South Africa: 'We Are United,' ANC Leaders Insist As Party Marks 107 Years

Former President Jacob Zuma (left), current President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza celebrate the ANC's 107th birthday.

The ANC spent the better part of its 107th-year anniversary celebrations insisting that it was a united party and that there was no tension between its current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Zuma participated in a series of events alongside Ramaphosa to mark the birthday of Africa's oldest liberation movement on Tuesday.

This included attending a church service, visiting the ANC's founding president John Langalibalele Dube's grave and a mini rally in Ohlange, Inanda.

Zuma also received rapturous applause when he walked into the marquee where the rally was held and each time his name was mentioned by speakers on the podium. Ramaphosa received a more subdued response from the crowd.

The latter, however, defended the pair's relationship and responded to reports that he was due to reprimand Zuma over utterances that were seen as a departure from ANC policy positions.

"We've been working together for long, as you heard in 1991 I was elected secretary general. Comrade Zuma was my deputy, we worked well together, we negotiated, then there was democracy. After that, Zuma was elected deputy president, then president, he served for five years, after that, he said 'come and work with me'. Then I became his deputy, after that I was elected as president, he is here now, he is the former president," said Ramaphosa.

"We get along very well," added the ANC leader.

Ramaphosa no-go-area 'rumours' dismissed

He told crowds that he considered himself "lucky" that he could reach out to former presidents who were still alive for assistance, adding that he also had former ANC president Thabo Mbeki and deputy ANC president Kgalema Motlanthe to lean on.

"They have experience, knowledge, know the history of the organisation. So when I tell you the truth, I am one of the luckiest presidents in the recent years of the ANC."

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala lashed out at claims that the ANC's largest province was a no-go area for Ramaphosa.

"It was us who called him and said 'Mr President, such is a rumour, come be with us in the campaign' and for the entire year last year Ramaphosa was here working with us," said Zikalala.

He said claims that the volatile Moses Mabhida region was a no-go area for Ramaphosa were also a lie, saying branches there were firmly behind the elected leadership of the party. Zikalala further called on members to go out and woo former members to return to the movement.

Ramaphosa praised the leaders of the party in KwaZulu-Natal, claiming the province was the most united it has ever been.

Time to reflect

The province, which has experienced deep divisions in the past that often resulted in violence, held a successful provincial congress last year.

"We applaud you as you've also succeeded in uniting the leadership of the ANC and I am delighted that today, we are also here working with our former president, showing a real case of unity that both of us are committed to. This is what John Langalibalele Dube would have wanted," said Ramaphosa.

Earlier Ramaphosa, who has spent a great part of his presidency walking or emulating the leadership style of late ANC president Nelson Mandela, reflected on visiting the gravesite of the ANC's founding president.

He also told supporters that the national executive committee, which is the ANC's highest decision-making body, decided to reflect on the past 25 years that it has been in charge of the country.

Ramaphosa said Mandela, fondly known by his clan name, Madiba, also visited Dube's grave after casting his ballot in the first democratic elections in 1994.

"Madiba said when he was at the gravesite, 'Mr President, I have come to report to you that South Africa is free today, 27 April in 1994', after casting his vote," said Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said on Tuesday he told Dube that South Africa had changed "immeasurably" and that the lives of South Africans had "improved".

"We can report that SA is a nation among nations, as he had wished. A united, non-racial democracy founded on the principle of equal rights for all," said Ramaphosa.

He said the country now had a progressive Constitution that not only recognised injustices of the past but required that necessary measures to achieve redress were taken. He praised the country's institutions, independent judiciary, free media and active citizenry.

"Freedom has been unleashed and the darkness and the gloom that president Dube spoke about has passed," said Ramaphosa.

Source: News24

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