“I get very happy when people criticise our policies because indeed they are participating in its development, in its evolution,” he said on Monday.
“One of the critical points [we make] as we talk about policies is that we [the ANC] believe we are not wiser than anyone.”
Zuma was talking at an ANC Progressive Business Forum Brics banquet ahead of the party’s four-day policy conference in Midrand.
He said the party considered a wide range of views, including business, when developing its policies.
“We now publish our documents for people to look at and comment and discuss and add views… I haven’t seen any other organisation doing this,” he said.
“It goes a long way to show the confidence the ANC has… That it believes people have a contribution to make. We have never deviated from that culture, we say: We are here… What are your views about South Africa?”
The media have been barred from most of the policy sessions, however, as the party does not want people in the discussions to “hold back”.
Even though the conference might adopt certain resolutions with regards to the documents, it would still consider “recommendations” before the policies were finalised at the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung at the end of the year, Zuma said.
“We will open ourselves, so that you know what is the thinking of the ANC when this conference comes to an end. But you still have an opportunity to intervene whether you think it is necessary to intervene,” he said. “Participate in the evolution of the policies that will guide this country.”
Earlier ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the party was confident its policy conference would produce “outstanding” outcomes.
“There have been very robust debates within our branches, regions, provinces [and] alliance structures, and [among] the public, on the policy,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
He said robust debate among some 3 500 delegates was to be expected.
“This is a source of excitement. The fact that people have expressed different views is indication that there will be robust debate.”
The four-day policy conference is set to start at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
The delegates consisted of branch delegates, national executive committee members, the ANC leagues, its alliance partners, deployees and business representatives.
The Brics economic grouping – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – accounts for more than 40% of the world gross domestic product. – Sapa