Zuma looks back

2012-01-08 16:43

President Jacob Zuma’s chose to look back in his January 8 statement, delivered in front of a crowd of about 35 000 people in Bloemfontein.

Unlike previous speeches on this day, which contained an overview of the party’s plans, Zuma focused on the “long road” the ANC has travelled as a liberation movement, calling his speech “a comprehensive” statement which highlights “the journey of selfless dedication to the struggle”.

Marking the 100th anniversary of the ruling party in the Free State Stadium, Zuma thanked the countries that hosted and supported the organisation during its exile years and singled out Tanzania as a country that had been the party’s second home in those years.

Zuma attributed the survival the ANC over the past century to organisational discipline and the ability of its structures to change with the times.

“It adheres to serious discipline in general and political discipline in particular, and emphasises respect. It has strong internal democratic processes.

“It has grown not just to be a national or regional or continental organisation, it is an international organisation,” he said.

He announced that the party had realised its goal of recruiting a million members.

However, Zuma did acknowledge the pressing problems facing the organisation today, such as unemployment, poverty and social inequality.

The party would spend the next decade attending to these issues, he said.

Although he did not dwell on the internal problems, Zuma said the party would restore its values while stamping out “factionalism” and promoting “political discipline”. The broader ANC national executive committee statement talks about the need to take steps to protect the party from “the tyranny of slates, factions and money” and ensure that the organisation ... is led by the most experienced, most committed, most talented and best across generations”.

Zuma promised to “professionalise and modernise the operations” of the ANC.

» Former President Thabo Mbeki, who has been absent from ANC activities since he was recalled, was the flavour of the day, attracting a loud applause when Zuma acknowledged heads of state and “Comrade Thabo Mbeki who is here with us”. When acknowledging the ANC Youth League there was a response of “Juju, Juju, Juju”, referring to suspended league president Julius Malema.

» An attempt by people in the crowd to “distract Zuma” during his speech was stopped by officials, City Press staffers tweeted during the proceedings.

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