Zuma goes on the attack during his opening address at ANC conference

2017-12-16 19:32
President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has not shied away from rebuking those he feels were not amenable to his tenure as president of the ANC, including the media and his alliance partners.

Zuma opened the party's national elective conference in Nasrec, Johannesburg, on Saturday with his political report. 

The outgoing ANC president did not hold back from slamming multiple players he felt were actively working against the ANC, starting with the party's Veteran's League.

"It was never in the mind of the organisation that this could be a vehicle to be used to cause more problems in the ANC.

"I'm an outgoing president, and my major operations now will be, among others, with the veterans. I will remind my comrades that their main purpose is to help the movement. 

"Not to be part of the helly-belly of the problems of the movement."

Zuma described the Veteran's League as a "crucial" structure that should provide rearguard support to the movement.

"So, when the bigger body has problems, they can refer the issues and say, 'help us, we have a problem here'. We cannot be part of the problem."

The Veteran's League has been critical of Zuma, and has called on the National Executive Committee to recall him. 

SACP, Cosatu

Next up were the ANC's alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions, which both publicly called for Zuma to resign earlier this year.

"Let me not forget Cosatu... The tensions that have built up over the years, at times as a result of dissatisfaction with the policy instruments adopted by the ANC and its government, have now come to a head.

"In an unprecedented move, we saw in the past few months our alliance partners marching side by side with right-wing forces who are historical opponents of our democratic revolution, calling on the president of the ANC to step down."

He also bemoaned the decision taken by Cosatu to "bar the president of the ANC from attending or addressing any of their gatherings", as well as the May Day rally, where he was booed by Cosatu members.

He was more conciliatory in tone towards the SACP, acknowledging that the party had resolved to contest elections on its own.

"Hardly three weeks ago, the SACP contested elections on its own, working against the ANC in the Metsimaholo Local Municipality in the Free State. 

"This conference must discuss these new developments and provide direction, having given due regard to the proposals of the SACP around the reconfiguration of the alliance, in line with the new conditions of struggle."

Civil society, private sector, media

The private sector, civil society and the media were not let off the hook either.

"We should also be mindful of the fact that media is an active participant, with vested interests, rather than impartial observers of the organisation," he said.

"The mobilisation of the media against the ANC and the country, from Johannesburg to London to Washington DC, has gained momentum in recent months.

"We need to reflect on how to communicate with our people, in a climate where forces hostile to our organisation control the means."

He also slammed those ANC members who had "actively used the media to fight personal battles against the ANC", damaging the party in the process.

Zuma welcomed the role non-government organisations have played in the country, but claimed there was a sporadic "emergence" of NGOs which were hostile.

"Some NGOs appear to fight the ANC, and appear to be well resourced, and constantly take government to court to fight political battles.

'I did my best'

"We have also seen unusual activism from the private sector lately, with the support of such formations and big business of taking the unusual step of encouraging workers to leave work with full pay and march against the government," Zuma said. 

"The same employers adopt a no-work, no-pay stance when the same employees demand higher wages."

Other formations appeared to "exist to protect white privilege", by pretending to protect the interests of the poor and working class.

At the end of his speech, however, Zuma declared that he bore "no grudge" against any member of the party that had called for him to go.

"I understand that this is politics, and you are entitled to your views," he said.

"I tried my best." 

As he concluded, the delegates gave him a standing ovation, with some members chanting, "Zuma! Zuma! Zuma!"

Visit our special report, #ANCVotes, for all the news, analysis and opinions about the ANC’s national elective conference.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  anc votes  |  anc leadership race

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