Giant leap to second phase of transition
THE first 18 years have been characterised as the first transition of primarily a political nature.
Given the priorities and the conditions at the time, it was a transition from apartheid to a free and democratic society.
Having scored many achievements during this period, there is consensus that we have been unable to reach the goal of a truly prosperous, inclusive, non-racial and non-sexist society.
The triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment persists, affecting Africans, women and the youth.
We are therefore calling for a dramatic shift or giant leap to economic and social transformation, so that we can deal decisively with the triple challenges.
Among the underlying causes of the slow pace towards economic freedom is the fact that before 1994, we went through a negotiations process at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), followed by a negotiated settlement.
We had to make certain compromises in the national interest and these were necessary. For example, we had to be cautious about restructuring the economy, in order to maintain economic stability and confidence at the time.
Thus, the economic power relations of the apartheid era have in the main remained intact.
The ownership of the economy is still primarily in the hands of white males, as it has always been.
And what exactly did we achieve during the first transition or the first 18 years of freedom?
We have achieved political stability and have established a fully functional government system. The people govern through choosing a government of their choice every five years through national general elections. We have a Parliament that is vibrant and holds the executive accountable.
We have an independent judiciary which is a final arbiter in all disputes in our society.
Freedom of expression and that of the media are enshrined in our progressive constitution, which also includes the right to fair labour practices.
We have Chapter Nine institutions which support democracy and protect the rights of citizens.
During the first 10 years of democracy, Parliament passed 789 laws or amendments, thereby dismantling the apartheid legal framework.
To date, over two-and-a-half million houses have been built for the poor. Six-million households have gained access to clean water since 1994 and electricity has been connected to nearly five-million homes. Fifteen-million people receive social grants, 10-million of whom are vulnerable children.
The social grants remain one of the most effective poverty-alleviation mechanisms of government.
Our programmes have also opened the doors of learning. More than eight-million children at primary and secondary schools benefit from school-feeding schemes and no-fee school policies.
Student loans are being converted into bursaries for qualifying final-year students, while those in further education and training colleges who qualify for financial aid are now exempted from paying fees.
There has been a stabilisation in the number of people living with HIV, after rising since the 1990s.
Nationally, there has been a remarkable reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV from about 8% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2011, thus protecting more than 30000 babies from infection and poor health.
Another major achievement is that by the middle of last year, 15.1-million people had been tested for HIV voluntarily, and 1.7-million were initiated on anti-retroviral treatment. We appear to be on track to meet the target of 2.5-million people on treatment by 2014.
On peace and stability, crime statistics show a decrease in most crimes, including armed robberies, housebreakings and contact crimes.
Through the implementation of a major infrastructure programme over the years, the ANC government helped to create jobs and protected our communities from the worst effects of the global economic crisis.
Very few countries have achieved so much in just under two decades. We had emerged from three centuries of institutionalised and systematic oppression and ill-treatment of black people, described by Madiba as a human disaster that went on for too long, in his statement from the dock.
Noting these achievements, the time has come to do something more drastic to accelerate change, towards economic transformation and freedom.
We are now proposing a radical shift towards economic and social transformation. The level of frustration in some communities is high and understandably so. While many have received basic services, many more are still waiting for electricity, water, sanitation, proper roads, trains that run on time all the time, decent housing, as well as clinics that have medical staff and medicines in certain areas.
From time to time, people resort to protests to voice their anger, which sometimes turn violent.
We must caution that while frustrations at erratic delivery are understandable, the destruction of property and resorting to violence will never be tolerated.
Such lawlessness will be dealt with by law enforcement agencies, while on the political side we work to resolve the complaints of our communities.
We are assisted in our work by the National Planning Commission with regard to projections and planning for the future.
In November last year, the commission produced a draft National Development Plan covering 13 areas, including job creation, education, health, rural development, citizen safety, economic infrastructure, social protection and South Africa's place in the region and the world.
What solutions will be brought by the second transition?
To improve government performance, we must develop an effective, democratic developmental state. The state has a number of instruments that it can use to improve and drive transformation.
These include the national budget, state-owned enterprises and the macroeconomic framework, including policy on monetary, fiscal, labour, industrial policy and trade matters.
The ANC must also pay attention to improving the capacity of the public service, at professional, technical and numerical levels.
The quality of cadres and their understanding of the mission of the ANC must be taken seriously.
With regard to the economy, we need to go back to the basics and take the difficult decisions that we could not take in 1994.
To achieve this, we must create a thriving mixed economy, where the state, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other in an integrated way to eliminate poverty and foster shared economic growth.
To achieve inclusive and labour-absorbing growth, the state must play an active role in the economy, driving development, especially in neglected areas.
To change the structure, the ANC must democratise and de-racialise the ownership and control of the economy by empowering Africans and the working class in particular to play a leading role.
Despite the liberalisation of the economy, the structure of the apartheid economy has remained largely intact, and has not allowed for higher or inclusive growth.
Our broad-based black economic empowerment strategy and employment equity policies have been successful but have not yielded sufficient results.
The wealth of the country is largely obtained through holding shares in existing companies instead of primary production.
Our economic transformation efforts should focus on achieving a rising per-capita income, full employment, and our targets must demonstrate real and visible progress in reducing wealth and income inequalities.
The ANC is proposing these policy shifts during a difficult period when growth is slowing down again worldwide due to the Eurozone crisis.
Many economic targets will be difficult to attain.
lThis is an edited extract of a speech delivered by the ANC president at the party's policy conference in Midrand