The ANC is a national liberation movement. It was formed in 1912 to unite the African people and spearhead the struggle for fundamental political, social and economic change.
The ANC's key objective is the creation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society.
This means the liberation of Africans in particular and black people in general from political and economic bondage. It means uplifting the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the poor.
The ANC is in an alliance with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). Each Alliance partner is an independent organisation with its own constitution, membership and programmes. The Alliance is founded on a common commitment to the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution, and the need to unite the largest possible cross-section of South Africans behind these objectives.
Author : Jacob Zuma
6 January 2013, Durban
National Chairperson of the ANC, Comrade Baleka Mbete,
Secretary General of the ANC, Comrade Gwede Mantashe,
Treasurer-General of the ANC, Comrade Dr Zweli Mkhize,
ANC Officials and national executive committee members,
Members of the diplomatic corps,
Artists and members of the media
Comrades and friends,
Fellow South Africans,
We have come together to close a significant part of our history, the celebration of 100 years of the ANC, which began on 8 January 2012.
We are a privileged generation to have been able to celebrate the ANC and the selfless struggles of the people of South Africa since 1912 under the leadership of this glorious movement.
Indeed, since 1912, this organisation has worked consistently to rid South Africa of colonialism, oppression, apartheid, racism, tribalism and sexism.
The organisation continues with its nation-building task, informed by the teachings of founding leaders like Pixley ka Isaka Seme who emphasised unity and spoke out about the need to eradicate the demons of racism and tribalism in 1911.
The centenary celebrations were a great success and have left an indelible mark in the memories of the vast majority of our people here at home and abroad.
Communities turned up in large numbers during Centenary flame ceremonies and these moving events reconnected many people with the ANC.
This has had the benefit of demonstrating how the history of every part of South Africa is inextricably linked to the history of the ANC.
Without wanting to sound arrogant, we state categorically that we cannot imagine a South Africa without the ANC!
Importantly, the centenary celebrations enabled us to reflect on the fact that thousands of people sacrificed a lot for freedom.
Many, including nationals of the then Frontline states, paid the ultimate price and laid down their lives for freedom and justice.
Scores inside the country died because of the cruelty of the system, which decreed that simply because they were black, they would receive inferior health care and living conditions. They were sentenced to a life of poverty and lower life expectancy.
It is for this reason that millions of our people have an emotional and deep-rooted attachment to the ANC.
The ANC reminds them of their painful past under colonialism of a special type. They remember their resilience and fighting spirit in the face of adversity, and the victory they gained in 1994 when their struggles led to the demise of what the United Nations declared a crime against humanity.
The ANC also remains the only hope for a better society and a better future, for thousands of the poor and the working class, and progressive sections of the middle strata of society.
Many wonder why the ANC has survived for 100 years.
It has survived because it was established by a nation in distress, responding to a national challenge, apartheid colonialism.
It is guided by the interests of the nation, it is a parliament of the people as described by President Oliver Tambo.
The ANC takes the trouble to clarify its policies, strategies and tactics which are continuously reviewed so that they reflect the changing situation in the land.
It has well built organisational structures that enable the movement to change with the times, and adapt to new conditions.
It has strong internal democratic processes, and empowers its cadres politically, through a culture of open and democratic debate on any matter.
It has a culture of working with progressive organisations of all types, which turned the movement into a leader of South African society.
More importantly, the ANC has always been able to attract into its ranks all South Africans, who have distinct capabilities necessary to push the revolution forward. This includes the most influential thinkers and talented individuals among the working class, middle strata and sections of big capital.
Although being a disciplined force of the left with a bias towards the poor and the working class, the ANC remains a broad church that welcomes all who share its mission and vision.
The ANC has survived because over the years it has invested in training and developing its own organic intellectuals academically and politically in order to be the leading school of progressive thought in our country. The ANC has survived because the people of South Africa have stood by it for 100 years, proud of the movement which brought about freedom and which is working with them to bring about a better life for all.
This domestic support is recognised beyond the borders of our country and has made the ANC the unique organisation that it is.
The movement was truly humbled by the remarks of the United Nations Secretary General Mr BAN Ki Moon at the commemoration of South Africašs contribution to the struggle against racism in September 2011 at the UN Headquarters in New York.
"The ANC is more than a political party. It is a movement - and a tangible expression of a vision.
"The commitment and sacrifice of its members led to the emancipation of a nation from racist colonial rule."
He went further to say:
"The power of the ANC lies not just in the numbers of people who vote for it, but the vision that it stands for. This has always been the movement`s strength, and it is this vision that the world looks to now".
On this historic occasion, we also acknowledge Africašs solidarity during our most difficult years. The Organisation of African Unity supported the ANC steadfastly through its liberation Committee.
The African Union resolved at its Summit in 2011 in Addis Ababa, to link the Centenary of the ANC and the anniversaries of other continental liberation movements to the recent celebration of the 50th Anniversaries of the independence of many African countries and to Africašs Shared Values.
The AU also called upon the international community to observe the Centenary of the ANC on 08 January 2012. We thank the AU for this kind fraternal gesture.
The recognition of our movement by the UN and the AU makes us appreciate the enormous responsibility that comes with being a 100 year old liberation movement and a ruling party. This is surely what the UN General Secretary had in mind when he said:
"The struggle for freedom, justice, human rights and the struggle against racism is a global battle. I see the ANC as the vanguard, not just in South Africa but throughout the continent and the globe."
The ANC has worked hard to earn this special place in the hearts of South Africans and the world. We must build on our successes as we move to the second phase of our revolution, the achievement of socio-economic freedom as well as the second centenary of our movement.
We have laid a firm foundation for democracy, based on the Constitution of the Republic. This Supreme law of the land was developed from ANC documents, amongst them the Bill of Rights of 1923, the African Claims of 1943 and the Freedom Charter in 1955.
Thus, the ANC remains the only true and honest defender and promoter of this supreme law of the land.
Guided by the Constitution, we are building a society where all our people have hope for a better future, regardless of their gender, colour, race or creed.
In this regard, the most urgent task facing us is to speed up the building of a national democratic society wherein all South Africans enjoy an improved quality of life, especially the working class and the poor.
Moving towards its second centenary, the ANC wants to deal decisively with poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The situation where white households have six times the income of black households as revealed by the 2011 Census, should become a thing of the past.
It is bad for reconciliation and nation building and all of us, black and white, must work to reduce and ultimate eradicate such a massive gap in the second phase of our countryšs revolution.
The youth is the future. We should together build a society where young people have a quality education, and are able to find jobs or create jobs in an economy that is growing.
To achieve these goals, the ANC must be ready to continue providing political, moral and intellectual leadership and to serve our nation in all the five pillars of social transformation: the organisation, the state, the economy, the international arena work and the ideological terrain.
That is why we committed ourselves in Mangaung to 10 years of cadre development and to unity. A united ANC is good for the country and good for our continent.
We have committed ourselves to 10 years of renewing the values of our movement - unity, selflessness, sacrifice, collective leadership, humility, honesty, discipline, hard work, internal debates and mutual respect.
We will outline all these measures further in the January 8 statement next Saturday on the 12th of January.
As we close the celebrations, we once again extend our gratitude to the anti-apartheid movement worldwide. These selfless freedom fighters disregarded borders when it came to fighting for human rights, justice and equality.
We thank the Alliance partners, business, traditional leaders, religious leaders, sections of the media, women and youth formations and every South African who contributed in various ways to the achievement of freedom in our land.
We thank all 1,2 million members of the ANC and the millions more who vote ANC during each election, giving this movement an opportunity to continue building a better South Africa.
Each day, all our members and supporters demonstrate that it is wonderful to be part of the ANC, and that it is even better to be its cadre and volunteer because you become part of history making.
We extend our gratitude to the ANC centenary team, under the capable leadership of ANC national chairperson, Comrade Baleka Mbethe for so efficiently carrying out the centenary programme.
Compatriots, as we begin our journey to 200 years of the ANC this year, let us be guided by the words of President Oliver Tambo who said the following;
"Let us arm ourselves with the willpower and fearlessness of Shaka; the endurance and vision of Moshoeshoe, the courage and resourcefulness of Sekhukhune; the tenacity and valour of Hintsa; the military initiative and guerrilla tactics of Maqoma, the farsightedness and dedication of S.P. Makgatho, Sol. Plaatje, Langalibalele Dube, Pixley Isaka Ka Seme, W.B. Rubusana, Meshach Pelem, Alfred Mangena, Paramount Chief Letsie II of Lesotho and all founding-fathers of the African National Congress``.
With these words, we now declare the ANC Centenary celebrations closed.