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Statement of the National Executive Committee on the occasion of the 88th Anniversary of the ANC

January 8, 2000

Fellow South Africans:

Today we mark the 88th anniversary of the African National Congress.

We celebrate our anniversary during a year that is being observed by the whole world as
the beginning of a new century and millennium.

It is therefore inevitable that we should treat this year, two years away from the 90th
Anniversary of the ANC, as a special year.

We have already said that we must, through our own efforts, make the 21st
Century an African Century.

We have also said that as from next year, the Year 2001, we should ourselves as a
Continent, launch the African Century and therefore observe that year as the Year for the
Beginning of the African Century.

Therefore, the question we must answer is – what tasks face our movement and
people as we prepare for the commencement of the African Century!

The first-ever Pan African Congress was held in London one hundred years ago, in the
year 1900.

At that historic Congress, which brought together Africans from the African Continent,
the United States and the Caribbean, the determination and clarion call was made:

The problem of the 20th Century is the problem of the colour line!

The twentieth century has experienced many problems.

These have included two world wars, the crime against humanity committed against the
Jewish people by Nazi Germany, the genocidal killings in Rwanda and Burundi and the
ravages brought about by colonialism, apartheid and neocolonialism.

But what was said at the Pan African Congress in 1900 proved to be very correct –
the problem of the 20th Century remained the problem of the colour line!

This eventful century failed to solve this problem.

As was the case a hundred years ago, the solution to this centuries old problem
constitutes a challenge both to ourselves as Africans and to the rest of humanity.

As we mark the Year 2000, our own determination and clarion call must be:

The challenge facing the 21st Century is the solution of the problem of the
colour line!

As the leaders of the African peoples and the peoples of African origin met in London a
century ago, the peoples they represented, except those in the Ethiopia, Liberia, Haiti
and the United States, were still in bondage.

The freedom of the slaves of the American South was less than four decades old and was,
in any case, severely compromised by continuing racial discrimination and oppression
throughout the United States.

A century later, the political circumstances of the black people have changed
radically. After major struggles everywhere, political liberation has been achieved.

Where she was colonised and oppressed in 1900, Africa in 2000 is free.

And yet the problem of the colour line, loudly and correctly proclaimed in 1900, has
not been resolved!

The complete emancipation of the peoples of Africa -

the heart of the problem of the colour line - has not yet been achieved.

Your organisation, the African National Congress, whose 88th anniversary we
celebrate today, is one of the premier movements for national liberation on our

Throughout the years of its existence, it has held high the banner in our own country
for the resolution of the problem of the colour line.

For decades, it has held in its hands the hopes of millions of Africans inside and
outside our country for genuine emancipation.

The question that faces this movement now, as we prepare to define the 21st
Century as an African Century, is what it should do to contribute to the realisation of
this goal!

But why is it that we say that the complete emancipation of the peoples of Africa has
not yet been achieved!

The people of Africa, including our own, continue to be immersed in poverty.

Millions of Africans continue to lose their lives as a result of preventable
diseases, including AIDS.

Millions of families cannot feed themselves because they have no jobs, no land
they can till and what they produce and sell cannot guarantee them a decent standard of

Millions have no possibility to live in conditions of freedom because we continue to
allow tyrannical regimes to impose themselves on us, especially those that carry

We have permitted some among us, as during our struggles for liberation, to become part
of the problem of the continuing suffering of the masses of our people rather
than being part of the solution, thus further complicating our possibility to advance.

Millions cannot live in conditions of safety and security because we give
the opportunity to some to impose wars on us, deny us the possibility to solve our
problems by peaceful means, and thrive as criminals who murder, rob and rape.

We have allowed big-time robbers to enrich themselves by corrupt means and at
the expense of millions of people who were already poor.

We have given space to those who do not care for the fundamental aspirations of the
people, to divide the people and divert them from their real and common
interests, by driving them to racism, narrow nationalism, tribalism, ethnicity,
regionalism and religious fanaticism.

We have accepted the creation of conditions as a result of which some of the best
African brains have left our Continent, choosing to settle in countries outside Africa
which were already more advanced than we are.

We the Africans, who led the ancient world in science, technology, intellectual
activity and the arts, have stood by as the rest of the world moved forward while we
regressed towards becoming a historical curiosity.

Whereas as a Continent we gave birth to all humanity, we are today seen as the least
advanced of all human societies anywhere in the world.

For a millennium, including the passing century, we have failed to destroy the
insulting and criminal prejudice which has described the black human complexion as
the very representation of everything that is sub-human within the human race.

We have not yet broken the feeling of defeat, surrender and lack of
initiative among some black people, which leads them to believe that, indeed, they are
not equal to other people who, though as human as they are, are nevertheless of a
different colour.

Much work remains to be done to ensure the emancipation of the women of Africa.
We could never say we have realised the objectives of the African Century if we do not
achieve this goal, which is a central element of the renewal of our Continent.

We have not won the struggle against racism – a defining element of the
problem of the colour line which the 20th Century failed to solve!

Thus does it become necessary and possible for us to say that:

The challenge facing the 21st Century is the solution of the problem of the
colour line!

On the occasion of its 88th anniversary, the question we must ask is –
what must the ANC do, this historic frontrunner of Africa’s movement for national
liberation, to discharge its own obligations to the cause of the complete emancipation of
the peoples of Africa, including our own!

We are now in the sixth year of our emancipation from the tyrannical system of

During the year of our 87th Anniversary, our Year of Mass Mobilisation
for the Renewal of the Democratic Mandate,
the masses of our people carried out the
principal political task we had set ourselves for that year.

The ANC was returned to power with a decisive majority.

Once more, we salute all members of the ANC, our Alliance, the rest of the
democratic movement as well as the millions of our people for helping us to achieve this historic

This success of our democratic movement, following on the strategic advances we made in
1994, created the false impression among some within our movement that the struggle
is over.

Accordingly, these began to act as though our only task as a movement was to win
elections and to share among the cadres of the movement the benefits of office.

Worse still, some others have used the opportunity to assume public office as an
opening for them to acquire wealth for themselves by corrupt means and not as
presenting a challenge to them and the movement as a whole to serve the people of South

Clearly, these are not people we can consider as activists of the transformation of the
21st Century into an African Century.

This year, as a movement, we must therefore take renewed steps to ensure that we rid
ourselves of these elements, that weaken our capacity to carry out our mission to
continue the struggle for the total emancipation of our people.

We must do this as part of one of our strategic tasks this year – the
strengthening of our movement, the ANC, so that it is able to play its proper role as one
of the architects of the African Century.

Apart from weeding out the corrupt elements from our ranks, to meet this strategic
task, we must also work to achieve two other goals.

One of these is that we must ensure that we rebuild all the structures of our
movement, concentrating especially on our branches.

The second of these is that we must implement a vigorous cadre development
programme to ensure that we have the necessary number of properly prepared cadres to
ensure that the ANC remains the agent of revolutionary change it has always been.

We must also make certain that these cadres, and the movement as a whole, are clear of
the tasks that they and the movement have to carry out.

The order of the day must be clearly spelt out and understood by all cadres and
activists so that they pursue the set tasks continuously and in all parts of the country.

All this work, further to strengthen our capacity to play our role in pursuit of the
African Century, must also include both the Women’s and the Youth Leagues.

This year we must also work hard to strengthen the Alliance, the rest of the
democratic movement of our country and radically improve our links with all these
important echelons of the broad progressive movement to which we belong.

The second strategic task we have to carry out is to ensure that we strengthen our
links with the masses of our people on a sustained and not a sporadic basis.

This will enable us to increase our understanding of the feelings, desires and
aspirations of these masses. It will also help us to carry out our leadership role better
and in manner that is responsive to the needs of our people.

The realisation of these goals will also enable us to address this year’s third
strategic task.

This third strategic task is the task of ensuring that the masses of our people are
mobilised to engage in active struggle and do not become passive recipients of the
positive results of the process of progressive change.

This must be done in such a way that we realise one of the fundamental goal of our
strategy and tactics of ensuring that our process of transformation is people-driven. The
masses of our people must continue to be the principal motive force of revolutionary

To carry out these second and third tasks requires that as a movement we should ensure
that all our members, activists and cadres actively participate in the implementation of
our programme of action.

The active and consistent implementation of our programme of action by all members and
structures of our movement therefore constitutes the fourth strategic task we must
accomplish this year.

That programme of action covers the issues we have mentioned already. These constitute
part of the unfinished agenda of the complete emancipation of our people and the sister
peoples of the rest of Africa.

Our task is to pursue these matters taking into account the specific circumstances
dictated by our own national conditions.

We must ourselves, by our own actions and the results we produce in our own country,
contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the African Century.

By this means, we should also win the confidence of the sister peoples of our Continent
that we are a serious and reliable partner in the struggle to achieve those

One of these goals is the further entrenchment of the system of democracy
both in our own country and our Continent.

During this year, in particular, this means that we should once again mobilise the
masses of our people to participate in the local government elections.

We must work to ensure that the people exercise their right and duty to choose their
representatives in this sphere of government, in the same way that they freely chose their
provincial and national representatives last year.

As we did last year, we must again work to ensure that the people renew the democratic
mandate of our movement by electing our candidates to lead the municipal governments
throughout our country.

In this regard, we must make sure that we field candidates who will genuinely represent
the interests of the people.

We should no longer allow that our movement is falsely represented by those who only
want to use their positions to enrich themselves and others, who once they are elected,
never go back to the people to report on their work as councillors.

More broadly, we must also take up the issue of corruption in government and the
public sector.

Again we must do this on a sustained basis to ensure that the corruption we inherited
from the apartheid system does not become entrenched in our democracy.

In this fight, we must continue to rely on the masses of our people who are our eyes
and ears with regard to this scourge which has done so much damage both in our country and
the rest of our Continent and slowed down the process towards fundamental social

Our government is also pursuing anti-poverty programmes focussed on the
poorest in our country. These include such areas as welfare disbursements, the school
nutrition programme, subsidised housing, programmes funded out of budgeted anti-poverty
funds, and so on.

All the structures of the movement, especially those at local and regional levels, have
a responsibility to ensure that all these resources actually reach the masses of the
people for whom they are intended.

It is therefore critically important that the movement structures we have mentioned
should get involved in monitoring the government’s performance in the areas we have

We should also assist to ensure that we continue to serve the interests of the millions
of our people who continue to suffer from poverty by helping the government to carry out
its tasks and not fall into the trap of setting ourselves up merely as vocal critics.

Similarly, our government has put in place programmes and is working on others further
to address the important issue of black economic empowerment and the growth and
development of our economy.

These include programmes for the development of small and medium business, support for
black farmers, affirmative action procurement policies, the critically important area
of integrated rural development as well as urban renewal.

All our structures must interest themselves in these programmes to ensure that the
financial and other resources that are being directed to our people actually reach them.

In this context, we must also intensify our interaction with the traditional leaders
in the rural areas, working with them to ensure that the people in their areas also have
the possibility to participate in the processes of socio-economic development to which we
are committed.

Once more, one of our aims must be that we assist both the government and the people
and not been satisfied merely to be critics of whatever may be wrong.

The development of primary health care has been one of the most important
programmes that we have implemented and pursued since we took over government in 1994.

This remains one of the most important pillars in our effort to ensure a better life
for the ordinary masses of our people. Once more, the structures of our movement must
concern themselves with all matters that relate to this important front of struggle.

This must include the mobilisation of our people properly to respond to the health
threats that confront us as a people.

These include the AIDS epidemic which, among other things, requires that we
change the habits of our people with regard to issues that relate to sexual behaviour and
life style.

We must also take up the matter of accidents and deaths on our roads. Too many
of our people are being maimed and killed as a result or reckless driving by many who use
our roads.

Clearly, the law will have to be strengthened to deal with the highway killers.

Nevertheless, as a movement, we will also have to do our work, throughout the year, to
raise the level of consciousness among all road users about the value of human life and
our common responsibility to protect life.

As a movement we must pay very serious attention to the question of education and
training. It is clear that our system of education is not producing enough of the
human resources we desperately need to ensure that we catch up with the most advanced
countries in the world.

We must therefore make our own contribution at all levels of education among other
things to encourage a culture of learning, teaching and discipline.

Similarly, we have to increase our interaction especially with the black intelligentsia
and professionals to encourage greater involvement on their part in the processes of
fundamental social transformation in which we are involved.

We should also reach out to those who live and work outside our country to draw on
their expertise.

All this will require that, among other things, we, together with the Leagues, strengthen
our organised presence within the educational sector.

Criminals continue to prey on our people and society, among other things raping
women and abusing children. We have to wage an all-out struggle against these

Of critical importance, we must educate and mobilise the masses of our people
themselves to participate in this offensive in a determined manner.

As the government continues to improve the quality of our law enforcement agencies and
the criminal justice system as a whole, we must also work to improve the cooperation
between the people and the Police Service.

The tasks ahead of us demand that we achieve the greatest possible unity of the
masses of our people, inspired by the new patriotism of which we have spoken in
the past.

But we also know that there are some both within our movement and in our society
generally who work to divide our people through the propagation of racism, tribalism,
regionalism and so on.

We must ensure that in our ideological, political and communication work we give no
quarter to these elements, which seek to advance their selfish interests by trying to
mobilise the people on the basis of reactionary and divisive platforms.

The movement as a whole must also focus on the issue of the struggle for the
emancipation of women.

We must ensure that we have specific programmes to ensure the greatest possible
involvement of the women themselves in all the processes of social transformation.

The preparations for and the holding of the National Conference of the Women’s
League later this year will give us the possibility properly to concentrate on this
strategic issue.

It will take our country a long time before it wipes out the apartheid legacy of
racism in our country.

More than many other people in the world, we know the destructive impact of the
ideology and practice of racism. We know also that many of the racist divisions,
imbalances and inequities created by the system of colonialism and apartheid remain with

We must therefore continue to intensify the struggle against racism for our evolution
into a non-racist society, a central part of the historic mission of the ANC from its

Among other things, consideration should be given to convening a National Congress
Against Racism this year.

This would enable us to have a broad-based programme of action against the cancer of
racism as we enter the first year of the African Century.

During this past year we joined the Socialist International, the biggest
of all the international

political associations.

This has strengthened our relations with some of the most progressive political forces
both in Africa and the rest of the world.

At the same time, it has increased the challenge we face as a movement ourselves to
interact more actively with our African and international partners in the effort to build
a more just world order.

During this year, as our fifth strategic task, we will have to respond to this
challenge by working for the development of a strong all-Africa movement for the pursuit
of the objectives of the African Century.

We will also have to work to develop the broadest possible international understanding
and support for these objectives.

At the same time we will have to work to mobilise other sectors of our democratic
movement themselves to work with their counterparts in Africa and the rest of the
world as part of our country’s united offensive for the rebirth of our country and
Africa as a whole.

As we have said before, among other things, we must intensify the struggle to ensure
that by the end of the Year 2000, all countries on our Continent are at peace and that
none of our countries is ruled by a military regime.

For almost nine decades, the masses of our people have placed their hopes on the ANC to
free them from the great suffering imposed on them by the failure finally to resolve the
problem of the colour line.

As we are about to commence the African Century, these masses, both black and white, as
well as many other people on our Continent and the rest of the world, are confident that
we will not fail to discharge our responsibilities in the concerted struggle for Africa’s

We commend the programme of action contained in this ANC Anniversary Statement to all
our members, supporters and our people as a whole.

It must constitute our order of the day as we mark the Year 2000 as the Year
of the Dawn of the African Century.

The struggle continues! Victory is certain!

Amandla ngawethu! Matla ke a rona! Matimba a hina!