Saturday, December 16, 2017

The outgoing ANC president told delegates at the party’s national conference that factionalism had become the biggest threat to the ANC.

President Jacob Zuma addresses delegates at the ANC's 54th national conference on 16 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

Gaye Davis
Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - In his final address as ANC president Jacob Zuma has acknowledged the party is at a crossroads, with corporate greed and factionalism among the threats to the 105-year liberation movement.

But he has also lashed out at the media, civil society organisations and big business in his swansong political report to the party’s 54th national conference at Nasrec in Soweto.

Zuma told delegates that “our people are not happy with the state of the ANC” as reflected by its loss of support in the local government elections.

He told delegates factionalism had become the biggest threat to the ANC and said people were worried about corruption, crime and unemployment.

But he launched a stinging attack on the media, civil society organisations and the private sector – at the same time taking a swipe at the judiciary and suggesting that ANC MPs had gone too far in their efforts to hold the executive to account.

Zuma accused the media of having become a player rather than an impartial observer and a vehicle used “to fight personal battles” with the ANC, despite the damage this caused the party and South Africa internationally.

He accused some civil society organisations of existing only to “mobilise hostile opposition” to the ANC and the government and referred to the “unusual activism of the private sector” in supporting such NGOs.

While an “activist parliament” was necessary, Zuma said this had resulted in confusion of the ANC’s role with opposition parties and warned of the danger of personal and factional battles playing out “to the extent of the ruling party voting itself out of power” – a reference to the motion of no confidence he survived but that saw ANC MPs for the first time breaking ranks and voting in their numbers with the opposition.

Zuma also referred to judgments “that give the impression we disregard the Constitution”, saying these “set a difficult precedent”.

He lamented ANC members for taking disputes to the courts rather than solving them internally, saying this was eroding the party’s authority.

Referring to the ANC’s troubled relationship with its alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP, Zuma said delegates needed to discuss recent developments, including the SACP’s decision to contest elections on its own.

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