File image: President Jacob Zuma. IOL.

CAPE TOWN - Today marks D-Day for the 54th National Elective Conference (NEC) result outcome. We take a look at the previous NEC and the promises that were made there.

Just five years ago, the 53rd NEC was held in Mangaung in December 2012. 

The conference saw the re-election of Jacob Zuma to the party’s top leadership. 

This came after Zuma defeated his challenger and former President of South Africa, Kgalema Motlanthe. 

This saw Cyril Ramaphosa falling in line as Deputy President, who is now in the running to occupy the title of ANC President, along with Zuma’s wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. 

Let’s take a look at some of the promises made by previous ANC President and President of SA, Jacob Zuma upon his victory as ANC President at the 53rd NEC conference: 


1. Socio-economic Freedom

In his closing remarks to the 53rd NEC conference, Zuma emphasised the theme of “Unity in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom’’. 

“Comrades, we chose as a theme, Unity in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom, which demonstrates that we are ready for the task of radically transforming our society. That task will require a renewed and more vibrant ANC and Alliance”.

“As directed by conference, the incoming NEC will begin processes of implementing the directive of the 53rd conference to develop a 10 year programme for organisational renewal and the Decade of the Cadre”, said Zuma. 

The cadre deployment policy has been implemented by the ANC and its alliance partners in order to maintain its intention to have loyal party leaders on all the levers of power in government. 

This includes political education and training, promotion and accountability, recruitment, perservation and deployment and redeployment. 

However, according to the Economic Freedom of the World Index, SA has fallen down the ranks. 

Initially ranking 49th on the index in 1995, SA improved to 41st by 2001. 

Yet, since then, South Africa has seen its ranking slip fairly consistently from year to year. In 2015 the country was 93rd. 

Now, in the latest index released in September last year , South Africa had slipped to 105th out of the 159 countries ranked.

2. Skills development

Zuma promised skills development and education to everyone in his speech. 

“Comrades, as part of organisational renewal, the ANC will also lead by example by being the champion of education and skills development in this phase of the revolution”.

“We therefore call on every branch to strive, through the education campaign, to improve the literacy rate and general level of education and skills among the people in every ward”.

“Comrades, on the economy, we have declared that over the next five years, the ANC will take decisive and resolute action to overcome the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, which are at the heart of South Africa’s challenge”.

Despite the promises, SA’s unemployment rate stands at a stark 26.6%, the highest rate since September 2003. 

The country’s economic uncertainty and high unemployment rates has been attributed to political tensions and the cabinet reshuffle this year. 

“The recent political developments and the subsequent credit rating downgrades are perceived to have heightened policy uncertainty and further undermined business confidence. This suggest that the prospects for a meaningful recovery in private sector fixed investment and employment are poor,” said Investec economist, Kamilla Kaplan. 

READ: FACT SHEET: Ramaphosa vs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

3. Economy

The economy took a few hard knocks since the 53rd NEC, despite Zuma's promise of economic transformation. 

“The ANC government will therefore transform the structure of the economy through industrialisation, broad-based black economic empowerment, addressing the basic needs of our people, including women and youth as well as strengthening and expanding the role of the state”, said Zuma. 

In June this year, the country moved into recession for the first time in eight years. According to Stats SA, this came after SA showed negative GDP growth for a second consecutive quarter. 

Growth contracted by 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017, after recording negative growth of 0.3 percent in the last quarter of 2016.

The main contributor to this was the contraction of the trade, catering and accommodation industry by 5.9 percent over the period.

In addition to this, Zuma’s decision in 2016 to remove former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene from SA’s finance portfolio has shook the economy. 

This resulted in South Africa being downgraded to junk status by ratings agency, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) in November this year. 

4. National Development Plan

Finally, Zuma addressed the National Development Plan and its plans to ensure full employment and eradication of poverty. 

“More importantly, the ANC has at this conference welcomed and embraced National Development Plan as a critical basis for united action by all South Africans to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society”.

“Thus, our first main strategic task in period ahead is the comprehensive and democratic implementation of the National Development Plan”.

“It is a strategic task to ensure that by 2030 we attain full employment for our people, consequently eradicate poverty and significantly reduce inequality”.

“Some of the key programmatic contents of the NDP have already been put into motion in the last few years”.

“This relates to the new growth path, the state-led industrial policy as well as the huge social and economic infrastructure development. It also relates to our five priorities”.

“Our main strategic task will be to ensure that our people are organised and mobilised around the NDP as a bold plan in our struggle for nation-building and socio-economic emancipation”.

“We must ensure all sectors of the state and society are focussed on the vision and the implementation of the Plan as it is a Plan for all South Africans not the ANC alone”.

“We call upon members of the ANC, wherever they are deployed in cabinet, in communities, in provincial or local governments, to build on the message of the NDP”, said Zuma.

However, according to the 2013 General Household Survey, the percentage of people aged 20 years and older who had no education, or had completed some primary school below grade 7, had decreased from 19.3% in 2009 to 16.2% in 2013. 

This comes after the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s  efforts to increase funding for students who can study at TVET colleges or universities. 

According to NSFAS's annual reports, they provided funding worth R2.5-billion in 2008/09.

A spokesman for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, Kagisho Mamabolo, said that R9.2-billion worth of funding was provided in 2014. However, this excluded an additional R1-billion which was provided by the Department of Higher Education and Training to cover funding shortfalls in 2013 and 2014.

Zuma concluded his speech with words by former President Nelson Mandela by saying there is “no easy walk to freedom”. 

“There will certainly be no easy walk to socio-economic freedom, ngoba yinde lendlela esiyihambayo.Amandla!”

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