By Umamah Bakharia
The African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its 110th birthday this weekend. The party was estblished on 8 January 1912.
It held its birthday rally at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium, in Limpopo, with its president Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the National Executive Statement – better known as the January 8 statement. The statement was first delivered in 1972.
Ramaphosa delivered his first January 8 statement as ANC President in 2018 shortly after being elected into the position at the party’s national elective conference in Nasrec a month earlier.
But the party has this week gone to great lengths to ensure that it hosts its celebrations successfully despite some disruptions that unfolded in the build-up to the rally.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said: “As we prepare to celebrate our anniversary, we also want to convey our congratulatory messages and gratitude to the founding fathers and mothers, members, supporters, voters and volunteers of our glorious movement for contributing to the sustenance and remarkable growth and development of this revolutionary giant over 110 years.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged the problems when speaking to ANC supporters this week.
“We have lots of challenges, nearly on every front. We have COVID-19. We also had corruption scandals … that we had to deal with. It involved people dipping their fingers into money that was supposed to be utilized for (personal protective gear)” said Ramaphosa, citing one of several corruption scandals.
He said the loss of jobs due to the COVID-19 had compounded South Africa’s already high unemployment rate of 34% and he highlighted the July unrest as one of the major events that set the country back.
“It’s a broad spectrum of challenges and problems. It needs leadership but also needs us to work together, and to ask ourselves whether we give in … or are we going to defend the gains that we have made?” Ramaphosa said.
However, the ANC’s support has declined in recent years and it received less than 50% of votes cast in local elections in October, its worst-ever showing at the polls.
Political analyst Hlengiwe Ndlovu says the ANC will try to use the anniversary to win back some of the support they have lost over the years.
Ramaphosa sasys the ANC will launch a a “renewal commission” soon to work with the Tripartite Alliance in developing a Vision 2032.