Program Director : PS
NEC members present, deployees and residing
Members of the PEC
Leadership of the Alliance
Leadership of our Leagues and PYA
Traditional and Religious Leadership,
PET and the entire election machinery
Deployees in government,
All invited guests.
Comrades receive our revolutionary greetings as we open our Eastern Cape ANC elections Strategy Workshop. This is not just an electoral exercise for an organization that seeks to outrightly and convincingly win the upcoming national general elections, but an important platform to assess and agree on what needs to be done to press ahead with the work of restoring and renewing the ANC as an instrument for transformation in the hands of the people.
Our viewpoint, is that what has kept the ANC in government is not just the superiority of its election strategies, but its fundamental purpose in society in which the people have placed their hopes on. Therefore, we may have the best strategies, but if we lose the essence of what the vast majority of our people identify with when they see the brand ANC, those strategies will mean very little on election day when the people make their choices on who is best placed to govern in the current phase of our developmental tragedy.
It therefore becomes important to foreground whatever we agree on here, on renewing and restoring the ANC as a national liberation movement that is registered as a political party for electoral purposes. In other words, for the ANC to remain the people’s choice in government, it must be the instrument and vehicle to transform the living conditions of our people and accelerate the socio-economic transformation that is much needed in the country and in our province today.
The minute the ANC becomes only a registered political party to contest elections, it will come to these platforms purely to agree on strategies to win elections. It will not bother itself with what the winning of those elections mean for the whole people who in their majority remain unemployed, displaced and marginalized. When that happens, the ANC will be a shell of its former self, that basks in former glory and as such face what was described in the diagnostic report to the ANC 5th National Policy Conference as an existential crisis.
I am starting of on this note as a way of provoking a different approach to elections that says it should not just be about winning, but about how that win consolidates, defends and advances the gains of the democratic breakthrough.
This approach assists us to remember why we contest elections, because in our Ready to Govern policy document we argued that:
“Past minority governments and the current apartheid regime have pursued active political and social policies which, amongst other things, have led to: extreme levels of poverty and disease in the rural areas; the creation of urban ghettos where people have been denied even the most basic means of survival as a result of severely limited access to decent homes, electricity, water-borne sewerage, tarred roads, and recreational facilities; an education system preparing the majority of South Africans for lives of subordination and low wage jobs…”
This and other considerations laid the basis for contesting elections with the intention of using the democratic state to reverse the above legacies of the past minority governments. Therefore, when we sit for an elections strategy workshop 31 years later after adopting our policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa, we need to first assess how far we have gone in transforming the above conditions of our people that were created by past minority governments. So that if we agree, through our honest reflections, that the situation our people found themselves in 31 years ago through the rule of minority governments is still relatively the same, the work to change those situations should be focus of our election strategy.
I am saying comrades, the ANC’s strategy to win elections should be premised first and foremost on transforming the lived realities of our people. Our strategy should be based on creating jobs and economic opportunities for the vast majority of our people, especially the youth, who are exposed and vulnerable to poverty and disease. Our strategy should be anchored on creating decent human settlements where all our people have access to basic means of survival such as water, electricity and adequate recreational facilities. It should be grounded on creating an education that prepares our youth for entry in the productive activities in the economy through entrepreneurship, innovation and decent jobs.
If we do this, we will come out of this workshop with a strategy that will strengthen the ANC as a leader in the implementation of a practical programme of social change and a movement rooted among the people as advanced in our Strategy and Tactics document.
As we develop this strategy we must bear in mind that our Strategy and Tactics direct us to work with African and global progressive forces to advance human development in our country. As such, our approach to elections must enhance the work we are doing and ties we are forging with progressive African and global partners for our developmental needs.
Our analysis of the balance of forces point out to the changing balance of power towards the creation of a multipolar order that we have always fought for. There is a notable shift from Western dominance towards the global south as seen through the increased efforts to strengthen cooperation platforms such as BRICS, with many countries from the South expressing interest to join.
We are seeing rising opposition to the hegemony of the US dollar in the world economy and a shift from trade backed by the dollar towards trade backed by currencies of countries. There is an increase of global criticism on the role played by dominant financial institutions such as the International Monitory Fund and the World Bank and calls for more investment into developmental banks.
These positive developments are an indication of favorable balance of forces in the globe and for us to take advantage of in our quest to build more progressive international blocks but also for our own interests as a nation and the province. This is why we have been hard at work ensuring that we strengthen our ties with Embassies in the country and aggressively follow up on our existing twinning agreements with other countries.
We understand our efforts will be met with resistance, especially the work we are doing to create and cement economic relations with countries in the Global South. At times there will be increased undue criticism even from within, with narratives that are quite unfortunate, ignorant and that have an effect of dampening our work and relations with these countries. We will not be deterred. We will not be intimidated against forging international ties that have mutual economic benefit and that have the interest of our people and our province at the center of our deliberations. However, we do agree that our messaging and communications work needs to be enhanced so that we enjoy the confidence of the whole people in the work we are doing. This is an important point to make as other role players are seeking to use these relations for cheap electioneering by distorting facts and misrepresentations.
Comrades, we are seeing the results of our interventions in growing and transforming our economy to serve the people. In the Quarter 1 Labour Force Survey results released this week the unemployment rate in our province is down by 2.1 of a percentage point to 40.0 %. It further held that we had 43 000 new jobs in the formal sector and 17 000 new jobs created in the informal sector as contributors to the drop in the unemployment rate. This is in addition to work done by the sixth term of government which has attracted a cumulative investment totaling R171.45 billion for our province.
Though this is applaudable, a lot more needs to be done as we have always argued that a thriving economy in a national democratic society requires an economy shorn of the racial and gender exclusions that characterized apartheid colonialism and freed from the barriers to entry and competition that the economy endured under colonial capitalism.
We have always held that this needs an ethical , capable and developmental state that will use its capacities to direct national development through fiscal redistribution, utilization of State-owned Enterprises and effective regulation. It must use its capacities to direct public and private investments towards underdeveloped areas in the country as a result of apartheid and colonial legacies along with weaknesses of the democratic dispensations.
Local government is glaringly missing the space of investment promotion. Our approach to elections should seek to change this and ensure that our comrades deployed to the local government sphere prioritize investment promotion through complementing work done in the national and provincial space and their own efforts. This is the space that has land, spatial framework and regulations that can either promote or drive away investments.
We are working around the clock on the implementation of all mega projects in our province, namely: N2 Wild Coast Highway, Mzimvubu Water Project, Eastern Cape Transnet initiatives (Ports and Rail), N2 Nodal Development, Undersea cables, and Wild Coast SEZ.
We are engaging the Seta’s to invest more in skills development programmes in the province. Currently there are only five Seta’s operating in the province out of 22. Our aim is to get over 20 000 young people trained in various skills to be ready for the labour market or to become entrepreneurs. We recently had successful engagements with number of Setas and we must all look keenly at the pronouncements we are going to make soon that will benefit thousands of young people in the province who are unemployed and in need of training.
Comrades, this elections strategy workshop must conduct an honest assessment of our relationship with the drivers of change or otherwise known as motive forces of the National Democratic Revolution. We must be honest that the motive forces of the NDR are losing trust in the ANC, a reality we need to address.
We need to scale up our work on building safer communities and intensify the fight against crime and corruption. An elections strategy workshop that will conclude without a concrete programme to address the problem of women and other vulnerable that continue to live in fear mainly because of men, will be fruitless and futile. We must address the scourge of GBV and femicide not for election purpose but because of our responsibility to end the scourge as part of our fight against patriarchal relations of power. We are addressing the problem of coordination of government response to the scourge and the fight against crime which remains a huge challenge. We cannot win the fight against the scourge without a well-coordinated response from government, private sector, the civil and non-governmental sectors.
Let me conclude by stressing on the importance of unity and renewal of our organization ahead of the battle we are heading for in the next national general elections. It will be naive to go to next year’s elections with a divided and fragmented ANC. We have worked very hard to have the unity and cohesion we enjoy today. We cannot afford to allow anyone to threaten that unity we have built over the years. We have elected leadership in the past regional, provincial and national conferences, our responsibility is to support and rally behind that leadership till the end of their terms of offices.
Let us swell ranks and isolate any attempt to sow divisions within the leadership and membership of the ANC in the province, as this will be self-defeating especially for the elections, we are hoping to win convincingly next year. We must focus all our energies on the fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality which will remain our biggest pillar of our election’s strategy.
Thank you very much comrades.