The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa said unity within the party’s ranks is vital as it would keep the organisation strong and would ensure it remains in “the forefront of the struggle for liberation”. He said this when he was giving the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela lecture in Johannesburg on Sunday night as the late anti-apartheid struggle icon would have turned 82-years-old this past week.
The president said the ruling party acknowledged during its 54th elective conference last year that in the last few of years, the country had not progressed as it ought to have.“In fact, the last decade has seen many of the gains of the early years of our democracy reversed through state capture and corruption, a failure of collective leadership, policy uncertainty, and a growing distance between the people and their government,” Ramaphosa said.
He admitted the erosion of the governing party’s values and confronted difficult questions about the quality and integrity of its leadership.
“We have acknowledged these weaknesses and are determined that we should learn from our mistakes,” Ramaphosa said.
He further said that the party came out of last year’s conference with a clear mandate to build a social compact for growth, jobs, and fundamental transformation.
“It is a mandate to end corruption and strengthen public institutions, ensuring honest and effective leadership in SOEs [state-owned enterprises], departments, and municipalities, as well as agencies that serve the nation like Sars [South African Revenue Services], law enforcement institutions, as well as institutions like the national prosecuting authority.”
He added that the ANC came out of its conference last year with a mandate of reforming and repositioning these institutions as well as ridding them of corruption and ensuring these institutions serve the interest of the people.
In honouring of Madikizela-Mandela and to celebrate her legacy, Ramaphosa said the ANC must reaffirm to building the party and restoring its principles and values.
“Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was firmly committed to the unity of the African National Congress. She understood that this was vitally necessary if the ANC was to remain at the forefront of the struggle for liberation.”
Unity, Ramaphosa said, is what Madikizela-Mandela believed to should be a priority for the ANC because the party would derive its strength from it.
“As the ANC prepared for [its 54th elective conference], she [Madikizela-Mandela] was foremost among the elders of our movement who urged an end to disunity and called on all leaders to settle whatever differences they may have in the interests of the ANC and the country.”
“As we meet to honour Mama Winnie, as we celebrate her legacy, we must reaffirm our shared responsibility to build the ANC as a more effective instrument in the hands of the people.
“We must work as one to restore the principles and values of the great leaders of our movement, who taught us the meaning of integrity, honesty, sacrifice, selflessness and service. As we do so, there is no better role model than Mama Winnie,” Ramaphosa said.
Unity was the main theme of the 3 day meeting that was held.