South Africa National Civic Organization (Sanco) held its 4th National Conference from 12-13 December 2006 in Bloemfontein, the judicial capital of South Africa. There were more than 1000 delegates from 9 provinces to the Conference. The representatives of the Chinese Association for International Understanding (CAFIU) were invited to attend the Conference. During and after the conference, CAFIU representatives had extensive contacts and exchanges of views with the officials from the concerned government departments and Tripartite Alliance and scholars and experts from academic circles, thus having deepened their understanding of Sanco.
Sanco is a mass organization with a glorious history of struggle. The black people of South African had waged a long-term anti-apartheid struggle. In 1983 the United Democratic Front was formed which united a large number of organizations of workers, women, youth and black masses to fight against the white rule. In 1991, after the United Democratic Front was disbanded, its black member organizations decided to merge and formed Sanco in 1992 to continue their struggle against apartheid system. Sanco made great contributions to the final overthrowing of the white rule and obtaining the black people¡¯s legal and legitimate rights and interests.
Sanco is an important partner of the ruling alliance in the new South Africa. After the new South Africa was born in 1994, Sanco continued to maintain its close relations of cooperation with African National Congress (ANC), Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and South Africa Communist Party (SACP) because it shares with them the common history of struggle against apartheid system and goal of ensuring better life for all the South African people. In fact it has already been an important partner of the ruling alliance. In 2002 during the ANC 51st National Congress, the ruling Party declared to continue to strengthen its relations of cooperation with Sanco, apparently identifying Sanco as the ruling alliance¡¯s important partner.
Sanco has been playing an active role in building a new South Africa. As one of the biggest civic organizations and partner of the ruling alliance in the country, Sanco with ANC, COSATU and SACP have formed ¡°Three plus one¡± ruling model, playing an active role in national building. Sanco has participated in the ruling alliance¡¯s summits and involved in the national political decision making process, and done great deal of work in safeguarding the rights and interests of the masses of ordinary people particularly in the basic services such as water, electricity and housing for the poor.
At the end of 2006, Sanco held the 4th National Conference with the central task of summing up the past working experiences and planning and laying down the future work focus. The main theme of the conference was ¡°Building a new South Africa for a better tomorrow¡± and main aim was to strengthen the organizational build-up for Sanco¡¯s sustainable development so as to enable it to do better job in the supervision of government work in social service. The conference discussed the Sanco¡¯s future overall development strategy which includes reducing poverty, protecting vulnerable groups, eradicating crimes, creating jobs, ensuring basic social service, and deepening partnership between civic society and private sector and etc. The conference held that the special focus of future work were challenges of HIV and Aids, access to social grants for poor people, skill development, renewal of morality, improvement of local service. The conference also asked for forging community links to increase private sector investments in poor communities, rural and urban areas. A prominent feature of the conference was that all the parties called on strengthening the unity of the ruling alliance. ANC Leader and President Mbeki was invited to the conference and delivered a keynote address. He described Sanco as a ¡°critical alliance partner¡± and said Sanco had a big role to play in putting to good use the government¡¯s unspent funds. COSATU and SACP also sent representatives to the conference and made speeches. They pointed out that Sanco, an ally of national democratic revolution should retain its position and influence in ruling alliance through its own efforts. Sanco leaders also spoke and repeatedly stressed the importance of alliance unity and their resolute support of ANC leading the Tripartite Alliance.
At present, Sanco is in the critical period of development facing various challenges to renew organization and refine its place and role under new situation. But it has bright prospect as a biggest civic organization with membership of 6 million and 4300 branches. We believe, Sanco will make further progress in pushing national building and racial reconciliation, promoting economic and social development, upgrading the living standards and protecting the rights and interests of the ordinary people.