In his statement on Tuesday, at the occasion of the governing party’s 107th anniversary, President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to his predecessors in the ANC, including Jacob Zuma.
Ramaphosa’s statement was a reflection of the past 25 years, noting achievements made in providing electricity, water and better access to healthcare to more South Africans.
Zuma was seated next to Ramaphosa during the proceedings at the Ohlange Institute in Durban. When Ramaphosa rose to present the January 8 statement, he thanked Zuma for his presidency, saying he would use Zuma in own leadership.
“He is now a former president, I will use him … former presidents have experience and knowledge,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa further noted the contributions made by Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, who were also in attendance, as he listed all the former presidents of the ANC.
Zuma enjoyed rapturous cheers and applause from the crowd, while Ramaphosa received a muted response. He said, however, that Zuma’s presence was an indication that the ANC is a united party.
Ramaphosa did, however, hint at the strain that has mired the ANC in recent years. Speaking about the state of the party, the ANC president said the ANC had gone through a period where its organisational capacity had been “diminished” and the party now needed restoration.
Ramaphosa is yet to convincingly win the support of KwaZulu-Natal, where ANC structures within the province pledged their vote to the Zuma faction at the party’s elective conference in December 2017. As he concluded his speech, Ramaphosa last words were drowned out by a large group chanting: “Zuma, Zuma, Zuma!”.
The party will launch its election manifesto on Saturday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
“It will call on all South Africans to be part of an extraordinary national effort to place the country on a higher footing,” Ramaphosa said.