The Freedom Charter “The People Shall Govern!”
The Freedom Charter was the statement of core principles of the South African Congress Alliance, which consisted of the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies – the South African Indian Congress, the South African Congress of Democrats and the Coloured People’s Congress.
Today marks the 62nd Anniversary of the Freedom Charter.
The African National Congress celebrates the 62nd Anniversary of the Freedom Charter in a South Africa markedly different from the exclusionary, racist and repressive country of the apartheid regime.
Through the advancement of the radical program of the National Democratic Revolution, South Africa today has all the key tenants of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society – a mere dream to our forebears, the drafters of the Freedom Charter in 1955.
Sixty two years on, our country has much to celebrate as we continue to advance the implementation of the demands of the Freedom Charter. While, together, we have recorded significant successes in dismantling institutionalized racism and lifting the quality of life of many our people, the perennial challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality remain – stubborn and still defined by the contradictions of race, class and gender.
In 1955, our people declared with no fear of contradiction that, “South Africa, belongs to all who live in it, black and white” . They developed the Charter as the common program of the South African people, becoming the primary political program of the ANC led government in the democratic dispensation. In the words of President Oliver Tambo, “The Charter expresses the aspirations of our people, regardless of color, for the right of the majority to rule our country and regain their stolen birthright, the wealth and land of our country”.
These aspirations of the people laid the foundation for the development of the Constitution of the Republic which poignantly echoes the call that, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity”. It further sets out the platform for co-existence and the minimum program for co-operation by all in our society. In this regard, the Constitution enjoins us to “Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights;”
The struggle of the South African people led by the ANC was and remains a struggle against racial domination not a struggle against a particular race. The ANC remains committed to resolving the national grievance not by fighting white people, but fighting the system of oppression and its legacy.
As we mark Freedom Charter Day this year, the African National Congress calls on South Africa across all our artificial divides to unite behind the long-held aspirations of the of the Freedom Charter and our nation’s vision as outlined in the Supreme Law. Pushing back the frontiers of poverty, dealing decisively with unemployment and eliminating inequality requires resolute action from all social partners. Of necessity, as a country we must build on that which unites rather than belabor that which divides.
For its part, the African National Congress will utilise its upcoming National Policy Conference to accelerate the program to realize the aspirations of the Freedom Charter. We will reaffirm the ANC’s non-racial character whilst remaining true to our historic mission to effect fundamental socio-economic transformation to the benefit of Blacks in general and Africans in particular.
It is an accepted fact that the democratic government inherited an economy dominated by monopoly capital, with a few white-owned conglomerates owning large swathes of critical sectors. The principal enemy of the National Democratic Revolution is monopoly capital, made up of local and foreign corporations controlling large chunks of the economy, regardless of its color. To drive transformation of our economy, to the benefit of all our people, we must be unyielding in our project to dismantle monopolies
We must also come up with bold proposals to usher in a skills revolution amongst young people in the country. Confronted by the reality of the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we must ensure that we prepare our youth and our country for a new and different future in an ever evolving world.
We must be ruthless in our quest to turn South Africa into a construction site thus ensuring we overcome the legacy and injustice created by colonialism and apartheid by creating monuments of manufacturing excellence in our township and rural areas.
The African National Congress calls on all South Africans to have unity of strategic perspective on the nature and character of the society we build. We must promote a common loyalty to, and pride in, the country; and, to create a universal sense of freedom and security within its borders. We, all of us who live in South Africa, black and white, must hold hands to build a thriving and prosperous society characterized by total fulfillment of the aspirations of the Freedom Charter