CLOSING REMARKS BY ANC PRESIDENT TO THE MEETING OF NEC

NASREC

National Chairperson Cde Gwede Mantashe,

Deputy President Cde David Mabuza,

Treasurer General Cde Paul Mashatile

Members of the NEC,

As the last ordinary meeting of the term of this National Executive Committee comes to a close, we can reflect on extensive, thorough and productive deliberations.

Over the last few days, we have discussed a broad range of political issues.

We have dealt with critical challenges of the moment, including the renewal of the ANC, improving governance in all spheres, and addressing the economic and social needs of the people.

Response to rising cost of living

This meeting has looked at how we need to respond to the rising cost of living, which is causing great hardship for millions of South Africans.

Like many countries across the world, we are feeling the economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events as a result of climate change and the effects of Russia-Ukraine conflict.

This is having a particular severe impact on the life circumstances of the 40% percent of South Africans living in poverty.

These families and communities are struggling to afford the costs of education, transport, food and other basic needs.

We have noted government’s interventions to mitigate the impact of these developments.

These interventions include the extension of the SRD grant until March 2024, the temporary relief on fuel prices, the continuation of the VAT zero-rating of key food items, and the consolidation of our social security and protection system, with social grants reaching around 18 million South Africans.

This meeting has reaffirmed that we will continue resolutely to implement our programme to tackle the triple fault lines of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

This means that we will intensify our work to transform the economy and create jobs through the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

We are committed to maintain and, to the extent possible, expand social security to protect the vulnerable and reduce poverty.

This must form part of our efforts to build a comprehensive social security system.

The fight against poverty and the rising cost of living requires the provision of affordable quality basic services, including water, sanitation and electricity, and public transport.

We will continue to prioritise skills development and education, through universal access to early childhood development, improving the quality of basic education and strengthening higher education and vocational training.

We will continue to move towards universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance, and focus on improving the public health system as the backbone of a future unified health system.

We will continue to pursue land reform involving accelerated land redistribution and increased support for agricultural production.

In framing our response to the cost of living, we are guided by the key mission of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, which says that:

“No political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government.”

Black Economic Empowerment

In giving effect to this priority, the NEC remains clear that the movement remains resolutely committed to the implementation of broad-based black economic empowerment.

We have noted that whilst progress has been made in empowering black people and women in the economy, the benefits of this progress have not been felt by all South Africans.

This means that we need to intensify black economic empowerment measures, rather than to relax them.

We need to continue our work to refine and focus our efforts to ensure greater impact and faster realisation of the constitutional and economic imperative of empowerment and redress – a matter that is clearly set out in our Constitution.

The NEC has noted the new Preferential Procurement Regulations published by the National Treasury last week, in response to the Constitutional Court ruling on preferential procurement in the public sector.

These regulations now comply with Section 217 of the Constitution in that they empower organs of state to develop and implement preferential procurement policies when contracting for goods and services.

Contrary to some statements made in the public arena, these new regulations do not diminish our commitment to preferential procurement as a mechanism for economic transformation.

The NEC has affirmed the ANC’s position that broad-based black economic empowerment remains one of our key policy instruments.

Through the NEC Economic Transformation Committee, we will monitor progress in the implementation of this policy and continue to engage with stakeholders, especially black business and professionals.

Alliance Economic Summit

As the NEC, we have noted progress with preparations for the Economic Summit of the Alliance.

The Summit will be critical to cement common Alliance positions on economic transformation and development, and how to champion the interests of all South Africans, in particular the working class and unemployed.

Electoral Act Amendment Bill

We have had an opportunity to discuss the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, which has been passed by the National Assembly.

We have noted that the main objective of the Bill is to make provision for independent candidates to contest elections for the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

The debate about the most appropriate electoral system for our country is an important part of our maturing democracy.

It was also a matter that was raised in the State Capture Commission.

The ANC has consistently supported a proportional representation system as most appropriate for a country as diverse as ours in terms of race, class, gender and political opinion.

Proportional representation ensures that every political viewpoint shared by more than one quarter of one percent of the population is able to find representation in Parliament.

The ANC also supports the view that any electoral system reforms must strengthen the accountability of public representatives to the people.

We have said that these must be discussed widely in our society.

We have noted the objections from some sections of civil society to the current version of the Bill and have said that we should continue to engage on these matters.

State Capture Commission recommendations

We have received a report on the work of the ANC Task Team on the outcomes of the State Capture Commission.

The meeting welcomed the work done by the NEC sub-committees on the various findings and recommendations of the Commission.

The NEC endorsed government’s response to the Commission as submitted to Parliament on 22 October as a comprehensive plan to ensure that state capture never happens again.

Local government Coalitions

We have had a useful discussion on coalitions at a local government level.

Our previous and more recent experience of coalitions showed that they tend to contribute to instability in councils.

The NEC reaffirmed its principled approach towards coalition government.

This is based on the need to advance the achievement of our Manifesto commitments, particularly to build local democracy and service delivery, and also to improve accountability to citizens.

55TH National Conference preparations

We need to welcome the report on preparations for 55th National Conference, which will be held from 16-20 December 2022.

We must thank the tens of thousands of ANC members who gathered in their Branch General Meetings to elect delegates to National Conference and to nominate people for election to the NEC.

In the coming weeks, branches will continue discussions on the substantial issues before National Conference including organisational renewal, constitutional amendments that we also presented here, the ANC Strategy and Tactics and the programme of transformation.

As we have observed, this National Conference will be a moment of great significance for the ANC and for our country.

It will demonstrate the ANC’s internal democratic processes at work, and affirm the commitment of ANC members to renewal, unity and rebuilding.

We also welcome the update report on the work of the Renewal Commission on the proposed vision and programme for the ANC for the next 10 years.

The proposed vision for 2032 allows us to look beyond the issues of the present to position our movement for the South Africa and the world of the future.

International matters

As this NEC, we extend our congratulations to the people of Angola and the MPLA on the celebration of the centenary of the late President António Agostinho Neto.

As one of the founders of the MPLA, he was an internationalist, who supported the struggles of oppressed people across the continent, and in particular the struggle against apartheid in Namibia and South Africa.

The NEC welcomed the agreement reached between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front as a first step towards resolving the devastating conflict which started in November 2020.

We will continue to support efforts to ensure the talks pave the way towards a lasting solution to achieve peace, stability and development in Ethiopia.

We pay tribute to President Obasanjo and President Kenyatta and our own former Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for facilitating these talks.

We have noted the critical issues before COP27 taking place in Egypt.

We have reaffirmed ANC policies and those of government that developed economy countries must honour their commitments to reduce their own emissions and to pay for mitigation and adaptation in developing economy countries.

It further confirmed our commitment to an energy mix that takes into consideration our natural endowments and the developmental needs of the country in the context of a just transition.

A just transition that should leave no-one behind as we transition to a green economy, particularly workers and communities.

We are a month away from our 55th National Conference.

As this NEC, we will need to report to delegates on the implementation of the mandate that we were given five years ago at the 54th National Conference.

This report will be greatly enriched by the discussions we have had here.

Our report will reflect that while this NEC has had to confront serious challenges, we can point to several achievements and progress in a number of areas.

At the same time, we will need to acknowledge our shortcomings and failings as the NEC.

We must ensure that our Political and Organisational Reports are frank, critical and comprehensive so that we can empower delegates to develop a programme that takes our movement into a new phase of renewal and rebuilding.

As this NEC, we are close to the end of our term.

Our task now is to ensure that we have a successful 55th National Conference that takes forward the National Democratic Revolution and rebuilds the ANC as an effective agent of fundamental social transformation.

I want to end by thanking all ANC members who were able to execute their tasks, wherever they were deployed, and for showing their commitment to the people.

I want to thank comrades in the SGO and TGO in preparations for this Conference, and provincial, regional and branch leaders for their work in ensuring that BGMs take place.

I thank you.

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