ANC unity 'doesn't mean closing ranks at all costs' - Ramaphosa

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ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Simphiwe Nkwali, Gallo Images
  • The ANC in the Northern Cape elected its leadership during its provincial conference on Saturday.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the event, calling for unity based on the values of the party.
  • Ramaphosa said members should by right be "appalled" by any elected leader who "defies the movement".

President Cyril Ramaphosa says unity in the ANC "does not mean closing ranks at all costs and at all times".

Speaking at the Northern Cape's ninth provincial conference on Saturday, he said the party was "going through a period characterised by instances of ill-discipline, disrespect for organisational norms and values and resistance".

"This is not unexpected. Any project of renewal and rebuilding will encounter resistance from those who benefitted from the deviant practices of the past."

Ramaphosa is himself at the centre of a power struggle for the party's leadership, with Ace Magashule taking it on over his suspension as secretary-general.

His suspension was characterised by confusion, with the criminally charged secretary-general claiming his suspension of Ramaphosa superseded his own for refusing to step aside from his position at Luthuli House.

ALSO READ | Ace Magashule's suspension letter 'an ill-informed distortion of the truth' - Ramaphosa

The party's NEC agreed that any member facing criminal charges should step aside from their positions in the party.

Ramaphosa said he was referring "to a principled unity based on the positions and values of our movement".

He said:

Unity does not mean that we must close ranks at all costs and at all times. When a comrade is denigrating or attacking the ideals and mission of our movement then we need to call that comrade to order.

"Calling out wrong or deviant behaviour, that demeans the standing of the ANC, is protecting the ANC. Protecting the ANC is a constitutional imperative. When we join the ANC, we voluntarily assume the duty to protect and defend the movement, its aims and policies."

He added when one assumed a leadership position in the ANC, members were right to believe that "[a] comrade has a more advance understanding of the rights and duties of an ANC member".

"They would be well within their rights to be appalled when such a leader defies the movement and undermines its standing and unity."

ALSO READ | Attempt to delay ANC's Northern Cape elective conference is 'factionalism and nothing else' - Saul

Delegates attending the conference elected Zamani Saul as chairperson, Bentley Vass for the deputy chairperson position and Daluxolo Ngxanga as the secretary.

"The ANC is confident that the rest of the provincial executive committee that will emerge from this conference will be equal to the task of leading the province towards unity, renewal and transformation," ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

Addressing the issues of Covid-19 in the country, Ramaphosa said they have identified Covid-19 as the "challenge and the enemy" that they have to defeat.

"Our country is entering the third wave and the rising Covid-19 infections are just going up and we must do everything in our power to mitigate against this impact.

"We are once again going to remind South Africans to remain vigilant and protect themselves and each other," he added.

During his address, the president highlighted five priority areas for the ANC this year.

These included defeating Covid-19, setting the economy on a path of renewal and recovery, the renewal of the ANC, strengthening local government and building a "better Africa and a better world".

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