POLITICS

10 Key Points From Jacob Zuma's Last January 8 Speech

Jacob Zuma's speech revolved around uniting the party even beyond the upcoming elective conference.

08/01/2017 13:40 SAST | Updated 09/01/2017 11:42 SAST
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) cheer at a rally to launch the ANC's local government election manifesto in Port Elizabeth, April 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

ANC president Jacob Zuma on Sunday delivered his last January 8 Statement at a very cold Orlando Stadium. Here are 10 things you need to know about the speech.

1. Unity

The theme throughout his speech was structured around building a united ANC that listens to the people. Zuma admitted that the party faces serious challenges to its unity. Divisive tendencies such as factionalism, gatekeeping and manipulation of internal processes exist at all levels of the ANC, the ANC Leagues, the Alliance and the Mass Democratic Movement.

"We accept that we have made mistakes and we shall correct these mistakes. One example of correcting our mistakes is that where these [ANC] processes have been manipulated the ANC has sent teams to those regions to take the necessary steps.

2. Control of Economy

Zuma said the only way for the ANC to truly achieve its goal of a better life for all was to have control of the economy and to push for its growth. He said radical economic transformation remains the centre of everything the party does.

"Prior to the global crisis, South Africa's economy was growing at an average of nearly 4 percent. Millions of jobs were created. Consequently, as we are connected to the global economic system, we have been impacted negatively. The year 2017 will bring new opportunities to transform our economy but also new challenges. Let us show the world that despite a complex and uncertain global situation, we can radically transform the economy."

3. Land Reform

Zuma admitted that the land redistribution programme was not achieving the required goals at an acceptable pace. He called for bolder stands to ensure blacks can have ownership of it.

"Too many of our people continue to suffer from the historic injustice perpetrated by the horrendous land dispossessions. We must show courage and determination to ensure that the land is returned to the people. This year, we shall begin to utilise the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and land redistribution with greater speed and urgency."

4. Re-evaluation of the Mining Charter

To ensure that miners live in dignified environments and are paid wages that allow them to live with pride, Zuma announced that the mining charter would be re-evaluated. He said the government would become stricter and hold mining companies accountable and ensure they adhere to the conditions of their licenses.

"We expect all mining companies to abide by the regulations of their licenses. We recommit to our ongoing efforts aimed at improving the social and economic conditions in all mining areas. The ANC calls on mining houses to give greater effect to the obligations undertaken in their social and labour plans and to work more closely with government and organised labour in this regard."

5. Living Wage

He called on society to support the proposed minimum wage of R3,500. Nedlec recently proposed that R3,500 should be the benchmark where no employer would be allowed to pay a worker below that. The announcement was met with mixed feelings at the time but Zuma on Sunday called on society to actively be involved in the discourse.

"We encourage all to participate in the discussion towards the eventual figure to be agreed upon."

6. Quality Education

The recent matric results were labelled as the perfect example of the quality of education being provided. Zuma said the ANC government has made strides in providing quality basic education and they are making progress in performance om mathematics and science.

"The ANC is especially proud of the Free State, which achieved a staggering 93,2 percent pass rate. It is equally commendable that an increasing number of the top performing learners are from fee-free public schools. The above is a clear illustration that our pro-poor policies work."

7. Free Tertiary Education

Zuma further added that the party agreed that it was time government provided free tertiary education for the poor as envisaged by the Freedom Charter.

"We agree, on a fundamental level, that we must achieve our goal of the progressive realisation of free education for the poor and working class, as per the prescripts of the Freedom Charter. Central to South Africa's higher education crisis is a university system that is grossly underfunded, small in size and where education is increasingly sold as a commodity."

8. Credit Ratings

President Zuma spoke about the importance of maintaining the country's sovereign credit rating. He said the party was focused on a strategy aimed at finding an appropriate balance between meeting developmental objectives and promoting inclusive growth.

"We make a call on all South Africans to contribute constructively to discussions about our future economic trajectory, keeping in mind our goals of radical socio-economic transformation, meeting basic needs, attaining more inclusive growth and reducing public debt."

9. Non-Racialism

Zuma called for the building of a non-racial society. He said it was an absolute necessity for all living in South Africa.

"It does not matter where we come from. We are all here now. The humanist approach of the ANC is that all people are equal. Respect for the inherent humanity and dignity of all people, especially the historically oppressed majority, must inform all our actions."

10. ANC Leaders Must Serve The People

Zuma called on those who will be elected at the party's conference in December to serve the people and not themselves. He said the leaders must demonstrate a desire and commitment to serve the people.

"They must have a proven track record and be able to organise and inspire the masses to be their own liberators, Leaders must have demonstrated capacity to unite and guide our movement. Leading the ANC is a tremendous responsibility, which must not be taken lightly."