food at safe temperatures; and to use safe water and raw materials.
The ANC 54th National Conference reaffirmed the ANC’s vision of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society.
We must follow Madiba’s example and become activists for the cause of non-racialism. This becomes particularly important at this time in our history when there is a seeming resurgence of racism and narrow ethnic nationalism across many parts of the world.
The ANC must remain a beacon of hope for progressive values.
The 54th National Conference resolved on a range of measures aimed at building social cohesion and a common national identity. In this regard, one of the most important tasks of ANC cadres is to be effective leaders of change and be integrally involved in community dialogues and community fora.
Members must have dynamic links with inter-faith organisations, sports and cultural leaders, the private sector and traditional leaders to enhance moral regeneration, social cohesion and nation building.
More importantly, every ANC member must fight the demon of racialism, guard against narrow ethnic nationalism and other backward tendencies such as xenophobia. As a country, we must condemn all acts of racism and work together to end all racist practices.
South Africa has made tremendous strides in the emancipation of women, but much more must be done. We must confront the seeming resurgence of patriarchy and backward attitudes towards the role of women in society.
Members of the ANC must be at the forefront of all campaigns aimed at engendering equality between men and women at all levels. We call on ANC men in particular to be activists in the campaign to eradicate gender stereotypes that not only oppress women; but also have the effect of keeping men in psychological bondage. Part of this campaign should be the socialisation of children to respect one another and to shun gender stereotypes.
Gender-based violence and violence against other vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQI community is a scourge that needs to be eradicated.
The ANC also commits to practical measures aimed at the full realisation of women’s leadership potential.
In building a caring society that is cohesive and which protects the vulnerable, the 54th National Conference resolved that street, block and village committees, in which ANC members are active, are key vehicles of social cohesion and transformation. These committees must know exactly what is happening in each street in relation to violence against women and children, substance abuse, crime and be able to ensure that there are safe houses for victims, and that the police and social workers fulfil their functions.
ANC branches must also be active in and strengthen the Community Policing Forums and Community Safety Forums. Members of the communities must know their neighbours and be concerned about their lives.
The above programmes must be backed up by practical measures such as making access to education easier for the girl-child by providing safe and reliable public transport for learners who live far from schools and providing free sanitary products to indigent learners and young women.
An important component of building a non-sexist society is to promote gender equality in sports at all levels and to enhance support for women’s sport.
Madiba was resolute that because we live in an interdependent world, we must learn from and take advantage of what is happening in other parts of the world. He was fully aware that South Africa depended a great deal on international solidarity and was adamant that the ANC and South Africa will always stand with the oppressed and marginalised across the world.
Our membership of BRICS is an important tool to enhance multilateralism and we must leverage our 2018 chairpersonship of BRICS for the advancement of South Africa’s national interests and the promotion of a more equitable world order.
The ANC has a long tradition of internationalism, based on the understanding that an injury to one is an injury to all. It has consistently lent its support to the peoples of the world living in situations of conflict, who have been displaced and who are subject to discrimination, oppression and exploitation.
We are particularly concerned about the resurgence of slave trading in Africa and will work with partners on the continent and further afield to combat it. We salute those South African organisations and individuals that are actively engaged in international solidarity work and humanitarian assistance.
The ANC reaffirms the inalienable right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and independence.
The ANC condemns the withdrawal of Morocco from the UN-led peace process and calls on the UN to bring all parties back to the negotiating table.
The ANC will continue with its work of supporting the peace process in Sudan and South Sudan so as to find lasting solutions to the outstanding matters on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and solutions to the border conflicts.
The ANC reaffirms its commitment to give practical support to the oppressed people of Palestine and we are of the firm view that the downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel to a Liaison Office would help to send a strong signal in this regard.
The ANC calls on the South African government to increase trade between South Africa and Cuba as a reinforcement of our international solidarity with the people of that country. We call on the United States to remove the illegal economic embargo against Cuba.