King calls for ANC unity

2018-01-08 13:45
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa (right) executes Zulu dance moves with King Goodwill Zwelithini, urging him on during a visit to the Osuthu Palace in Nongoma on Sunday.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa (right) executes Zulu dance moves with King Goodwill Zwelithini, urging him on during a visit to the Osuthu Palace in Nongoma on Sunday. (Clive Ndou)

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WATCH: Ramaphosa asks for 'ANC unity' ahead of birthday celebration

2018-01-08 14:09

Newly elected African National Congress President, Cyril Ramaphosa, called for unity in the ANC when addressing a crowd in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, ahead of the ANC's 106th Birthday Celebrations. Watch. WATCH

Durban - Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini on Sunday urged his subjects to embrace Cyril Ramaphosa as the new leader of the ANC.

“From what I know ethnicity has never been a factor when electing ANC leaders. It would be wrong to make it an issue now that Ramaphosa, a Venda by ethnicity, has been elected president. I don’t want anyone to make the fact that he is a Venda an issue,” he said.

Zwelithini, who met Ramaphosa at the King’s Royal Palace in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, was speaking a few days after a section of traditional leaders in the province had threatened to create chaos should President Jacob Zuma be jailed.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is due to decide whether to reinstate criminal charges that were withdrawn by former acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe in 2008.

During their meeting with Zuma at the Durban City Hall on Friday, the traditional leaders had claimed that they had a duty to protect him as he was one of their own.

However, Zwelithini told the ANC delegation, which also included members of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) that had campaigned against Ramaphosa’s election, to work with Ramaphosa and the new party leadership.

“The citizens of this country have expectations from the ANC. It can’t be correct that the ANC leaders are busy fighting each other instead of focusing on service delivery,” he said.

In his earlier address, Ramaphosa had painted a picture of a now united ANC following divisions caused by leadership battles in the build-up to last month’s national elective conference.

“We are proud to report to His Majesty that ANC members at conference resolved to elect a unity leadership,” he said.

However, Zwelithini appeared to be far from being convinced. The Zulu King paused in the middle of his speech and instructed members of the two factions who were present at the event, to shake hands and smoke the peace pipe. “You must embrace each other and forgive each other of all the bad things that happened before,” he said.

After a brief reluctance, Ramaphosa alongside other members of the top six leadership that included ANC deputy president David Mabuza, national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, secretary-general Ace Magashule and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile stoop up and walked to the table where members of the PEC was seated.

There were ululations in the hall as the former foes hugged and shook hands in a spirit of reconciliation.

ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, who is a known staunch Zuma supporter, provincial ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala and Premier Willies Mchunu were among the ANC leaders in the province who smoked the peace pipe with Ramaphosa and his team.

Zuma, who has been blamed for, amongst other things, the country’s economic woes, could be recalled as the president of the country as early as Wednesday when the ANC’s newly-elected national executive committee (NEC) holds its inaugural meeting.

While Magashule said the purpose of Sunday’s meeting was for Ramaphosa to be introduced to the ANC’s top leadership, sources within the ANC have claimed that party leaders wanted to use the meeting to gauge the extent of the fallout in the province that could be caused by Zuma’s recall.

“The leadership is worried about a possible backlash from Zuma’s supporters in KwaZulu-Natal and hence the decision to visit the king. They want to make sure that communications lines are open should there be resistance from ordinary people on the ground,” a source within the NEC said.

Ramaphosa and the ANC national top leadership will visit various places in Durban and Pietermaritzburg in Monday.

Read more on:    anc  |  king goodwill zwelithini  |  pietermaritzburg

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