No more Mr Nice Zuma after Mangaung
President Jacob Zuma has promised to rein in ill-discipline in the ANC after the party’s elective conference in Mangaung next month.
Speaking at a rally in Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape on Friday, Zuma said there would be “a change of gear” when the party returns from the conference where he and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe are expected to battle for the top position of the ANC.
This was Zuma’s clearest indication yet that he expects to be re-elected as party leader.
“This organisation believes in good behaviour among its members when they do things or when they talk politics. The ANC emphasises respect. There are those who think because the ANC is good-hearted, they can mess up as they please.
“There will be a change of gear when we return from Mangaung, because we realise that when you merely talk to a person they take it for granted this organisation is full of idiots. There will be consequences for ill-discipline after Mangaung,” he said in a mixture of isiXhosa and English.
Zuma said branches took a decision at the ANC’s 2010 national general council (NGC) in Durban that a line should be drawn that no one should cross, but members have crossed that line repeatedly.
Zuma said: “What does that show? It shows weakness in leadership. Branches took a decision but leaders did not enforce. That won’t continue after Mangaung.”
The Friday rally, which was boycotted by nearby Sterkspruit residents unhappy about lack of service delivery, took place before Zuma delivered his much-anticipated lecture on his ANC predecessor Thabo Mbeki, in Aliwal North.
Zuma described Mbeki as a leader who had played a key role during the liberation struggle, the transition to democracy and in laying the foundation for the democratic state after 1994.
He said Mbeki, who did not attend the event, ran effective international campaigns to bring to the world’s attention the plight of black South Africans and those who were fighting alongside them for economic and political justice.
During the first 10 years of democracy, Zuma said, Parliament passed 789 laws or amendments aimed at changing society.
“The dismantling of the legal framework of apartheid and the transformation of many state institutions led to the visible improvement of the socioeconomic conditions of millions of people.
“Under president Mbeki’s leadership, the ANC government managed competing interests within the economy to ensure economic growth and macroeconomic stability on the one hand, while developing a systematic expansion of social protection for vulnerable citizens on the other,” he said.
Zuma steered clear of controversial issues that threatened to split the ruling party down the middle, such as Mbeki’s decision to axe him as deputy president after the Durban high court convicted his then financial adviser Schabir Shaik of corruption.
Nor did he reflect on Mbeki’s controversial position on HIV/Aids, except to point out the improvements that have happened since Mbeki’s unceremonious ousting from office, such as the decline in mother-to-child HIV transmissions from 8% in 2008 to 3.5% last year.
He also praised the manner in which Mbeki reacted to the party’s decision to “recall” him from office in 2008, shortly before his term was due to end.
Zuma’s supporters wore T-shirts calling for his re-election in Mangaung and waved placards saying, “Zuma 100%”.