Zuma urges West Cape ANC unity
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma on Saturday urged the ANC in the Western Cape to put unity ahead of individual leadership interests.
Addressing the ANC's much-postponed provincial conference, Zuma had harsh words for delegates, saying the meeting was taking place at a time when the party in the province was facing its most acute challenges.
In an apparent reference to the leadership battle between the factions of former provincial chair Mcebisi Skwatsha and Deputy International Relations and Cooperation Minister Marius Fransman, Zuma said the most capable leader had to be democratically elected at the conference.
The problem in the Western Cape was that "we discuss the names" before the serious problems facing the ANC in the province, which was the actual purpose of such conferences.
Conferences could start problems if members did not understand their purpose and used them to deepen agendas of their own, manipulating the conference to "produce the wrong results", he said.
Discussion about the leadership had become the single most important issue and was taking precedence over discussion about the state of the ANC in the province and taking stock of this.
The conference was preoccupied with one thing only - voting for the leadership - instead of looking to the upcoming local government elections and the task of wresting power in the province from the Democratic Alliance.
"That is a sickness that kills this organisation," he said.
The ANC in the Western Cape had been "fighting itself", giving other parties the opportunity to win elections as ANC supporters stood back because of the infighting.
"We have even failed as an opposition [to the DA] in the Western Cape."
The ANC did not have the time to be an effective opposition because "we are dealing with one another", Zuma said.
Support for the party in the province had drastically declined all over and new membership was growing very slowly.
This should be of concern to all serious ANC members, but the ANC in the province was spending more energy and time on one another.
The Western Cape was the only province in which the ANC was promoting internal differences.
What was happening in the province threatened the ANC's core principle - the unity of the movement - thus weakening the party.
"This is a painful truth," he said.
The Western Cape ANC needed visionary and revolutionary leadership that understood the centrality of unity.
The task was to build the ANC to win the local government elections and then the province.
To achieve this, unity was of the utmost importance.
He called on the conference to open space for strengthening the ANC in the Western Cape.
Thus, it was important that the leadership emerging from the conference receive the unqualified support of all members, Zuma said.