Zuma defends January 8 statement

2012-01-17 12:40

President Jacob Zuma has defended his ANC 100th anniversary speech, saying the ANC’s policy conference was there to give a vision of the future.

Delivering the John Langalibalele Dube lecture in the Free State town of Sasolburg, Zuma said he had deviated from the norm of his January 8 addresses and concentrated on the past because of the 100 year milestone.

Dube was elected the first ANC president in 1912, and the party dedicated the month of January to his memory. The remaining 11 months would be dedicated to the other 11 presidents.

Zuma described Dube as a “deeply religious man” who had led the party with “humility and poise”.

“President Dube’s legacy encapsulates African unity, self-reliance, quality education and a tireless fight for equality and freedom,” he said.

He also praised Dube’s pioneering work in establishing the Ohlange Institute and the Ilanga newspaper in the early 1900s, saying his contribution to history was to teach “us” the importance of owning media products that would tell our story “accurately” and respectfully.

“Dr Dube campaigned in Ilanga newspaper against the arrest and trial of Zulu king kaCetshwayo who was held in connection with the (Bhambatha) rebellion (of 1906).

“He raised funds for the defence of the king as he viewed the arrest as the continuation of African people at large,” Zuma said.

Dube led the ANC through a difficult period, which included the promulgation of the infamous 1913 Land Act that severely limited African land ownership.

“As the founding president of our movement, Dr Dube laid an impressive foundation of selflessness and sacrifice that has stood strong to this day.

“Without the valiant actions of Dr Dube and his contemporaries, we would not be standing here today celebrating our freedom and marking of selfless service of the ANC,” he said.

Zuma said the fact that Dube’s leadership was contested by two other candidates in 1908 showed that a leadership contest was not a crisis.

Dube’s grandchildren attended the lecture, held at Sasolburg’s Ettie Rossouw Theatre.

The local ANC leadership presented them with Basotho blankets and hats, while a local businesswoman gave Zuma a cow and bull.

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