Zuma on the state of South Africa

Jacob Zuma, Politicsweb, 5 March 2008

Speech delivered in Sandton, Johannesburg, March 4 2008.

The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Dr Goldstein, Distinguished guests,

Good evening to you all. It is wonderful to be able to share this occasion with you.

I would like to congratulate the Office of the Chief Rabbi for initiating such a useful forum for dialogue.

Our topic tonight is arguably on the minds of many South Africans.

To understand the future of our country, it is necessary to understand something of the past.

There are certain unique aspects of our struggle, which inform the kind of society we are today. For example, despite the racist nature of the repression we suffered, in 1955 we declared that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both black and white.

We said that people of different racial or ethnic origin, or religious persuasion could and must unite in a common chain to liberate our country from a brutal form of oppression. That declaration of a common nationhood is today enshrined in our Constitution.

Very early on in our liberation struggle many white compatriots joined the growing ranks of the oppressed people in the struggle against apartheid. They were guided either by religious conviction, a deep-seated belief in justice and human rights, Marxist socialist ideas or other motivating factors.

Many of these white compatriots were Jewish. They were horrified by the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis. They knew what human suffering meant, and swore to fight the scourge of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination, wherever it was found.

We want to salute the many brave comrades and compatriots of Jewish descent, who sacrificed their professions, families and their lives to create our new democratic order.

There are countless such patriots, such as Joe Slovo, Ruth First, Jack and Ray Simons, the Buntings, Wolfie Kodesh, Dennis Goldberg, and many, many others.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are now entering the 14th year of our democracy. As you are aware, the African National Congress was largely instrumental in the formulation and the final adoption of our new democratic Constitution.

In the many years that we have been in government, we have worked hard to uphold and strengthen the fundamental principles in our country's Constitution. That should assure all that the democratic future of the country is secure. Why would the ANC seek to destroy something it has worked so hard to build?

Part of the cornerstone of our country's constitution and democratic culture is the respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, which we uphold and which will always protect and defend. We are also equally determined to ensure that the organs of state are never used to manipulate the political environment of our country.

History is pock marked with countries that become failed states because or lack of a separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary, leading to inadequate checks and balances.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 52nd conference of the ANC in Polokwane clearly demonstrated the democratic ethos and the transparent character of our movement. The membership demonstrated that nobody is above the organization, and upheld the principle of accountability and free choice.

What sometimes causes the panic and uneasiness is the talk of a "new leadership" in the ANC. We need to remember that many of the leaders elected at Polokwane are seasoned cadres of the liberation movement. They are not new at all; they know the ANC through and through.

They are determined to deepen the movement's focus on the poor and marginalized, but obviously not to the total exclusion of other constituencies.

What should also provide certainty for the future is the fact that the ANC is a 96 year old organization with clear policies, guidelines, culture and traditions.

To domestic investors or anyone who wants to do business with our country, the ANC Alliance provides predictability, consistency and certainty.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved a lot as a country over the last 13 years. Millions more of our people have houses, access to water, electricity, education, health care and other services.

At the same time, we are also faced with many challenges, the most pressing of which are unemployment, poverty and inequality.

To substantially reduce social and economic inequality, we need high levels of quality economic growth which should allow us to produce opportunities for decent work as a weapon against poverty.

Many families are still trapped in poverty, despite being recipients of social assistance. The ANC government has scored remarkable achievements in extending social grants to 12, 4 million South Africans, 8 million of whom are children.

At the Polokwane conference, we stated clearly that we are building a developmental state and not a welfare state. Our intention is to empower people to take themselves out of poverty, while creating adequate social nets to protect the most vulnerable. Our policy is that grants must not create dependency and must be linked to economic activity.

Today the ANC is leading on the implementation of policies that will secure the growth of our economy and will eradicate poverty. Our vision for growth has at its core a programme to develop skills that we need to ensure that we are the engineers of our future and that it is South Africans who will own the process and the success of our future.

This cannot and must never exclude people who are willing to invest in the future of our country. We are a large economy on the African continent. We stand at 23% of the overall average GDP for Africa.

Our neighbours depend on our continued growth to ensure that we all develop economically.

Regarding crime, we have spoken of setting up structures that we had during the mass democratic movement, such as street committees, to assist the law enforcement agencies. We have instructed our branches to carry out this task in both urban and rural areas.

Our hardworking policemen and women are doing the best they can, but they need our support.

Another challenge we face is that of HIV and AIDS. The ANC government is also prioritizing treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS.

Our conference resolutions speak clearly of the need to accelerate the roll-out of the comprehensive health care programmes, such as through the provision of anti-retroviral drugs at all health facilities. At the same time, we added that we should strengthen capacity to monitor the side-effects of the ARVs.

Also important are the home based care programmes as well as the promotion of the human rights aspects of the HIV and AIDS programme to protect the infected and affected from stigmatization and marginalization.

Prevention programmes are no doubt the most effective weapon against HIV and AIDS. Compatriots, above all, we will continue to uphold the constitutional principles of our democratic order, and fight the scourge of racism that rears its head every now and again.

The future of South Africa is a non-racial and non-racist one, and we cannot allow anyone to jeopardize what we have achieved. I have not yet had the opportunity to interact with the University of the Free State, the affected workers, accused students and their parents.

From media reports, we can say that what happened at the university last week is a stark reminder to all of us that you cannot defeat racism overnight. It is a struggle that we must all wage collectively to build a non-racial society.

The energy crisis has fortunately been dealt with adequately by both the ANC as the ruling party and its government. I think the whole country has rallied around this challenge, and because of that unity in purpose and action, we cannot fail.

On the international front, we are elated by the conclusion of a power sharing agreement in Kenya. We congratulate our Kenyan brothers and sisters and former UN secretary general Koffi Annan and his team for this breakthrough, which has further restored confidence in the ability of Africa to solve its problems.

We will need to continue to do whatever we can to contribute to the resolution of conflict and the strengthening of democratic institutions across the continent, and to strengthen the capacity of the African Union to lead these processes.

We support the valuable work undertaken by President Thabo Mbeki, as mandated by SADC, to bring all parties in Zimbabwe together to find solutions to the political and economic challenges the country faces.

We are confident that the leaders and people of Zimbabwe will rally to this task.

In this context, we wish the people of Zimbabwe well as they go to the polls later this month. We share with them the hope that these elections will contribute to a process of healing and renewal.

We should remain ready to assist with the difficult and challenging effort that still lies ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen, our policy which declares that South Africa belongs to all who live in it is a living legacy that will continue to be at the core of the vision we have to build a prosperous and united nation. The ANC led a struggle to rid our country of apartheid.

We have replaced it with a stable and maturing democracy and the events at Polokwane bore testimony to this.

We want to work with the business community and all sectors of our country to strengthen our country, deepen our democracy further and ensure the successful realization of the vision of a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

I thank you.

  • This the prepared text of an address by ANC President Jacob Zuma to the "Enriching Tomorrow, Sharing Ideas for the Future Forum'' hosted by the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Sandton, March 4 2008

From: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=86964&sn=Detail

1632 words