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KZN support for Zuma based on being 'a popular leader'

Sapa

ANC KZN chair Zweli Mkhize says President Zuma gained the party more support because he is popular, and not because he appeals to his home province.

The ANC's KwaZulu-Natal chair says President Jacob Zuma is popular. (Gallo)

He added that Zuma continued to play a leadership role as a father figure.

"The support that was generated by popularity of the president at national level has had a more or less similar impact across all provinces, due to his widespread appeal across different communities," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The assertion that the last surge in voter support was as a result of President Zuma hailing from KwaZulu-Natal is not entirely accurate."

KwaZulu-Natal is Zuma's home province and has the ANC's largest number of members.

Earlier this month, the party announced that the membership in the province had grown by 90 000 between January and September.

Mkhize said the growth in KwaZulu-Natal had been a steady process and reflected the stability in the province.

Target reached
In 1942, the ANC decided to achieve a target of one million members during its centenary year.

"During the centenary celebrations President Zuma announced that this target had been reached," said Mkhize.

"Coming from a province that hosts 21% of the population of the country, clearly a higher contribution was expected."

He said the ANC currently has 1.2-million members, of which 331 000 were from KwaZulu-Natal.

"It seems our sin of being the home province of the incumbent president [means] we are attracting the most adverse of commentaries."

Mkhize bemoaned those who attached tribal connotations to discredit the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and the work it had done.

He said the province had learnt some lessons since the ANC's last national elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

Unity
To achieve unity in the provinces, there needed to be strong unity at national level.

"Similarly, KwaZulu-Natal learnt that the trauma of unmanaged contest involving the topmost leadership may result in trauma within all levels in the party, with significant repercussions in the support base and society in general," said Mkhize.

"This means that there is no one in KwaZulu-Natal who has the appetite ... [for] another Polokwane-type battle in Mangaung ... There must be no blood on the floor and the integrity of the ANC must be preserved," he said.

But Mkhize said the situation at the Polokwane conference was different to what it was today.

He said the current leadership would be assessed.

"No leadership collective can preside over a term of office that will not attract both successes and failures, or praise and criticism with equal measure.

"It must count for something that the ANC has registered growth to reach the one million member mark as a sign of successful leadership," said Mkhize.

The fact that there was a better relationship between the ANC and its alliance partners – the South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions – despite huge challenges, was credit to the leadership elected in 2007, he said. – Sapa

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