/ 13 January 2018

8 things you should know about the ANC’s January 8 statement

(Paul Botes/M&G)
(Paul Botes/M&G)

With the advent of social media and streaming sites like YouTube, one would be forgiven for tapping out 30 minutes into Cyril Ramaphosa’s one and a half hour long delivery of the ANC’s January 8 statement. So here are eight points you should probably know, and will most likely see cropping up later in the year.

1. The year of Nelson Mandela

With the 2019 elections approaching, the ANC will make sure it capitalizes on the legacy of former president and late statesman Nelson Mandela, by remembering his contribution to securing the South African democracy and uniting the party. The ANC has declared 2018, the year of Nelson Mandela to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday.

Madiba’s name was scattered across most of the January 8 statement, with new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa saying that Madiba would be happy the event started on time and stressing the need to return to his focus on non-racialism.

“This country needs to unite, we need to work together in a way in which Madiba brought the country together, we need to bring it together again. Everybody must feel they belong and everybody must feel that this is about the nation, it’s not about corrupt people,” Reverend Frank Chikane, former director general in the presidency, told the M&G.

2. Unity or else

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa warned ANC members that they will be summoned to Luthuli House to explain why they are sowing divisions. Ramaphosa has stressed that the new national executive committee should speak with one voice and he will not hesitate to call ANC members to explain their actions.

The party has dedicated 2018 to uniting its structures the “broader mass democratic movement,” which basically refers to the same non-governmental organisations and religious groups that the previous ANC leadership lamented for their call on president Jacob Zuma to resign.

3. South Africa must be a healthy nation

Just as Ramaphosa did on the morning of the first NEC meeting, South Africans must jog. In fact, they must run and exercise regularly so that we create a healthy nation. The January 8 statement raised alarms about the listeriosis outbreak which, with 750 confirmed cases, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is calling the largest-ever outbreak, as well as the continued HIV/Aids pandemic.

“We are alarmed by the dramatic growth of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases. We need to launch a sustained national campaign against cancer and intensify our efforts to reduce smoking, alcohol and sugar consumption,” the statement read.

4. We’re taking the land, whether you like it or not

The ANC is intent on pushing ahead with its resolution to expropriate land without compensation. Arguably one of its most controversial resolutions from the national conference, the ANC has said it needs to take back the land, whether South Africans like it or not.

But the resolution is sightly watered down by the conditions that expropriation should not happen if it will harm the economy, jeopardise food security or agriculture.

5. South Africa is open for investment

Touted as a pro-business candidate ahead of the ANC’s national conference, Ramaphosa plans to follow through on this perception by securing investment from people who were too skeptical sign deals under Zuma’s administration.

The January 8 statement sets out regulatory certainty as a key priority and acknowledged that “Our economy has also been severely undermined by corruption and state capture, institutional instability, policy inconsistency, poor performance of state-owned enterprises and a sense of drift within the ANC.”

But with Ramaphosa’s election as president, the ANC said it has “noted indications from a number of investors who are expressing renewed confidence in our country and are looking at new investments that would lead to job creation.”

6. The ANC’s gunning for state capture architects

The announcement of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture by president Jacob Zuma was just the first step towards ending state capture. Ramaphosa hammered home the need to improve the state of the security structures in government, which include the intelligence services, police and the Hawks.

The ANC in its statement also sent a clear signal that it intends on taking steps to criminally prosecute those implicated by the inquiry.

“We shall confront corruption and state capture in all the forms and manifestations that these scourges assume. This includes the immediate establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture. The investigation and prosecution of those responsible will be given top priority,” the statement read.

7. Zuma was booed, again

It happened four times. Again and again. At the slightest mention of his name, or the sight of his face on the big screens. “Booooooo!” It got so bad that Ramaphosa had to tell the ANC members and supporters at the rally that this was not the time for disrespecting people.

The booing so clearly irritated the ANC’s new leadership that even national chairperson Gwede Mantashe admonished those in attendance for their antics.

Never the less, the message was clear: The ANC members are sick of Zuma. And they aren’t afraid to let him know it.

8. Private sector must create jobs and stop hiding corruption

The ANC expects big business to sign commitments to creating jobs. The party envisions a new social pact (similar to the NDP) that will compel private businesses to create jobs and invest in the economy.

The ANC has complained about a so-called investment strike in the private sector for two years, and now the January 8 statement said it plans to “forge a social pact between government, labour, business and communities urgently to reignite economic growth”

“While this social pact will be wide-ranging, it will need to focus in particular on youth unemployment, whose devastating impact on young people is cause for major concern,” the statement said.

Ramaphosa, going off script, also took a swipe at private sector corruption.

“In the private sector they decorate [corruption], they call it collusion, they call it financial irregularity, they call it corrections and all those things. It is the same thing. It is corruption.