Zuma says disagreements do not signal a crisis
As the ANC begins its national policy conference plagued by divisions and disagreements in the party, President Jacob Zuma has said contradicting views are a normal part of any journey and do not signal a crisis.
Zuma was speaking at the ANC’s fundraising Gala dinner at the Nasrec Expo Centre, on the eve of the party’s six-day policy conference.
Acknowledging the challenges the organisation was facing he encouraged delegates not to be despondent, but to view clashing ideas as a healthy occurrence in the ANC.
“You can’t say when there is a contradiction then sekuyafiwa [all is coming to an end],” Zuma said. “Of course there are hostile contradictions so you must be able to distinguish between the two.”
This year’s policy conference is one of the longest in ANC history, with two days set aside to focus on organisational renewal.
Despite the ANC’s attempt to focus on uniting its members during the two days, the plan for organisational renewal has already seen some party veterans distance themselves from the gathering after failing to secure a standalone consultative conference.
The challenges facing the party include declining support, opposing views on policies such as radical economic transformation and the allegations of state capture in which some party members, including Zuma, are implicated.
The president, however, believed the true test would be whether the ANC would be able to emerge from the policy conference in a better state than before.
“When people are travelling a long journey they always come across difficulties and challenges along the journey,” he said. “What is important is whether those people are able to overcome those challenges”.
In addition to addressing the state of the organisation, delegates attending the policy conference will also have to formulate policies that tackle South Africa’s sluggish economy and stubborn unemployment rate.
Zuma called on party members, government and civil society role players not to allow their differences to overshadow the needs of the country and the quest to combat socio-economic inequality..