In an attempt to capture more of the action, the party has organised a “people’s assembly”, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said in Cape Town yesterday.
Speaking in his capacity as the member of the ANC’s national executive committee responsible for the party’s campaigns, Mbalula said the people’s assembly would convene before the State of the Nation speech tomorrow.
“It is our endeavour not to become onlookers and entertain what opposition parties and everybody else does as though we don’t have a programme of action,” said Mbalula.
The people’s assembly would ensure, he said, that the ANC was not regarded as “an elitist organisation”.
“For years we have allowed all sorts of people to come and gather in parliament, protest and do all what they do.
“All we [did], because we are a ruling party, was to put on our nice suits and lock ourselves inside and leave our people outside,” said Mbalula.
As part of the people’s assembly campaign, the party will require its public representatives to dedicate three days of their time every month to interacting with people and helping them solve their problems.
“To us, the people’s assembly is about radical economic change. The ANC has decided that parliament and all institutions of the state are not going to be isolated ivory towers.”
Party leaders are expected to speak in the lead up to the Zuma’s speech.
Zuma yesterday conceded that the South African economy was not growing fast enough to make a significant contribution to alleviating its problems.
He was speaking to business and union leaders at a lunch in Cape Town.
He said the government expected economic growth of only 1.3% this year.
But, Zuma said, unemployment stood at 27.1%, its highest since June 2004.