President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised his forebears that he and his party, the African National Congress (ANC), will make every effort to deliver the promises of a progressive South Africa.
“We shall not rest until the sunshine that Langalibalele Dube spoke about, the sunshine of the new civilization rises and shines upon our people.
“We shall not rest until we have built the national democratic society that the people of South Africa yearn for,” said President Ramaphosa.
The President made the commitment at the Ohlange Institute in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal, as he delivered the party’s annual January 8 statement to mark the African National Congress’s 107th birthday on Tuesday.
The January 8 statement outlines the ANC’s priorities for 2019 and serves as the lodestar for the work of government.
Inanda was strategically chosen by the ANC to commemorate the day as it is the birthplace of the party’s founding father, John Langalibalele Dube.
President Ramaphosa said his party had returned to Inanda to visit Dube’s gravesite and report back to him on the progress made by the party.
The President was accompanied by several ANC bigwigs, among them former President Jacob Zuma.
“I am one of the luckiest ANC Presidents because I have two former Presidents that are still alive, whom whenever I need anything to be said or to be done, I go to them,” said the President.
Reflecting on the progress and achievements of the ruling party, President Ramaphosa highlighted that since the ANC came into power, more homes have electricity, running water, access to health care and three million houses have been built.
Despite this progress, the President said more needs to be done on education, land, gender equality, job creation and the economy.
President Ramaphosa called for increased focus on early childhood development.
“We want the young ones from the ages of two to three years to enter into early childhood development because the learning of a child starts while they are still young. If we focus on the first 1 000 days, that is where we will be able to have a population that is moving with the times,” said the President.
Still in line with education, President Ramaphosa noted that the recently announced 78.2% matric pass rate shows that progress is being made in education.
He said while there is still room for improvement, township and rural schools are slowly turning the corner and improving their pass rates.
The President said while strides are being made to address gender inequality, more needs to be done to ensure a safe society for women.
“We must hang our heads in shame that even as we make progress in forging a non-sexist society, women in our country continue to be confronted with unprecedented levels of abuse, violence and murder, often by those who are closest to them.
“This is a national crisis that we are determined to bring to an end so that all South African women can live in peace, safety, and dignity.”
Addressing the issue of land, President Ramaphosa said the country will implement the policy of land expropriation without compensation.
“We are now embarking on a new phase of accelerated land reform, which will contribute significantly to building economies and agriculture. The land will return to the hands of our people.”
Despite the achievements he noted, President Ramaphosa said many people are still living in poverty, without basic necessities with millions unemployed.
“It is our task as the sons and daughters of John Langalibalele Dube to place the needs of these people at the centre of our every effort. We still have to create more jobs,” he said.
“We want to call on all South Africans to work together to ensure that all South Africans share in prosperity and [can] grow our economy,” he said.
With the annual January 8 statement behind it, the ruling party will now shift focus to its election manifesto launch, which will take place at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.
The launch will kick-off the party’s election campaign for the 2019 national elections.