Johannesburg - The ANC’s week-long mobilisation and election campaign paid dividends on Saturday with tens of thousands turning up for a manifesto rally that highlighted the party’s support in KwaZulu-Natal.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday appealed to South Africans to give the ANC another chance to govern ahead of the upcoming elections, saying the party under his leadership last year had reversed its regressive practices.
Delivering the ANC’s annual January 8 statement at the party’s 107th anniversary at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday where he detailed the party’s plan for the year ahead - Ramaphosa said both the party and the country had entered an era of renewal under him.
The Moses Mabhida Stadium was a sea of black, green and gold as ANC members from all over the country descended on Durban for the climax of a week of ANC festivities.
The 85000-seater stadium was packed, with thousands more at People’s Park. Former president Jacob Zuma received applause as he made his way to the stage, even taking the time to dance with Umkhonto we Sizwe military veterans before he took his seat on the stage.
Gracing the ANC’s big day were political parties from neighbouring countries including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Lesotho and the Palestinian national political party Fatah.
The ANC also officially launched its manifesto for the general elections, which are scheduled for May.
In a show of unity by the party, which has been battling challenges of disunity, no booing took place during the speech, despite threats that party supporters sympathetic to former president Jacob Zuma would disrupt Ramaphosa’s address.
Ramaphosa said the ANC leadership under him had made progress in its efforts to restore the integrity and credibility due to allegations of maleficence, including corruption and state capture.
“Where necessary, we have taken measures to deal with cadres who have undermined the integrity of the movement and the ethical standards expected of public representatives and ANC leaders.
“This is among the most difficult of organisational tasks, but we remain resolute in our efforts to stamp out deviant and abhorrent practices,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the ANC-led government had taken bold steps to confront corruption and state capture through the establishment of various commissions and changes in the leadership of state-owned companies as part of restoring public confidence.
“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 said while the ANC was proud of the progress that had been made, it had the duty to acknowledge that mistakes, which stalled some areas of transformation, had been made by the party.
“We must acknowledge that state capture and corruption have weakened several of our public institutions, undermined effective governance and contributed to the poor performance of our economy. We must also acknowledge that factionalism and patronage have diminished the ability of the ANC to lead the process of transformation and fulfil its mandate to the people,” he said.
Among key listed plans on the party’s statement for this year is the strengthening of internal unity, boosting of economic growth and transformation through use of government procurement, restoration of investor confidence and collaboration with the private sector.
“Radical socio-economic transformation requires greater financial inclusion, which, among other things, demands more diverse ownership of the financial sector and a greater role for state and co-operative banks.
“We are working with the social partners to put in place a new compact with clear targets and commitments,” Ramaphosa said. SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande, said the ANC would need to unite if it wanted to win convincingly.
“It requires the unity of the ANC; the unity of each one of the components of our alliance, the unity of each one of our leagues and the unity of each one of the mass, sectoral and community organisations that support the success of our shared programme,” Nzimande said.