Addressing the closing session of the Free State ANC’s provincial conference Zuma gave his blessing to the disputed conference despite allegations of irregularities relating to the auditing of delegates.
Senior ANC provincial leaders and the ANC Youth League provincial leadership boycotted the conference which saw Free State Premier Ace Magashule controversially re-elected as ANC chairperson.
With less than six months before the ANC holds its elective conference in Mangaung in December, Zuma, who is facing a serious revolt from within the organisation is desperately seeking support from ANC provincial structures for his second term as ANC president.
The youth league and other ANC structures, including Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Northern Cape, Western Cape and a large portion of Eastern Cape, are pushing for Motlanthe to replace him.
Speaking at the Harold Wolpe lecture in the Eastern Cape last week, Motlanthe criticised the second transition document, saying it was steeped in the SACP’s Marxist jargon and failed to convey what the ANC wanted to achieve as it grappled with underdevelopment.
Direct attack on Zuma
This was seen by many in the ANC as a direct attack on Zuma, who has been championing the idea of a second transition over the past few weeks.
The majority of ANC provinces, with the exception of KwaZulu Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State, have also rejected the second transition document – which is expected to dominate discussions at the ANC policy conference this week.
In what was a clear response to Motlanthe’s criticism, Zuma lashed out at his deputy for his public critique of the document. Zuma has been using the second transition discussion document as a campaign ticket for his second term.
On Sunday Zuma said: “It is important to understand how the ANC works. The ANC produces documents first and they are discussed by working committees. Once they (the documents) are looked at by the national executive committee they are sent to branches.
“This is what we did. Comrades at leadership level had the opportunity to see them and the time to look at it, not once but three times. The NEC discussed it three times. It is inconceivable for a member of the NEC to say he is not aware of it”.
Zuma said while there was some progress in terms of transformation that the ANC needed to shift into the “second transition” to speed up job creation and service delivery or risk ending up like other African countries who had gained their liberation “but did not know what to do with it”.
Review of the Constitution
“If we don’t talk about the second transition I don’t know how we are going to face these (unemployment and the growing inequalities in the country) challenges… We need a second transition because we can’t continue with the first,” said Zuma.
Zuma hinted that the second transition may include a review of the Constitution.
“Ours was a negotiated settlement. People forget this”.
Borrowing from one of Malema’s memorable quotes Zuma said: “There were sunset clauses but no sunrise clauses (in the constitution)”.
He said: “The ANC must discuss this to help people who are suffering to understand. It is us who must bring this discussion. I do not think we must be loved by people to do that. There will be opposition all the time. That is the way of life. That’s why I am saying let’s occupy the space,” he said.
A confident Zuma then stated: “The time has come to do what must be done for our country,(and) not to make a few individuals happy.”
“Those who say second transition is not right, they must produce an alternative.”
Zuma lambasted Motlanthe for his remarks that ANC leaders should avoid spending more time praising past ANC leaders instead of articulating the vision of the current leadership to take the country forward.
“We took a decision to remember our successes in 2012 (ANC centenary celebration). It is not as if the ANC never had challenges. Some challenges made other political parties perish. The ANC did not perish.”
He said the “celebration was important to all of us” and that citizens were aware that “it was the ANC that liberated us”.
“These matters that must be celebrated by us. We are celebrating those leaders who succeeded against the odds. We celebrate the fact that we got freedom in 1994,” said Zuma.
Buoyed by the re-election of his ally – Magashule, Zuma was in a full-blown campaign mode, also launched a blistering attack on Malema, suggesting Malema was never a real ANC member because he insulted elders.
“The ANC established the ANC Youth League not the other way around. This is in the constitution of the ANC. The class of 1944 which included Anton Lembede, OR Tambo and Nelson Mandela understood this very well. They never insulted leaders, they never did this. Only those who do not have ANC in their blood do this,” said Zuma.
There was jubilation as Zuma entered the conference venue in Parys on Sunday.
With their fingers up, signaling second term for Zuma, delegates sang pro-Zuma songs for almost an hour after his arrival, on instruction of the provincial leadership who encouraged them to dance for their president.
In Zuma’s presence, members of the NEC deployed to the province including Communications Minister Dina Pule, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, also made the signal to show their support for second term for Zuma.
The provincial conference rejected wholesale nationalisation, expropriation of land without compensation, but endorsed the second transition document.
The conference endorsed the ANC’s decision to expel Malema – saying it must serve as an example to other ANC members.
Zuma warned that the ANC would have to take firm action against senior ANC leaders who dissented from the party line.