The National Executive Committee of the African National Congress held a NEC meeting on the 24th and 25th January 2016. The meeting was convened in preparation for the NEC Lekgotla, which was held, from the 25th to the 27th January 2016. The NEC Lekgotla is a biannual gathering of the ANC, which meets to identify urgent priorities requiring attention and to guide the work of ANC deployees in government in the year ahead.
National Executive Committee Meeting
The NEC deliberated at length on the recent emergence of racism and what seem to be racist individuals becoming more emboldened within South African society. The historic mission of the ANC, being the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society has always been premised on a vision of a nation united in diversity, not oblivious to the injustices of the past but determined to engender and foster social cohesion.
The Political Report delivered by the President was emphatic on the need for the ANC and society to confront and defeat racism in society wherever it occurs. To do this, South Africa must urgently respond to the frustration of the black majority, many of whom believe that their attempts at reconciliation and nation building are rejected. Economic marginalization and inequality perpetuate the notion of a superior race and an ingrained system of domination; NEC has thus reaffirmed wealth redistribution as both a moral and economic imperative.
Institutions that have been set up to restore dignity of our people and protect our democracy must be utilized. The ANC has therefore instituted applications in the Equality Court against individuals who have been at the forefront of perpetuating racial conflict including current and former members of the Democratic Alliance, Dianne Kohler Barnard, Chris Roberts and Penny Sparrow. This action is intended to send an unequivocal message that racism has no place in our society and racial exploitation and superiority must be eradicated. The ANC invites all stakeholders, including the media, to join the case as Amicus Curiae (Friends of the Court); a united coalition of South Africans against a scourge of attempts to uphold white privilege at the expense of the black majority. The NEC calls on all South Africans to defend democracy, reject racism and build a non-racial and non-sexist society.
NEC further considered a report on the recently renewed trade agreement between South Africa and the United States in the form of African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The NEC took a decision that there must be a review of all trade agreements entered into by the democratic government since 1999. The review must assess socio-economic impact and the extent to which the agreement advances South Africa`s economic interest. At all times, government must be alive to the need for an exit strategy where agreements have a potential to defeat the core objective which is – to expand, increase and grow our domestic industries and markets.
Some key successes since the 2015 Lekgotla
Lekgotla reflected on the work that has been done to date in fulfillment of the mandate bestowed on the ANC by the people of South Africa. We noted in particular the following key successes:
- Poverty has been reduced and the living standards of South Africans improved through government`s basket of social services. These include amongst them no-fee schools, school nutrition programmes, social grants and the progressive realization of free higher education for the poor.
- We are recording near universal access until Grade 9. There is an increase in Grade R enrolments and increased expenditure per capita for South African children.
- More than 250 000 young people are benefiting from the Youth Employment Tax Incentives and concerted effort is being made to deal with unemployment amongst women and youth.
- There is improvement of social and economic infrastructure at local government level and work is being done our State Owned Enterprises to ensure energy security and increase mobility of our people; providing much needed impetus to the economy
- Sectors such as automobiles, clothing and textiles and manufacturing specifically of buses, trains and taxis are seeing healthy growth
- In local government the number of entities with unqualified audit reports has increased, the number of clean audits has increased, there is greater focus on good governance as well as communication and engagement with our people.
- South Africa has risen on the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum from 56th to 49th due to an increased uptake of information communication technologies and improvements in innovation.
The Lekgotla has welcomed these achievements and revolved that the ANC government must focus on the following moving forward.
On the Economy
The creation of decent work, more jobs and sustainable livelihoods remains a key priority of the ANC. While accepting the challenges emanating from a depressed global economic climate, the pressure on emerging markets and sluggish economic growth; bold actions are expected from government to grow the economy inclusively and avert the possibility of a credit ratings downgrade. More needs to be done to create an enabling environment for more jobs, decent works and sustainable livelihoods. To this end, we must:
- Engender consensus between all key stakeholders to help stabilize the economy, save jobs and restore fiscal sustainability and credibility
- Deal decisively with the threat of state capture, resolve governance problems in SOEs, implement stringent cost cutting measures and consolidate the implementation of sound fiscal practices to strengthen the people`s confidence in the South African economy
- Locate land reform (redistribution, restitution, development and tenure) and agrarian reform at the centre of our efforts to turn around the economy. The commitment to land and agrarian reform must be demonstrated through adequate resource allocation to this sector including the expectation on government to implement the 2003 AU Maputo Declaration that enjoins signatories to allocate 10% of national budget annually to agriculture.
- Government must urgently analyse and resolve the stalemate on set-aside for youth and black owned businesses
- The fact that there has been no load shedding since August 2015 seems to be indicative of an improving energy security situation. It must be analysed whether such seeming stability in electricity provision is a result of an improvement in the supply side of Eskom or simply indicates the parastatal`s ability to meet demand in a slow growth economy. Lekgotla has expressed concerns on the proposed electricity price hike as reliable and affordable provision of electricity is critical for the country`s viability and economic growth. National consensus must be built on the proposed energy mix, with specific focus on renewable and nuclear energy, in order to ensure greater energy security.
- The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill must be finalized urgently in order to create policy and regulatory certainty. Mining stakeholders engaged on an accord to save jobs in the industry.
Much progress has been made in improving access, ensuring redress, creating equity and inclusivity in our education system. Lekgotla however identified high fees, particularly at higher education level, as having an exclusionary impact in society. Free Education is and remains ANC policy. Lekgotla supported the interventions put in place by government including the no increase in fees for 2016 and the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry by the President to investigate the modalities towards progressively realising free education for the poor at post school.
On the Capacity of the State
The ANC government inherited an apartheid state that was corrupt and unaccountable and not geared to serve the needs of our people. More than twenty years later the question arises as to whether we have successfully transformed the state .The NEC Lekgotla reaffirmed the capacity of the state as being critical to the success of our developmental and transformative agenda.
Government is therefore expected to be proactive and build its capabilities to play its role. These capabilities must include strategic orientation, ideological capacity, organizational capacity and ethos as well as technical and development capacity.
Government must build strong institutions able to translate policy frameworks into implementation programmes and execute them. Amongst others, individuals and cadres who do not possess the requisite skills should not be employed or deployed in the state.
Bureaucratic arrogance and an uncaring attitude when dealing with our people must be eliminated. The ANC must lead in shaping a common national agenda derived from the NDP and mobilise society to take part in its implementation through participarotry people-centred development.
On Local Government and the Elections
The African National Congress goes into the 2016 Local Government Elections emboldened by the work done at Local Government to improve the lives of our people for the better. Our urban areas have been deracialised. In many municipalities financial management has been stabilized. Many more of our people have access to quality, reliable and sustainable basic levels of service. Housing delivery has been accelerated and there is a decrease in the number of public protests. National and provincial government have intervened decisively where necessary to ensure that weak or dysfunctional municipalities are capacitated and if in the interest of better governance, political leadership has been changed. Our efforts in the coming year must be on consolidating the gains of the Back to Basics programme and creating thriving and sustainable local economies. The ANC is confident of retaining all metropolitan municipalities we currently govern and will be fighting to win the City of Cape Town.
This 2016 NEC Lekgotla was distinctive in that it spoke to the fact that the ANC realizes and is confronting the challenges facing the country. We are confident that South Africa will overcome the difficulties before us as we are a resilient country, led by a resilient organisation. At all times when confronted with challenges, the ANC has been able to lead our people to change and adapt to the current conditions. 2016, the Year of Advancing People`s Power: Local Government is about this – harnessing the collective power of our people towards a social compact that recognizes the role of all stakeholders to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Issued by ANC