Zuma shoots down talk of division

2008-01-12 00:00

Cape Town — ANC president Jacob Zuma yesterday dispelled suggestions that the organisation is divided, saying there are no fundamental policy differences among any members or leaders of south Africa’s ruling party.

Writing in the ANC’s weekly online Letter from the President, Zuma said the vibrant debate that is sometimes misconstrued as division is "merely differences of opinion" over implementing the party’s programme of action.

"It is a healthy phenomenon which keeps all of us on our toes," Zuma said. "We have consistently argued that the mere existence of different views — whether on questions of leadership, policy or strategy — no matter how strongly held or firmly expressed, does not mean that the organisation is divided."

Zuma’s letter, in the week in which the ANC celebrates its 96th anniversary, comes at a time when the ruling party appears more polarised than ever.

But in his first letter as organisational president, Zuma moved to stress the unity, longevity and history of the party.

He described the ANC as a "resilient organisation" that will continue to grow, fortified by the culture of "internal democracy, open debate and engagement.

"We will focus on re-inculcating that culture of a type of open debate that does not create any hostilities. We need to promote an exchange of views that makes it possible for comrades to disagree vociferously, but still remain firm comrades and friends. A culture that makes every issue open to debate and scrutiny, in a comradely manner."

The ANC looked forward to strengthening "fraternal ties with like-minded organisations in the continent, particularly in SADC, and the rest of the developing world," Zuma added.

"The ANC should continue to be a beacon of hope, and an active actor in the regeneration and rebuilding of our continent — fighting poverty, underdevelopment and general deprivation," he said.

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