Speech by Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during the State of the Nation debate
16 Feb 2011
Your Excellency, President Jacob Zuma
Your Excellency, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe
Honourable members of the house
Ladies and gentlemen
This is the last State of the Nation debate before that watershed moment in the history of our country, and people - the centenary celebration of the birth of the African National Congress, the oldest liberation movement in our Continent.
Even though the Centenary is only about the last 100 years, it is important to recall that the South African nation is a product of many streams of history and culture, representing the origins, dispersal and re-integration of humanity over hundreds of thousands of years. Archaeological findings in various parts of the country and the rest of Africa have now firmly located South Africa and the continent at large as the cradle of humankind and early forms of human civilisation.
The formation and evolution of the ANC must be understood within the context of this early civilisation and our own development as a nation.Formed in 1912, the ANC was partly a response to the deal between the Dutch settlers and the British Imperialists at the end of the so-called Anglo-Boer War, formalising in 1910 South Africa’s statehood premised on political oppression, social subordination and exclusion of the majority of the people as well as the defeat of the Bhambatha Rebellion in 1906 which marked the end of armed resistance against colonial occupation.
Following this, South Africans from different walks of life, from all provinces, from all sectors including amongst others, religious and traditional leaders, chiefs, the intelligentsia, forged unity in struggle under the rallying call “MZulu, MXhosa, Msotho hlanganani”.As Pixley ka Seme said, “The demon of tribalism, the aberration of the
Xhosa-Fingo feud, the animosity that exists between the Zulus and Tonga, the Basothos and every other native must be buried and forgotten, it has shed among us sufficient blood. We are one people!”
As a liberation Movement the ANC set out to unite all South Africans in their diversity behind struggle and the transformation of our society.Being itself a multiclass organisation, the ANC worked with all the people of South Africa and all classes including the working class and the Communists.It also worked with the Congress of the Democrats, Coloured Peoples’ Congress (CPC) and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC).Accordingly, the ANC has always viewed itself as a movement that belonged to all South Africans, Africans and progressive forces of the world.
Conscious of the fact that the ANC as a liberation movement, to succeed, it had to work together with the people and needed to root itself amongst the women, youth, students, rural masses, religious communities, the intelligentsia, professionals, the unemployed, cultural workers and business people, to characterise itself as a true liberation movement able to take on all the various issues affecting the disenfranchised in South Africa.In so doing, it was able to deal with all issues, from land dispossession, to education, to bus fares, the pass laws, inadequate healthcare and housing, to name but a few, for the holistic transformation of South Africa into a truly democratic, non-sexist, non-racial, prosperous country.Accordingly, the ANC, in its commitment to the South African people as a whole, unambiguously declared in the Freedom Charter of 1955 for our people and the world to know that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”
Today we honour Dr W Rubusana, T Mapikela, Rev John Dube, S Msane, Sol Plaatjie, Pixley ka Seme, Alfred Mangena, Richard Msimang and George Montsioa, who played a major role in the formation of this glorious movement.South Africans, including ourselves in this hallowed chamber as members of Parliament of a democratic and free South Africa, owe our freedom to a large extent to the visionary patriots who met at the Wesleyan Church in Mangaung on 8 January 1912 to lay a firm foundation for the future democratic, free, non racial, non sexist and prosperous South Africa.
The centenary represents a solemn and historic moment for the people of our country, the continent and indeed progressive humanity in general.The celebrations also affords us an excellent opportunity to, as our icon Tata Nelson Mandela said, take a moment to rest, “to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds [us], to look back on the distance [we] have come without lingering .”Looking at the vista, we can say without fear of contradiction that much has been achieved over the last ten decades.
Some of our major achievements, on the road we have travelled are:
- All our people have been united behind the struggle for freedom and democracy with the restoration of their dignity
- A legitimate state that derives its authority from the people through regular elections and proper participation in the processes of government has been established
- We have a progressive Constitution with its Bill of Rights, in addition to a single citizenship with one population register and one bar-coded ID for all South Africans
- Eleven official languages have been embraced
- Freedom of movement, association and speech has been guaranteed
- Our country can proudly participate in the affairs of the global family of nations through international fora.
We are well on the way towards building a united African nation whose diversity is its strength and adds to the tapestry of the continent and humanity at large.
Working together we have provided basic needs like:
- Rural development
- Sport and recreational amenities
Yet there are still a lot of challenges that lay ahead and we must be seized with dealing with these from today until we commemorate the next centenary.
Although we have recognised the rights of the vulnerable, elderly, children, persons with disabilities, we acknowledge that there still exists a level of marginalisation.
Our fore-bearers have bequeathed to us a better South Africa, continent and world than the one they lived in, bestowing upon us an obligation and a responsibility to bequeath to future generations a better South Africa than the one we live in today.
However, like Tata Mandela, we can rest for only a moment because with freedom comes responsibilities and we still have much to do. We continue to face challenges of poverty and underdevelopment which threaten to erode the gains we have made since we received from the people of our country the mandate to govern, and in return, pledged that the ANC would become a party of the future, using political power and harnessing the organisational and intellectual resources of society to attain the vision of a national democratic society.
Of course, we should ensure that all people, from all walks of life and from all sectors celebrate and participate in the centenary of the Movement. But more importantly, we call upon different sectors to use this opportunity towards the centenary not only to evaluate the distance we have travelled but to seriously consider how we will work towards transforming South African society towards the next century, including amongst others, the eradication of poverty, disease, illiteracy and underdevelopment on our continent and humanity as a whole.
As we approach the Centenary, it will be important to mobilise the different sectors of society:
- Religious leaders to encourage the strengthening of moral degeneration in our society now and beyond the Centenary
- The sporting fraternity to mobilise for the centenary through their various sporting activities which has proved an invaluable bridge amongst the people
- The intelligentsia who must debate the significance of the way forward for the centenary
- Traditional leaders and the rural masses should find creative ways of celebrating the Centenary especially because the traditional leadership was part of the founding members of the ANC
- The cultural workers have an opportunity to unleash their creativity for the celebrations and festivities
- Business people must partner with government to ensure we work together to achieve our employment and economic targets
- Women who have come a long way in the last century must continue to consolidate their gains. The ANC has long recognised the indispensability of women in the creation of strong societies
- Our continent, the international community and indeed all progressive forces, which has accompanied us on the road we have travelled since 1912, should find ways to join us in the celebration
- Finally, the Youth should mobilise themselves to celebrate the Centenary.The next century belongs to you – the youth and apart from celebrating the youth should reflect on the period beyond the Centenary.
This should indeed be a national celebration in the inclusive character of the ANC.I would like to end with a quote by a giant amongst our people, Oliver Tambo, "Like all other patriots, we love our country and its peoples, its entire people. It is a varied land of snow-capped mountain peaks, of deserts and sub-tropical greenery covering vast mineral resources. It’s warm seas to the east and cold ones to the west contain also large animal and mineral resources."
"Our people, with their varied cultures which are continuously mingling and interacting to their mutual enrichment, exhibit, despite their conditions, a great love for life and a sensitive joy in the creative and human endeavours of the people of the world, without exception.”
"We will create a South Africa in which the doors of learning and of culture shall be open to all. We will have a South Africa in which the young of our country shall have the best that mankind has produced, in which they shall be taught to love the people of all races, to defend the equality of the people, to honour creative labour, to uphold the oneness of mankind and to hate untruths, immorality and avarice. We will have a South Africa which will live in peace with its neighbours and with the rest of the world.”
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
16 Feb 2011
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