The 54th National Conference is taking place at a time when our movement is at a crossroads, President Jacob Zuma said in addressing organisational issues in his Political Report.
“While we identify corporate greed as posing a serious threat to the ANC, we also need to look at internal dynamics within our organisation.The negative tendencies that have been creeping in since the dawn of our democracy in April 1994 in the ANC have intensified over the years. They have now come to a head and are threatening the survival of the ANC,” he said.
He said the outcome of the 2016 local government elections indicated a serious decline in support for the ANC and were “a stark reminder that our people are not happy with the state of the ANC”. The movement was afflicted by factionalism, gatekeeping, ill-discipline, membership buying and infighting.
However, despite the challenges of the day, the ANC still represents the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the millions of our people who are marginalised and who are concentrated in the periphery of our mainstream economy.
“A heavy responsibility rests upon the shoulders of delegates here and on the membership as a whole, to renew our movement and restore its timeless values – unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates and mutual respect,” he said.
To exercise this responsibility, the President said, we should:
- Focus on the needs of our people. The ANC should once again be the first to know if there are problems in any community, and it is the ANC that must lead the process of finding solutions, working with government.
- Eradicate gatekeeping. We should enable people join their movement and participate in its activities. The ANC is the home of all our people, regardless of race, gender and class.
- Reaffirm the authority of the organisation over its individual members. There should be consequences for any member who acts and speaks contrary to the values, principles and political programme of the ANC.
- Continuously guard against the use of parliament to entrench colonial and apartheid privilege and the exclusion of the majority from the enjoyment of the benefits of citizenship. Conference must thus reflect on the kind of parliamentary culture the ANC espouses and the kind of strategies and tactics to be used so that we do not permit counter-revolutionary tendencies in parliament.
- Frown upon the subjection of our internal organisational matters to court processes. Members should use internal dispute resolution processes. Judges should not be asked to dictate ANC organisational processes and the direction of the movement.
- Improve our engagement with civil society and regain our role as the leader of society, and not allow the space to be utilised by those whose interests clash with those of the poor and the working class that the ANC leads.
“All of us must contribute to making this conference a resounding success. As members of the ANC, we must give people reason to have faith and confidence in the movement, by the manner in which we seriously deal with the challenges facing our movement,” he said
In his last address as ANC President, he concluded by thanking the ANC membership and all our branches, the provinces, regions and indeed all structures of the movement, the Leagues and our Alliance partners.
“It has been a real honour and privilege to lead this glorious movement. I thank you all sincerely for the opportunity,” he said.