Cape Town – The ANC's national conference will go ahead, and the presidential hopefuls will abide by the conference's decision, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
Ramaphosa was addressing the parliamentary Press Gallery Association at a breakfast meeting in one of Parliament's members' dining halls, in his capacity as leader of government business, but the matter of the ANC conference could not be avoided.
Ramaphosa was asked what he would do after next month's conference.
"You know, after the conference, I intend to go on a little bit of a holiday, rest for this gruelling year we’ve had. Whatever the outcome is of this conference, I intend to do just that," he said.
"I don't expect disputes to come out of this conference."
Grinning broadly, Ramaphosa said one of the positive things President Jacob Zuma had done was to host the "last supper" – when he invited all the ANC presidential candidates to dine with him.
"We all had this wonderful last supper."
He said he had seen many South Africans take to social media to compare this supper to Jesus Christ's last supper, where he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot.
"This time around, I'm not sure who the Judas Iscariot is going to be," he said, to laughter.
"This last supper the president called, was a most wonderful occasion. It was warm, people hugged each other and I can promise you, no one had a dagger in their pocket," he said with a smile.
"No one. Not that I looked for it… Not even that I had one. I promise you, I don't have one."
'Whatever the branches decide, we will accept'
He said the seven presidential hopefuls had interacted very warmly.
"The president's message was, and he was very clear, he said: 'I called you all just for one thing: I just want us to have an orderly conference, a dignified conference, a conference that will proceed so well'."
He said Zuma had requested that they all encourage their supporters to behave in an orderly fashion.
He said all the candidates had agreed.
"All of us, to a man and a woman, we were saying, whatever the branches decide, we will accept.
"If I'm unsuccessful, I will gladly, unreservedly, accept the outcome of the decision of the delegates of the African National Congress. And if it is a different person who is elected to be president of the African National Congress, to lead our great movement, I will immediately pledge my support, pledge my loyalty."
Ramaphosa said he would continue to serve the ANC in whatever way was required.
"That is a pledge that I make."
He said he believed that the other candidates had made similar pledges.
"So I don't expect any disputed outcome or any outcome to be disputed, and I will certainly not want to dispute any outcome."