SA President Cyril Ramaphosa

This is the year of real renewal — Ramaphosa

SOUTH Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his confidence in the newly elected top seven officials saying “we are well-armed with great wisdom and energy” to take the party’s renewal agenda to greater heights.

“This is a new year, a year of real renewal in the ANC, a year of action because the new leadership that has been elected is action-orientated,” he said.

Ramaphosa was speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave site of late ANC (Cape Province) president Zaccheus Mahabane at Seeisoville cemetery in Kroonstad, Free State on Wednesday.

He was accompanied by the party’s newly elected secretarygeneral Fikile Mbalula and second deputy secretary-general Maropene Ramokgopa.

The ceremony was Ramaphosa’s first public engagement since he was re-elected to serve for a second term as party president last month.

The event kicked off a series of build-up events including a women’s uManyano,economic dialogue, political lectures, fund raising gala and a golf day that will take place ahead of the party’s 111th birthday celebration on Sunday in Mangaung.

The leadership, he said, wants to bring about change in the lives of the people. “We are merchants of hope, we are the leadership that is going to instil hope in the hearts and the minds of our people because that is what the ANC is all about.

“As we renew ourselves, we will be spreading the hope around for better things that the ANC needs to do and lead our nation in transforming our nation and bringing about a better life for our people.

“I do believe that the leadership that has been elected has the wherewithal, energy and many of them are young and women, so we are well armed with great wisdom and energy to take the struggle of our people to a higher level ,” Ramaphosa said.

He said it was ANC tradition to visit the grave sites of former leaders and presidents. “We will carry on with the work of the renewal and rejuvenation of the ANC. Our presence here is about drawing strength,wisdom and about getting these bones that are laid here in this grave to talk to us, show us the way forward and breathe new life into the ANC.”

Paying homage to Mahabane, who was president in 1924 until 1927 and was re-elected to serve again in 1936, he said Mahabane was the only person who was re-elected to serve as party president on two non-consecutive terms.

“We are here on a pilgrimage. This is what we do as the ANC when we have our January 8 celebrations, we go to the families of the predecessor leaders and their grave sites so that we can lay wreaths to remember the gallant sacrifices that they made, such Reverend Mahabane.

“He is among leaders that the ANC produced over the years. But we also remember him fondly because one of his key tasks was to unite the ANC and make it a united force that was able to fight a good fight against our oppressors.

“When he left office in 1940, a new generation of leaders then ensued and took the struggle to a much higher level.” He also used the opportunity to thank the family for remaining loyal members of the ANC. Meanwhile, the party is expected to reconvene and conclude part two of the 55th national elective conference in a hybrid fashion.

Ramaphosa said there was nothing untoward about holding the conference in two parts. “This could well be a first in terms of the conference being done in two stages but we have had a number of conferences in the provinces being done in two stages.

“Time is always our enemy and we didn’t have it in abundance because we wanted to do things so perfectly that the registration took much longer than we wanted. “We also allowed members to talk in great length about the credentials, which was good because that was democracy in action and it finally enabled us to say, ‘let’s hold the conference in two stages’, which is what we are doing.”

He said what is good about the ANC is that everything it does is preceded by a policy conference. “The policies have, to a large extend, already been crafted and the second stage of the conference is to finalise them.

 “The declaration is almost at the final draft and the drafting of the January 8 statement, the secretary general has made sure that work has continued based on all of the various positions that have come through the policy conference and commissions.” Once finalised, Ramaphosa said the conference will consolidate the January 8 statement and make an announcement on Saturday. –

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