President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the ANC’s annual January 8 speech at the Ohlange Institute in Inanda, eThekwini on Tuesday afternoon.
Before delivering the speech, Ramaphosa thanked and acknowledged Zuma, who was present, for being part of the celebrations.
“We thank you Nxamala [Zuma’s clan name] for being here,” Ramaphosa said in IsiZulu, adding: “A lot of people have been saying President Cyril Ramaphosa is going to meet with Nxamalala to shout at Nxamalala, I don’t know where they are getting that from because there is not shouting between me and Nxamalala, we get along very well.”
Ramaphosa said he and Zuma had worked together in the party from as far back as when Ramaphosa was voted in as the party’s secretary-general in 1991 and Zuma was his deputy.
The ANC president said he and his predecessor had been part of the negotiations that resulted in a democratic South Africa.
“After that, he [Zuma] was elected as the deputy president and after that he became president and served for five years and after that he said to me I should come along to work with him and I became his deputy,” Ramaphosa said to loud applause.
Ramaphosa said that, as the incumbent president of the ANC, he was going to assign Zuma various tasks with the organisation, which he would be happy to do.
“Former presidents are given tasks within the party and are sent to go fix certain problem areas, and do this and that, because they are masterminds. They are the ones we look to and say they are masterminds because they have experience, they have knowledge, they know the history of the organisation,” Ramaphosa said.
The ANC president said he was one of the luckiest presidents in recent years because the two predecessors who came before him, Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, were still alive, as well as Kgalema Motlanthe, whom he consults.
In an earlier response to the article in the Sunday Times, Zuma used his Twitter account to accuse the paper of once again allegedly lying about him.
He tweeted: “You keep lying about my name @SundayTimesZA whose agenda are you serving? Are you unable to sell your newspaper without mentioning the Zuma name? I am still awaiting the title deed.”
The paper reported that Ramaphosa had requested a meeting with Zuma to discuss a number of pertinent issues ahead of the launch of the party’s election manifesto in Durban.
Ramaphosa was reportedly expected to raise concerns about the public comments made by Zuma, mainly on his Twitter account, as these were often seen as going against the ANC grain.
He had also reportedly been advised to discuss state capture and the numerous cases Zuma is currently embroiled in.
According to the publication, there have been fears that some Zuma supporters might try to embarrass Ramaphosa, as the manifesto launch will be happening in an area considered to be a Zuma stronghold.
They previously refused to support many ANC actions in favour of planning their own, centred on Zuma.
The party’s national spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, described the scheduled meeting as a mere consultation, comparing it to Ramaphosa’s other meetings with past ANC leadership.