Johannesburg - The ANC kick-started the year promising to correct its mistakes following a dismal performance in the 2016 local government elections. President Jacob Zuma addressed thousands of party supporters at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday, delivering the National Executive Committee's January 8 statement. Despite rain, the party faithful packed the 40 000 capacity stadium, with more supporters allowed onto the pitch. The was a slight commotion during the event at the stadium's VIP suites as some supporters attempted to gain access. The matter was later resolved. #ANC105 Commotion after someone announced that people can head up to the suites pic.twitter.com/7uH3Gv8set— Lerato Sejake (@leosejake) January 8, 2017Zuma acknowledged on Sunday that people dissatisfied with the party used their voting power to punish it. "The ANC has heard the message delivered in August 2016 [in the elections]. We accept that we have made mistakes and shall correct these mistakes," Zuma said. Stop fighting each other As the party prepares for its elective conference in December, calls for unity dominated the address. The theme for the January 8 statement is 'Unity in Action'. This is as the party battles infighting and factionalism are expected to play out as the leadership contest intensifies. "Our people have told us that we come across too busy fighting one another and don't pay sufficient attention to their needs. We must give our people hope against unemployment, inequality and poverty and not against one another, Zuma said. On Saturday, News24 revealed that the ANC Women's League had decided to endorse Zuma's ex-wife and outgoing African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate for the party’s presidency.Dlamini-Zuma, who is widely seen to have the support of at least four provinces including the Free State and Mpumalanga, is expected to go up against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa who announced on a Gauteng radio station late last year that “he is ready to lead”. Economic transformation The party also committed itself to transforming the economy and creating jobs to increase the economic ownership of the black majority with a focus on infrastructure development and state-owned enterprises awarding more tenders to black small businesses. The party remains optimistic that the 2017 growth forecast of 2.9% will be achieved despite sluggish growth. It labeled the proposed minimum wage of R3 500 a month as not a living wage but "a starting point".It also reiterated that it will root out corruption in its ranks and take action against those found guilty. "When leaders and members of the ANC are corrupt and steal they are betraying the the values of the ANC, the people and our country. We will not allow this."We will root out corruption, factionalism, buying of members and gatekeeping," Zuma said. December elective conference must elect inspiring leaders This may be Zuma's last January 8 statement, as he is expected to step down when new leaders are elected in December.He called for leaders to unite the party. "ANC leaders must demonstrate a desire and commitment to serve the people," said Zuma.The president warned against members who fought for leadership positions only because they believed it was a way to access material and personal gain. "Leaders who are in positions for nefarious reasons contribute to the decline in our movement's standing."Zuma said ANC branches were the basic unit of the party, which in turn means they are the repository of decisions in the party."The power of ANC branches must not be undermined by slates and lobby groups."Alliance partners supported calls for unity during their addresses. Change the leadershipYoung ANC supporters from various provinces who had braved the rainy weather on Sunday said they wanted to see the party doing more for them.Khutso Morele from Burgersfort said he had left home on Saturday night to make sure that he did not miss the January 8th statement. He and his friends slept in the bus they had travelled in until the gates of Orlando stadium were opened. He said he was there to support the party because it had done a lot for black South Africans."[The] ANC liberated us from apartheid and our parents fought for us and we are where we are now as youth because of the ANC." Morele said, however, that he was worried about the decision making of the current leadership. "What concerns us is our leadership and the kind of decisions that they make and some of the decisions they are scared to make."The ANC is busy losing members, but we love it and we support it...all the way from Limpopo to Gauteng."Party supporters in the stadium. (Mpho Raborife, News24) Morele said the party would gain more strength again once there was new leadership."Change the leadership. I support Cyril Ramaphosa 100%. It will be better under his leadership."Other members reiterated their support for Zuma. A 70-year-old woman from Diepkloof, Soweto, told News24 that she was here to listen to what Zuma had to tell his people."I want to hear what our father has to say to us, I am here for him and his message. We love him," she said.Sibusiso Siziba travelled from Piet Retief in Mpumalanga to hear Zuma speak.The 36-year-old said said he was satisfied with Zuma’s leadership and would have loved to see him continue leading the ruling party, if he could."We would have liked to see Nxamalala continue, but if the NEC decides to choose someone else then we will support whoever they decide on."But we love Nxamalala, we would have wanted to see him continue for another term. [He] is an honest man, we have seen some changes since he came, and it’s just that things won’t change for all of us at the same time. We must be patient, things will change," he said.The EFF must celebrateEFF leader Julius Malema took aim at his former party and Zuma in his address to supporters outside the KwaZulu-Natal's Westville prison in a show of support for detained student leader, Bonginkosi Khanyile.Malema previously said those who went to the ANC celebrations were traitors. Malema addressing EFF supporters in KZN. (Amanda Khoza, News24) He said on Sunday that the ANC was "hurting". "They are in trouble. Look at what happened in Soweto today [Sunday]. One hundred to 200 buses from KZN to Soweto. [In] a place that has six million people, they are there waiting for anything to happen. But you go and fetch people from Nkandla go to a rally in Soweto," he said"The taking of people from all over to fill up a small stadium Orlando Stadium - the EFF must celebrate [that] because the ANC used to hold rallies at FNB [stadium], and the arrival of the EFF has removed the ANC from the FNB to Orlando Stadium. "To see them in Orlando Stadium is enough. We are celebrating, we have humbled them. They now know what it means." The ANC's 'last gasp'The Democratic Alliance said on Sunday that Zuma speech was a sign of the ruling party's doom."The ANC showed today [on Sunday] that it is beyond the point of no return," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement. "Jacob Zuma's speech… was the tell-tale last gasp of a dying organisation."Maimane suggested that a "humble and introspective reflection" would have been more welcome – along with a "meaningful commitment to effect real and substantive internal change".Instead, he branded Zuma's address as a "rose-tinted 'good story'"."While the rest of the country is looking forward, the ANC can only but fondly recall its former glories."