Bloemfontein — ANC President Jacob Zuma vowed on Thursday to root out factionalism and to "deal" with dissidents and members challenging the ruling party in court.
"Through political education and cadre development as well as decisive action against ill-discipline, we will be able to root out all the tendencies that we have identified over the years," he said in his closing address to the African National Congress' 53rd national elective conference in Mangaung in the Free State.
"These include factionalism, the sowing of disunity and confusion within the movement, the use of money to buy members, positions or influence in the organisation, the hurling of insults or even worse, the attacks on members of the ANC."
Zuma announced that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who failed in his bid to challenge the presidency at the conference, would head up a political education programme for the party.
"We must move away from saying how important political education is, to actually implementing the decisions...
"We will be able to deal with the comrades who disrupt ANC meetings and those who want the ANC to be now run on technicalities and through the courts."
He said he discussed the political education programme with the newly elected deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Motlanthe, the former deputy president of the party.
"We are pleased to announce that former deputy president Motlanthe will lead this crucial ANC political education programme. We thank the former deputy president," said Zuma, to applause from delegates.
He said the ANC would be building "cadres who respect actions taken by the movement to enforce discipline against others, who know the implications of working with members who have been expelled from the organisation, assisting them to undermine the organisation.
"There must be consequences for such ANC members," said Zuma.
Zuma referred back to the Polokwane conference when the ANC assumed that all members were in agreement with the outcome and that the party members would work for unity.
He said the process of collectively understanding the democratic principles and internal democracy that prevailed within the movement was not monitored.
"We must not repeat that mistake."
Zuma said unity within the ANC would not happen automatically and its members would have to work hard for it.
Zuma reminded delegates ANC members had a right to be nominated for any position in the movement and to accept or decline nominations.
"Therefore, no member or leader of the ANC should be ostracised for exercising their democratic rights as members," said Zuma.
Turning to the Leagues of the ANC, Zuma said they should implement the work and resolutions of the Mangaung conference, the final version of which was yet to be released.
"There are other very important outstanding organisational issues for us to look at in the new year.
"For example the conference has in its wisdom, taken a decision that the incoming NEC must discuss the matter of the ANC Youth League. We appreciate that decision and the spirit in which it was taken."
He congratulated the newly elected leadership of the ANC and thanked the outgoing leaders.
He also wished former president Nelson Mandela well, saying he was in good care as he spent a 13th day in hospital.
Zuma broke into song as he ended his closing address.
"It's a long walk, Mandela said to his followers. We will meet on freedom day," he sang.
Delegates in the marquee joined in as they waved African National Congress flags and blew whistles and danced.
They cheered as Zuma repeated the song, which he also sang when he opened the conference on Sunday.