The month of October is associated with bravery as many events that shaped the direction of this country happened in October.
- The Rivonia Trial, officially known as the State versus Mandela and Others began on October 9, 1963 and lasted a total of 86 days.
- On October 17, 1963 Rev Arthur William Blaxall was charged under the Suppression of Communism Act. He was accused of assisting SACP and the ANC.
- ANC leader Walter Sisulu was arrested on October 17 for not being in possession of a reference book.
- On October 15, 1973 a racial segregation legislation was extended by the South African government to include private gatherings.
- In October 1977 about eight organisations and three newspapers that advanced the Black Consciousness Movement were banned by the apartheid government.
The other most significant development that took place in October was a referendum on whether South Africa should remain a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations or become a republic.
Africans were not allowed to vote in their country of birth. Only whites were allowed to vote as this was the legislation of the right-wing National Party.
About 1.6 million people voted. About 850 458 voted in favour of (the) republic and 775 878 voted against. Here in Natal as it was called then, 42 299 voted in favour of the republic and 135 598 voted against.
Fast forward to October 2023, we are preparing for the review of the 2019 ANC Manifesto. The provincial event has been scheduled to take place at Harry Gwala Stadium in Moses Mabhida Region on October 8.
As a party leading the government of the day we will assess whether priorities outlined in our manifesto in 2019 have been achieved. We will assess our weaknesses and strengths as we prepare for the national general elections.
In everything we do, we understand that the objective of the National Democratic Revolution championed by the pathfinders of this freedom such as Moses Mabhida, Harry Gwala, Mhlabunzima Maphumulo and many more others from Umgungundlovu, was to ensure the transformation of society and the creation of a better life for all our people.
We are cognisant of the fact that the dawn of freedom created various conditions under which we pursue the same goal.
Conditions of freedom and democracy mean that the ANC as a ruling party, representing the majority of the people of our country, has the responsibility to preside over the resources of the public to improve their lives. This makes the poor people and the majority of all South Africans to be the main and only focus for the ANC as the leading party in government.
ANC leaders deployed to all spheres of government have a responsibility to ensure the ANC-led government delivers. This responsibility lies in the hands of the ANC members primarily more than it does with the opposition. This is how the ANC has approached governance in this province since 2019.
The apartheid government was not accountable to the masses. It is for these reasons that as the governing party, we are going back to the masses to assess our performance.
The ANC fought for the participation of ordinary members of society in governing this country. Accordingly, the ANC runs an activist provincial legislature that has strong oversight responsibility over the executive.
We witnessed over the past five years, the legislature creating platforms for dialogue through sectoral parliaments for the people by hosting senior citizens, youth, the disabled, women, workers in the legislature and open discussion with the leaders in government.
This improved communication and helped people to table matters for attention and seek solutions on matters of service delivery.
Over the past five years, the provincial government conducted Operation Sukuma Sakhe outreach programmes. The premier and MECs visited all communities to deliver services that many of our people had been waiting for.
This was a clear demonstration of our commitment to bridge the gap between the ANC government and the people on the ground.
We committed ourselves to building a team of motivated cadres of civil servants, willing to work very hard together to improve the lives of all our people.
The ANC manifesto review will therefore give us the opportunity to assess the state of service delivery in this province.
Siboniso Duma is the KwaZulu-Natal ANC chairperson.