JOHANNESBURG, South African Deputy President Cyrile Ramaphosa, the newly elected president of the African National Congress (ANC), the country’s ruling party, will deliver his first January 8 Statement, an annual commemoration of the founding of the party in 1972, this Saturday in East London, in Eastern Cape Province.

The January 8 Statement is traditionally used by the ANC to convey the party’s unmediated messages and directives from its President. At all times, the theme of the January 8 Statement is informed by an appraisal of the internal and external challenges the organization faces.

Such an analysis enables the ANC to identify and minimize both the weakness and the threats it faces. At the same time it enables the ANC to exploit the opportunities that are available as it builds itself into robust machinery

The Statement is an effective way of creating a sense of community for disparate formation of cadres. It also serves the purpose of ensuring that all ANC members read from the same hymn sheet. Doing so ensures that all members of the organisation, irrespective of their location, carry the same message. With the ANC re-asserting itself as the strategic political centre, the January 8 Statement now looms large in almanac.

The Statement prefigures what the President’s State of the Nation Address will entail.

With an overwhelming 1.2 million members, the gathering for the January 8 Statement has become a sort of annual pilgrimage. At this gathering, the ANC converts and their fellow travellers congregate to receive an unmediated message and directives from the ANC President.

The condition of freedom has introduced behaviour that the ANC considers alien to its character and culture. It has packaged it as sins of incumbency. These include careerism, abuse of power, bureaucratic elitism, use of State institutions to fight intra-party conflicts.

In large measure, aside from economic issues, these are some of the issues which pre-occupied last month’s ANC elective conference when delegates elected Ramaphosa as ANC president for the next five years, succeeding President Jacob Zuma as leader of the party.


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