Durban – African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday told thousands of supporters that the governing party should not take for granted the successes it had achieved since South Africa first became a democratic state.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the ANC's 107th anniversary celebrations and the launch of the party's 2019 election manifesto at the filled to capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which saw supporters arriving as early as 6 am.
The annual anniversary statement is used to outline the ANC's priorities for the next year while the manifesto is long-term and is presented before elections every five years. The documents are both used in outlining and formulating government policy.
“Much has been achieved over the last year and we have established a firm foundation for growth and renewal across society. The progress we have made is by no means irreversible. We cannot take the successes we have achieved for granted,” said Ramaphosa.
He called on ANC structures and broader society to “strengthen our resolve and maximise our unity” in pursuit of radical social and economic transformation. He said the party acknowledged that it had fallen short of expectations “over a number of years”.
The reasons for the declining confidence were critically and thoroughly discussed at the 54th national conference held in December 2017 and a programme was adopted to correct the mistakes.
“The ANC has begun to self-correct. We ask you to walk this path of self-correction and renewal with us. Let us be each other’s guides on this journey. We will appeal with all humility to the South African people to once again express their confidence in the ANC to lead society in pursuit of shared growth, job creation, radical economic and social transformation, and national unity,” he said.
Ramaphosa also spoke extensively about job creation and a transformed, inclusive economy.
“We are tasked with restructuring an economy that currently excludes the majority of South Africans. We need to mobilise domestic and international investment while we work with greater effort to unleash the economic potential of all our people – especially youth and women – by ensuring they have skills, assets, and opportunities,” he said.
This would require intensified efforts to restore investor confidence and the confidence of the business sector and consumers. Policy consistency and certainty and rooting out public sector corruption were pivotal to restoring confidence, he said, as was improving competitiveness.
“We will deliberately and consciously use government’s massive procurement spend to further our economic transformation objectives and support job creation and localised re-industrialisation,” he said.
Raising R1.2 trillion in investment over five years remained a priority as it would drive job creation, eradicate poverty, and build a more equal society.
“Central to the recovery plan is the intensification of infrastructure construction and maintenance, to provide social and economic services, create jobs, expand the infrastructure supplier industries, draw in the private sector, and bring to life the continental plans for African economic integration,” he said.