The African National Congress (ANC) has a long and proud tradition of introspection, critical analysis and regenerating itself. This tradition is one of the underlying reasons for holding a regular National General Council (NGC) to review the implementation of our policies and also, to critically reflect on the overall performance of the ANC.
The ANC undertook this review cognizant of the changing balance of forces, the global economic crisis and all other challenges that the Movement must confront in bringing about radical, positive change to the social and economic realities of ordinary South Africans.
One of the most rewarding outcomes of this NGC is that ANC members demonstrated ongoing and renewed commitment to strengthening this glorious Movement. This is evident in stories such as that of comrade Primrose Mbenene, the Boland Ward Chairperson. She missed the pre-arranged bus and hitchhiked, for two days, all the way from Paarl to Johannesburg to attend the NGC. Comrade Primrose is but one example of the millions of dedicated and committed members and supporters of the ANC.
Delegates to the NGC sent a strong message that we must defend the essential character of the ANC, that of being unashamedly pro-poor, a progressive and internationalist organization of the Left. The ANC must remain rooted amongst the people and continue to give effect to its working class bias.
The NGC was unequivocal that ” (p)ractices and tendencies inconsistent with the values of the African National Congress threaten the effectiveness of our movement as an instrument for liberation.”
In line with this renewed resolve, the NGC took many decisions to return the ANC-cadreship to our core values and strengthen discipline, address practices such as corruption, factionalism, buying of members and gate-keeping. There was recognition that the ANC must increase political education at all levels and that branches must be actively engaged in political work and involved in their communities.
Delegates to the NGC and other members of the ANC are adamant that the ANC must address corruption, perceptions of corruption and all other tendencies that affect the standing of the Movement. The NGC was clear that the Integrity Commission must be strengthened and better resourced to enable it to fulfill its renewed mandate. Delegates were clear that the Integrity Commission will now be empowered to make binding determinations and that protecting the integrity and standing of the ANC is paramount.
The NGC also directed that the formalization of lobby groups and the promotion of slates will be disciplinary offences.
The ANC is resolute that the struggle for economic freedom is on course, but that we must move with greater speed and urgency to make sure that all our people benefit from our political freedom. Recognizing the impact of the global economic crisis, i.e. low economic growth and depressed commodity prices, the NGC highlighted that we must mitigate job losses and create new opportunities. We shall concentrate our efforts in areas such as localization, SMME support and procurement set-asides. The NGC also agreed that we must speed up efforts to increase ownership and working of the land, as integral parts of economic transformation.
Whilst acknowledging that overall levels of crime have decreased, the ANC is very concerned about the stubbornly high rates of violent crime. The NGC asked that all members of the community join hands with the South African Police Service and broader criminal justice system in addressing crime. Delegates stressed that there must be particular steps to combat police killings.
The ANC remains committed to internationalism and the promotion of peace and friendship throughout the world. The NGC directed that government must review South Africa’s participation in the International Criminal Court, in line with the ongoing processes under the auspices of the African Union.
Freedom of expression and press freedom are fundamental principles of democracy and the ANC values, protects and promotes these hard-won freedoms. Equally, the ANC wants to stress that freedom brings responsibilities and duties to respect the rights and freedoms of others in society. It is precisely for these reasons, that the NGC directed that there must be a parliamentary enquiry on the feasibility and desirability of a Media Appeals Tribunal.
This NGC directed that ANC branches must be empowered to truly play a deciding and catalytic role in organizational life. This is a return to ANC practices and values of old and an embodiment of our belief of all power to the people.
It is undeniable that the 2015 was disciplined, a great forum for robust and constructive debate and a resounding success.
The ANC lives! The ANC leads!
Comrade Jeff Radebe is a member of the ANC NEC and Chairperson of Policy Subcommittee