Zuma defends his ANC/country statement

By Drum Digital
16 November 2015

President Jacob Zuma has defended his controversial statement that he thinks the ANC is more important than the country and his organisation comes first.

However, the President sought to put a spin on the controversial statement, saying the context of it was that SA needed a “strong, cohesive and united ANC”.

“I love the ANC. It does not mean I love my country less. But, I know no other life than life in the ANC. The ANC is my life,” he said in statement issued by the ruling party.

He said the party comes first to its members. “It must come first to all members so that we can together, build an ANC that can and will continue leading this country effectively and ensure that the dividends of peace and freedom are enjoyed by all, especially the poor.”

Zuma said the country needed a conscious organisation which could take the people “to their destination”.

"The people without a revolutionary organisation, they can be in trouble, like many who have been in trouble,” he said in the statement.

He made the controversial remarks – that has drawn criticism from the public and rival politicians – at an ANC elective conference in Pietermaritzburg two weeks ago.

Here’s the statement that caused the uproar: “I argued one time with someone who said the country comes first and I said as much as I understand that I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first.”

Last week, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba tried to explain the context of the President’s statement in Parliament. He said Zuma was not wrong in his comments as he was speaking as the President of the ruling party at the time and as a leader of a liberation movement.

“He was addressing them as the ANC president, not the leader of the country. The African National Congress is a liberation movement first and a Parliamentary party second.”

However, political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said he was uncertain if the issue was of utmost importance in the minds of the people compared to material issues that the country is currently concerned about.

“But we are getting close to the elections. The elections could be anytime between 15 May and August, and politicians and their party representatives will be more sensitive to criticism that they wouldn’t usually bother with,” he said.

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