ANC celebrates 107 years but tensions remain

Earlier in the day, President Cyril Ramaphosa had attended a church service at the Central Methodist Church in Durban. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Earlier in the day, President Cyril Ramaphosa had attended a church service at the Central Methodist Church in Durban. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

As the ANC celebrates its 107th year and party leaders push the narrative of unity, tensions remain between factions within the governing party.

Supporters from across the country have gathered in Durban to mark the occasion and hear the annual January 8 statement, which President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver as ANC president.

The party has launched a programme in Durban to mark its establishment and to announce its official election manifesto. However, it has not been without incident.

When ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Sihle Zikalala greeted former party president Jacob Zuma and current leader Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, the crowd gathered in a tent at the Ohlange Institute in Durban cheered in support of the former but kept mum for his successor.

Zikalala took to the podium, echoing what Ramaphosa has been preaching since he became president: party members must be united.

Earlier in the day, Ramaphosa had attended a church service at the Central Methodist Church in Durban. He described the ANC as a “soaring eagle” with two “strong wings” carrying it: one of unity and one of renewal.

But in his speech before church congregants, Ramaphosa also asked the church for guidance when the ANC “loses its way”.

“When we get lost, you must show us the way,” Ramaphosa said.
“We are a secular organisation and it can happen sometimes that we lose our way.”

Quoting a verse from the Book of Chronicles, Ramaphosa said: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.”

Ramaphosa seemingly referred to Zuma’s controversial leadership as he spoke of the way in which the ANC had deviated from its route under the former president.

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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