ANC: New president thanks supporters at Greytown party

2007-12-24 00:00

THE newly elected president of the African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma, has vowed that he will remain humble, open to criticism and accessible to the masses.

Zuma was addressing his supporters in Greytown yesterday during his first rally after being elected president of the ruling party last week.

The celebration rally, organised by the ANC’s Bhambatha region and Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi, was to celebrate Zuma’s recent victory over his rival Thabo Mbeki.

“I will not disappoint [ANC members]. I will remain the same Gedleyihlekisa [his Zulu name], and will remain accessible to the people. You should also not be afraid to call me to order when you feel I’m straying from the right path,” he said.

Zuma also sought to give an assurance that he is ready to lead the country, saying “we will not fail to govern when the time comes”.

“Of course some people are not happy, saying how can an uneducated person from Nkandla lead the country. However, when the same person was fighting for freedom nobody said we will not achieve freedom because an uneducated Nkandla man is fighting for that cause.”

Zuma thanked the delegates who attended the recent ANC conference in Polokwane, saying they carried the mandate given to them by their branches and avoided attempts to sway their views.

He also thanked Inkosi Zondi of the Zondi clan, saying the inkosi was by his side during some of the trying times in his life, including his rape and corruption trials.

More than 10 cows were slaughtered at the inkosi’s residence for the ceremony, and a bull was slaughtered especially for Zuma.

Philani Mavundla, the chairman of the ANC’s Bhambatha region and an ardent Zuma supporter, said ANC councillors in Greytown will pass a motion that the freedom of the town be given to Zuma, a statement welcomed by loud cheers from the crowd.

Other dignitaries at the function included Msunduzi Mayor Zanele Hlatshwayo, Sanco deputy president Ruth Bhengu and Sihle Zikalala, the secretary-general of the ANC Youth League.

Zikalala said now that Zuma is president of the ANC, all ANC members in government need to account to him. “The ANC does not account to government [but] it is the government that should account to the ANC. The ANC is not the extension of the Union Buildings,” he said.

A similar party organised by the eThekwini region of the ANC was held outside the Suncoast casino on Saturday. Zuma, however, could not be part of those celebrations.

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