Zuma uses Madiba magic on dissenters
President Jacob Zuma has used a song and Nelson Mandela’s name to disarm voices of dissent that threatened to disrupt the start of the ANC’s national congress that started in Bloemfontein this morning.
As he stepped onto the stage in the humid massive marquee that was erected on the University of the Free State’s main campus to make his speech, some members from Limpopo made the change sign.
Zuma then indicated he wanted to sing a song, quoting Mandela as having said “the road is long”.
He then erupted into song, repeating the phrase: “The road is long that we are travelling but we will meet on freedom day”, with the 4 500 delegates soon joining in.
They cheered loudly and uncontrollably as he moved.
Then he went ahead to lay down the law about the fights in the ANC’s branches about members, court cases against the party and violence and the disruption of ANC meetings as he opened the party’s Mangaung congress today.
He added: “Other alien tendencies to be eliminated from the movement as part of renewal is the negative lobbying for positions which includes smear campaigns in the media as well as gossip and rumour-mongering about one another.
“Also common are the disrespectful public spats as well as hurling insults at other comrades or members of the public, thereby bringing the ANC into disrepute.”
He also said the “shocking occurrences where armed comrades disrupt ANC meetings” raised the question “what exactly could be so much at stake that people would go so far to get their own way in the organisation”.
He condemned the violence in the party in recent weeks which has seen the killing of a regional secretary in the North West this week.
He also said, to big applause, that “we must frown upon other alien practices such as the use of money to buy the support of ANC members”.
As disgruntled members in the Free State were prepared to head for court to prevent delegates from the province from having voting rights in the conference, Zuma said the party should “revisit” members taking the party to court when they are unhappy with a particular decision.
Earlier party leaders said this would mean immediate expulsion.