Tell no lies claim no easy victories

Maropene Ramokgopa says the ANC’s manifesto review must be a truthful reflection of movement’s setbacks and deficiencies

Tell no lies claim no easy victories

6 September 2023

In 2019, in its social contract with the people, the African National Congress (ANC) committed to the quality of life of all South Africans under the theme “Let’s grow South Africa together. A better life for all”.

With the sixth administration drawing to an end, we are at the point of asking; How much progress have we made in achieving our goal of growing South Africa and providing a better life for everyone?

Admittedly, the 2024 National General Elections will be a litmus test for the ANC and the people of South Africa.

2024 marks 30 years of democracy and the beginning of the seventh administration under the ANC as the ruling party since 1994. We cannot negate the importance of introspection, environmental scanning, and evaluating all subjective and objective factors as we evaluate the past five years specifically, and the past 30 years more broadly.

This evaluative period will guide us all in navigating the complex challenges that arise in striving towards advancing the aspirations of the people and fulfilling our obligation to society. This includes civil society's role in ensuring social cohesion, businesses' role in promoting socio-economic transformation, and other stakeholders in all aspects of society.

Our fidelity to this process signifies a commitment to the principles that underpin our Renewal Agenda. The characteristics of a renewed organization must include the ability to rally progressive forces in support of a shared vision of development aimed at creating a national democratic society, establishing an organization that can effectively advocate for the interests of the people, and fostering a culture of collective leadership based on a shared value system.

Equally, our members must also be ready and willing to serve and make sacrifices to pursue the greater good for all. This is declared on every membership form;

“...that I agree to respect the Constitution and the structures and to work as a loyal member of the organization, that I will place my energies and skills at the disposal of the organization and carry out tasks given to me, that I will work towards making the ANC an even more effective instrument of liberation in the hands of the people, and that I will defend the unity and integrity of the organization and its principles,..”

The ANC approaches the 2024 National General Elections conscious of the significant bottlenecks in the provision of basic services which has reflected poorly on the organization’s overall performance.

Whilst we recognize the shortcomings that exist, we must be relentless in celebrating the breakthroughs in many other areas that give practical realization to our mandate; “building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous South Africa."

The ANC's 55th National Conference emphasized the importance of acknowledging and addressing the organization's weaknesses to serve the people's struggle better.

This includes improving the capacity for policy and planning, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating policy implementation and its impact on society.

The ANC 2019 Manifesto Review process is not just a gesture of goodwill, but a necessary step towards boldly confronting societal realities. It is the assessment of the policies, legislation, and programmatic implementations of the current term of the ANC government against the set Priorities and Commitments enlisted in the 2019 Manifesto. It also sets the tone for the next five years.

“Tell no lies and claim no easy victories….We should recognize as a matter of conscience that there have been many faults and errors in our action whether political or military: an important number of things we should have done at the right times, or no done at all”.-Amical Cabral-1965.

The ANC acknowledges that it needs bold interventions, invoking its strategies and tactics for a renewed organization capable of advancing people's interests, winning people's hearts, rekindling society's confidence as a leader of society, and building a capable and ethical state for a better life for all.

To achieve this, the organization has to make bold pronouncements to give effect to the 55th Conference resolutions on:

- Ethical leadership with the intellectual, theoretical, and ideological to advance the National Democratic Revolution (NDR);

- Closing the gap between society and the organization;

- Acts of aloofness, corruption, crass materialism, and conspicuous consumption;

- Disunity and factionalism;

- Empowering and strengthening the integrity commission and the step-down principle;

- It is strengthening local government and restoring its service delivery mandate and coalface role in a people-driven and people-centered manner.

The upcoming review of the manifesto for the 2024 General Elections is a vital step towards fostering a better society and regaining the trust of our people. It will allow us to reflect on our past actions, both positive and negative, and to acknowledge the contributions of our leaders. We aim to create a society that cares for its people, and we must do everything possible to make this a reality. We must also find ways to strengthen our economy and address the challenges facing our local government while promoting social cohesion and cracking down on crime. By working together, we can overcome these obstacles and build a brighter future for ourselves and future generations.

Subsequently, the manifesto review aims to reassert the ANC as the people's movement and parliament.

The ANC remains rooted in communities. Our organizational processes consistently underscore the value of active citizenry, participatory democracy, and societal input in the context of working together with communities. It is through our relationship with communities that we will be able to advance the people's interests, reaffirming the power of unity and the will of the people, most notably the principle ‘the people shall govern’.

At every epoch of our governance and policy-making, the ANC always seeks to connect with the people and lead according to their will – be it in candidate selection, where communities are invited to make input, or in determining development priorities in communities through Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of municipalities.

Withal, the manifesto review fearlessly demonstrates to the people that the ANC, as a leader of society, is the only organization that voluntarily subjects to performance scrutiny, thus reaffirming its hegemony in society, believing in communities, and building public trust. We have been engaging and interacting with society on the road traveled since 2019 informed by the mandate bestowed by the people.

Admittedly this process will also require that we acknowledge our shortcomings and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy, amongst other key turbulences in the past five years.

Equally recognizing the need to emphatically address corruption, load shedding, and its effects on service delivery, business, and small business growth.

We equally would like to register the following successes of the 2019 manifesto:

The economy has recovered to its pre-pandemic GDP

The National Health Insurance Bill was passed by parliament

Average life expectancy increasing from 64 to 65 years today.

Over 77% (5,7 million) of the nearly 8 million people living with HIV are on treatment, up from 4,5 million people in 2019.

The ANC Government has extended SRD grant to 2024 and current coverage reaches 8.4 million beneficiaries as of 31 May 2023.

The National Framework Towards Professionalisation of Public Sector was approved by Cabinet in October 2022

We cannot negate the need to tackle fundamental service delivery issues such as potholes, littering, sewer spillages, incorrect billing, illegal connections, high electricity and water rates, zama-zamas, illegal immigration, endemic crime, gender-based violence, weak local government, rejuvenating the township economy, illegal spaza shops, and fake goods.

The ANC assures the people that it continues to address these challenges, especially the electricity and water crisis as outlined in the 2023 January 8 statement.

Our assessment of the election manifesto must be a truthful reflection of our setbacks and deficiencies.

It must serve as an avenue for our organization to re-establish its connection with the community and receive their input on ways we can enhance our governance as a party and foster a better quality of life for all citizens of South Africa, in line with the declaration made at the 55th Conference.

By undergoing this meticulous but vital process, the ANC will demonstrate its dedication to serving the people and its commitment to fostering a genuinely participatory democracy. The principle of people-centred governance will prevail and in the process we will Tell No Lies or Claim Easy Victories.

By Maropene Ramokgopa, the Second Deputy Secretary-General of the African National Congress