Ramaphosa says unity is vital for the ANC
Ramaphosa says in the past decade, state capture, corruption, and failed leadership has reversed the country's gains.
President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC’s provincial conference in Gauteng. Picture: ANC/Twitter
The African National Congress (ANC) leader and state President Cyril Ramaphosa said unity within the party’s ranks is vital as it would keep the organisation strong and would ensure it remains in “the forefront of the struggle for liberation”.
The president was giving the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Sunday night as the late anti-apartheid struggle icon would have turned 82-years-old this past week.
Ramaphosa said the governing party acknowledged during its 54th elective conference last year that in the last couple of years – during his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s tenure – the country has not progressed as fast as it should have.
“In fact, the last decade has seen many of the gains of the early years of our democracy reversed through state capture and corruption, a failure of collective leadership, policy uncertainty, and a growing distance between the people and their government,” Ramaphosa said.
Accepting the concerning erosion of the governing party’s values and confronting difficult questions about the quality and integrity of its leadership is what Ramaphosa said the organisation has had to deal with during Zuma’s time at the helm.
“We have acknowledged these weaknesses and are determined that we should learn from our mistakes,” Ramaphosa said.
The ANC president said the party came out of last year’s conference with a clear mandate to build a social compact for growth, jobs, and fundamental transformation.
“It is a mandate to end corruption and strengthen public institutions, ensuring honest and effective leadership in SOEs [state-owned enterprises], departments, and municipalities, as well as agencies that serve the nation like Sars [South African Revenue Services], law enforcement institutions, as well as institutions like the national prosecuting authority.”
He added that the ANC came out of its conference last year with a mandate of reforming and repositioning these institutions as well as ridding them of corruption and ensuring these institutions serve the interest of the people.
As a way of honouring of Madikizela-Mandela and celebrating her legacy, Ramaphosa said the ANC must reaffirm to building the party and restoring its principles and values.
“Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was firmly committed to the unity of the African National Congress. She understood that this was vitally necessary if the ANC was to remain at the forefront of the struggle for liberation.”
Madikizela-Mandela had despaired at any signs of division, factionalism, or conflict within the ranks of the ANC, Ramaphosa added: “She was deeply disturbed by the effect that the contestation for positions and resources had on the ability of the ANC to advance the interests of the people.”
Unity, Ramaphosa said, is what Madikizela-Mandela believed to should be a priority for the ANC because the party would derive its strength from it.
“As the ANC prepared for [its 54th elective conference], she [Madikizela-Mandela] was foremost among the elders of our movement who urged an end to disunity and called on all leaders to settle whatever differences they may have in the interests of the ANC and the country.”
Madikizela-Mandela had been foremost among those who celebrated the clear decision taken at the party’s conference last year that the party should make a decisive break with negative tendencies that had set in within the party, and to embark on a programme of rebuilding, renewal, and unity, Ramaphosa said.
“As we meet to honour Mama Winnie, as we celebrate her legacy, we must reaffirm our shared responsibility to build the ANC as a more effective instrument in the hands of the people.
“We must work as one to restore the principles and values of the great leaders of our movement, who taught us the meaning of integrity, honesty, sacrifice, selflessness and service. As we do so, there is no better role model than Mama Winnie,” Ramaphosa said.
Unity within the party was the focus of the ANC NEC three-day meeting held at the weekend, the party’s president said.
“Every day, the leadership of the ANC is finding unity among one another. It is up to us to pick up the baton and make the ANC the leader of society and the true parliament of the people.”