Succession race not a battle for the ANC’s soul – Zuma

2011-07-15 13:07

The ANC’s succession race is not a battle for the party’s soul, President Jacob Zuma said today.

“There are no problems. It would not be a living organisation, it would be artificial if we ... had no diverse views on matters as well as on preferences in terms of who leads,” he said.

Zuma was speaking at the launch of the ANC’s centenary celebrations at Constitution Hill.

It is uncertain whether he will serve a second term as president.

The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) apparently wants him replaced by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe when the ANC holds its national elective conference in December 2012.

“The ANC has leaders, many capable leaders, and the ANC exercises democracy,” said Zuma.

“It’s only in the ANC ... where the leaders can talk about the leadership while there is an incumbent.

“You don’t do that in other organisations, but in the ANC you can, because we are all democrats.”

The succession debate has not officially opened.

While the ANC has said the matter should remain closed until the appropriate time, the ANCYL and the ANC in Gauteng want succession talks opened.

Zuma said today that he would rest easy and enjoy the ANC’s centenary celebrations because he understood the nature of the ANC.

“Certainly, I’ll be celebrating it even more excitedly. I think our generation is lucky to be the ones that are the leadership of the ANC when it completes its centenary,” he said.

Earlier, Zuma said the ANC’s multiracial character should be further entrenched as it turned 100 in January.

He said the ANC had always been characterised by unity, and that this was not limited to the unity of Africans, but applied to people of all races in South Africa.

Writing in his newsletter on the ANC website, Zuma said the centenary celebrations should refocus everyone on the party and what it stands for, its culture, tradition, and its legacy.

The celebration programme was one of the most critical ANC campaigns ever run and the party’s leadership was privileged to be entrusted with the responsibility of organising it.

It would help remind the people and the world of the ANC’s pivotal role in the life of the country and that of the continent.

Now that the party was turning 100, it would have to be “more serious about protecting and projecting our image, history, traditions, culture, and character properly”.

“It means that we must show to all that we are the oldest liberation movement in Africa, and therefore our conduct and behaviour must reflect the maturity of our organisation.

“When we celebrate 100 years, we must ensure that we inculcate and instil the best values of our movement which have sustained us for such a long period.

“Part of those traditions and culture include the unity of the ANC, unity with its alliance, maintaining the multi-class character of the ANC, its democratic nature, internationalist as well as its non-racial and non-sexist character,” Zuma said.

These were the values which had sustained the ANC for the past 99 years.

When we celebrate our 100 years next year, these must be stronger than ever.

“What is most important about the centenary celebrations is that it will give us an opportunity to articulate as a movement what is it that we think of ourselves and where we come from,” he said.

The campaign would focus on recruitment and political education.

“We want to achieve both the quantity and the quality of our membership,” Zuma said.

The ANC experienced a drop in support among minority communities in the local government election earlier this year, losing former ANC minority strongholds such as Lenasia and Eldorado Park.

The party conceded that this might have been caused by comments by ANCYL president Julius Malema, who described whites as criminals before the election.

Government spokesman Jimmy Manyi was quoted as saying there was an overconcentration of coloured people in the Western Cape.

Yesterday Zuma said the ANC would celebrate all those who had contributed to the struggle for freedom and democracy in the run up to its centenary and during the rest of 2012.

Most important among these were the party’s alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and Cosatu. 

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