POLITICS
21/12/2017 01:14 SAST | Updated 21/12/2017 01:17 SAST

What Ramaphosa's Maiden Speech Tells Us About His Priorities

Some of the themes unity, fighting corruption, economic development and organizational renewal.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
President of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa reacts during a tour of the Nasrec Expo Centre, where the 54th National Conference of the ruling party took place in Johannesburg.

Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has dedicated his first speech as the head of the party to unity, fighting corruption, economic development and organisational renewal.

In his speech, which came in the early hours of Thursday morning, Ramaphosa made his first mark on the ANC -- in a way outlining his vision for the next five years.

These are the themes Ramaphosa focused on:

Unity

He said the ANC's 54th national conference at Nasrec has not only united the ANC, but also strengthened it.

"In electing the leadership, you, as the delegates to this conference, have turned your back on the politics of the slate. You have insisted that the people who lead this movement should not be from one or another faction, but should serve our people in their own right as representatives of the membership as a whole," he said.

"You have instructed us to forge a united ANC. You have also directed us to unite the alliance and ensure that its programmes are underpinned by unity."

The tripartite alliance

Ramaphosa admitted the alliance had faced many challenges and problems in the recent past.

"We will work with our alliance partners to repair relations between the four formations that our people expect to lead the National Democratic Revolution," he said.

"As this conference, we are in agreement that the ANC cannot be strong and effective unless we are part of an alliance that is strong, united and cohesive."

Economic development:

Ramaphosa said South Africans want an ANC that uses public office not to serve vested interests, but to build a truly developmental state and a vibrant, inclusive economy that creates jobs and improves lives.

"As we leave this conference, we are resolved to pursue with greater determination a radical path of socioeconomic transformation, premised on growth, job creation and equitable distribution of income, wealth and assets. The issue of land has been a matter of great concern to our people whose land was taken from them," he said.

"We will accelerate our programme of land reform and rural development as part of our programme of radical socioeconomic transformation. This conference has resolved that the expropriation of land without compensation should be among the mechanisms available to government to give effect to land reform and redistribution."

Corruption and state capture

Picking up his pitch, Ramaphosa said at state level, the party must confront the reality that critical institutions of the state have been targeted by individuals and families.

"This has led to the weakening of our state-owned enterprises whose governance structures need to be revamped. Whether we call this state capture or simply corruption, this has undermined the integrity of our institutions, cost our economy hundreds of billions of Rands and contributed to the further impoverishment of our people," he said.

"Given all these challenges we are called upon to act against corruption, collusion and other economic crimes prevalent in the public and private sector. We must investigate without fear or favour the so-called 'accounting irregularities' that cause turmoil in the markets and wipe billions off the investments of ordinary South Africans."

He said the party must act fearlessly against alleged corruption and abuse of office within its ranks.

"This conference has resolved that corruption must be fought with the same intensity and purpose that we fight poverty, unemployment and inequality," he said.

Their actions should always be a source of pride, and not a cause for embarrassment."Cyril Ramaphosa

"The actions of comrades who are deployed by the movement should always be informed by the interests of our members and our people, not personal gain. Their actions should always be a source of pride, and not a cause for embarrassment."