Statement of the National Executive Committee on the Occasion of the 106th Anniversary of the African National Congress.


January 8, 2018

Fellow South Africans,

The African National Congress turns 106 years this year.

We are in the Eastern Cape, the home of legends. As the newly elected leadership of the ANC, we visited and laid wreaths at the graves of the first ANC President, John Langalibalele Dube and former Presidents Chief Albert Luthuli, Josiah Gumede, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. We shook their bones and sought their blessing as we take the ANC into an era of unity and service to the people. We take this opportunity to reaffirm the ANC's commitment to the values and principles to which so many of our legends dedicated their lives. January 8th Statement 2018.

The African National Congress was formed to heal the wounds that had been inflicted on our people by colonial conquest. Our organisation belongs to the people of South Africa and it is our duty to safeguard and nurture it. The core ideal that is the reason for the ANC's existence--the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, prosperous and equitable society--is yet to be fully realised. As its newly elected leadership, we commit to our membership that we shall remain faithful and diligent custodians of this glorious vision.

This year, we mark the anniversaries of several milestones in the history of our struggle for democracy:

It is 210 years since the 1808 rebellion of slaves in the Cape seeking a free state and freedom for all slaves. The rebellion, which was quashed by the colonial authorities, was one of the earliest instances of organised multi-racial resistance to tyranny and injustice in South Africa.

It is 105 years since the 1913 Land Act and 95 years since the Native Urban Areas Act, two pieces of legislation that were central to the deprivation of black South Africans of their land, assets and livelihoods. The effects of these laws continue to be felt today.

It is 100 years since the formation of the Bantu Women's League, a forerunner of the ANC Women's League and the first organisation in the country to take up the struggle of South African women.

It is 75 years since the adoption of the Africans' Claims in South Africa document, which set out the demands of black South Africans for equal rights and self-determination. This seminal document January 8th Statement 2018 2 was a precursor to the Freedom Charter, the ANC's Constitutional Guidelines and the country's democratic Constitution.

It is 65 years since the Bantu Education Act was introduced, effectively depriving generations of black South Africans of quality education and skills and consigning them to grinding poverty. n It is 55 years since the start of the Rivonia Trial, during which Nelson Mandela and other leaders of Umkhonto we Sizwe were sentenced to life imprisonment for having the courage to take up arms against the apartheid state. We use this opportunity, today, to pay tribute to the two surviving Rivonia trialists, Isithwalande Andrew Mlangeni and Dennis Goldberg.

It is also 55 years since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, which was formed to help bring about independence from colonialism and promote the unity and solidarity of the African continent.

It is 45 years since the Durban strikes, which signaled the start of a new era in the struggle of the Black working class and in the broader struggle against apartheid.

This year, we mark the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani, whose murder at the hands of right-wingers on the eve of our democratic breakthrough remains a source of pain and anguish to our nation. We also mark the passing, two weeks later, of that giant of our struggle, former President Oliver Tambo.

The ANC has produced many great sons and daughters who lived lives of extraordinary activism in service to the people of South Africa.

This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest leaders this country, this continent and the world has known--Isithwalandwe Seaparankoe Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

We shall celebrate his centenary not only as the people of South Africa, but also as a continent and as the broader global community. We shall pay tribute to the contribution that he made, over the course of his 95 years, to the struggle for freedom and the cause of building humane social relations across the globe.

We shall draw lessons and inspiration from his life as we confront the challenges of the present. We shall use this historic occasion to unite, rebuild and renew the movement to which he dedicated his life and intensify our work to build the free and equitable society for which he fought.

As we do so, we shall reflect on the past year, in which we commemorated the life of his friend and comrade, former President Oliver Reginald Tambo, and the profound impact that that centenary had on every aspect of the political work of the ANC and the Alliance.

This year, as we celebrate the centenary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, we shall intensify our efforts to realise his vision of a united South Africa in which all live in peace with equal rights and opportunities.

We shall renew our focus on comrade Mandela's vision of a non-racial society in which the social and economic barriers that have separated black from white are torn down. We shall redouble our efforts to build a society in which black poverty and white privilege are consigned to the past, replaced by respect, solidarity and non-racial equality.

We shall place at the top of our agenda Madiba's vision of a non-sexist society in which the oppression and exploitation of women--whether in the workplace, in communities or in the home--is eradicated. We will work to ensure we achieve comprehensive development of women in all spheres of life so as to ensure that there is equality between women and men.

We shall work to rekindle Madiba's vision of a democratic society in which all citizens have equal opportunity to determine their own destiny. We shall achieve this not only through strengthening the instruments of representative and participatory democracy; but also by ensuring that people have economic opportunities and the ability to make choices about their own lives. We shall work to strengthen organs of civil society, including street committees and other community-based organisations, understanding that they provide the means through which people can participate fully in changing their lives for the better.

In 2018, as the African National Congress, we shall work to restore the confidence of the South African people in a shared vision for radical social and economic transformation. We shall confront, together, the lack of broad-based economic participation and the social marginalisation of millions of poor and landless people.

This we shall do, proceeding from the understanding that, an equitable society is in the interest of all South Africans, whatever their race, gender or social status.

Drawing on the wisdom of Madiba, and led by his example, we shall focus all our efforts on improving the lives of all South Africans, especially the poor.

This year, we will also celebrate the centenary of the birth of Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu, a stalwart of our struggle who is remembered for her strength, compassion and tireless commitment to the people of this country. As a prominent leader of the ANC, ANC Women's League, Federation of South African Women and the United Democratic Front, Ma Sisulu represented the epitome of selfless service to the people. We will use this year to remember her life and outstanding contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy.

Renew the ANC as the Vanguard of Transformation

At the centre of all our efforts this year must be the fundamental renewal and revitalisation of the African National Congress.

The ANC's 54th National Conference, which met in Johannesburg in December 2017, recognised that the movement has become deeply divided through factionalism, patronage, corruption and competition for resources. Structures of the movement have been weakened and the confidence of the people in the ANC has been eroded.

This, and the development of social distance between elected leaders and the electorate, has damaged the bond between the ANC and the masses of the people.

Conference decided that the ANC should embark with immediate...

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