A number of milestones are being marked on the South African national calendar during 2016.

Today the African National Congress (ANC) launches the 2016 Local Government Election Manifesto in Port Elizabeth, ahead of the August municipal elections.

Also in August we mark the 60th Anniversary of the Women’s March to the Union Buildings in 1956, commemorating and celebrating the invaluable contribution made by these heroines to the struggle.

President Jacob Zuma has emphasised the role of women in the liberation struggle, noting that the women’s struggles cannot be separated.

The ANC continues to advance women in all sectors of society. In further observance of significant dates and events in the formation of the country’s liberation movement the President has saluted the brave men and women of Umkhonto we Sizwe formed 55 years ago accentuating the ANC’s continued role in ensuring their reintegration into society and to further improve their quality of life.

“We are also commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 Soweto student uprisings. We proudly remember those young, gallant and politically conscious fighters.

In their memory, we shall ensure that our municipalities focus on the youth,” states President Zuma in the preface to the 2016 Election Manifesto – adding that the ANC is dedicated towards reaching out other sectors such as the farm workers, the rural masses, urban and jobless workers and middle strata.

Significant to the Republic of South Africa is not only the formation, but also the perseveration of democracy through the Constitution. This year marks 22 years since the signing of the Constitution into law in May 1996.

The Constitution has its roots in the Freedom Charter, which continues to be the foundation of democratic South Africa. The Constitution enjoins all of us to build local government that has the capacity to:

  • Provide democratic and accountable government for local communities.
  • Ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner.
  • Promote social and economic development.
  • Promote a safe and healthy environment.
  • Encourage involvement of communities and community organisations on matters of local government.

Furthermore, it is the Constitution that ensures that our country holds regular elections. Regular free and fair elections give people the opportunity to choose those who represent their aspirations in parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal councils.

President Zuma reiterates that it is the votes of South Africans that have ensured that people have continued to elect and mandate the ANC and to ensure that local government works better for the people.

“We shall work with the people to continue giving effect to their constitutional rights and thereby advancing people’s power to determine their own destinies,” states the President.

“We have ensured that those deployed in municipalities are capacitated and have the requisite skills to do their work. In cases where some ANC councillors did not perform well, we encouraged communities to hold them accountable and report their concerns.”

The President continues to reaffirm that as the ANC, “we believe that councillors must sign performance agreements. They must also report regularly to communities on their work. This will give power to the people in holding their representatives accountable and making local government work better,” citing that the ANC has a concrete plan to address slow economic growth and create jobs where our people live.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to create a better life for all. We will continue to consolidate people’s democracy and increased transparency and accountability,” — President Jacob Zuma.

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