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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

SACP moved too quickly to contest elections independently, says Zuma

Outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma says he will be waiting eagerly for his successor to be elected and whom he will call “my president”.

As he stressed unity on which he spoke at length, Zuma said all the seven ANC presidential candidates had the potential to be first class presidents of the party.

Zuma said whoever would be elected at the party’s 54th national conference would be accepted by all other six presidential candidates as according to an agreement he had with them. He urged the conference delegates to do likewise.

He however spent time chastising ANC alliance partners –Cosatu and the SACP – whom have shunned him and the party following their belief that he had lost control of the movement to private interests.

Zuma insisted that the SACP had moved too quickly in their decision to contest elections independently without giving the alliance an opportunity to fix its problems.

“Don’t we still need one another?” Zuma asked. “We are still in the middle of the struggle,” he added.

It is now left to the incoming ANC leadership to mend relations with its alliance partners which, the ANC has relied on over the years to beef up their election machinery.

He did not indicate whom he preferred but announced that after the recent “last supper” meeting with seven presidential hopefuls in Pretoria, they agreed to rally behind the winner in the party race.

In the meeting which was held in his official guest house in Pretoria, they agreed on the ANC principles including each accepting defeat, uniting behind the new president and abiding by the conference decisions. He urged the supporters of each of the candidates to unite as well and accept the outcomes of the conference.

“Here I am waiting for one leader to emerge who I will call my president,” Zuma said amid applause from the conference.

At the end of the conference the movement must be the winner an individual. Members could different on certain things but they should remain comrades.

The delegates and leadership would emerged from the conference united because unity was the “rock from which the ANC was founded”. He said the fact that the seven presidential candidates contested and campaign openly was proved that there was internal democracy in the ruling party. “You can pick anyone of the seven, you have a first class president,” he said.

The ANC had no traditional leader situation, but leaders were elected democratically. “We can have seven candidates but only one will be president…If you can lead, you must be prepared to be led. It demonstrates that our movement is not short of leaders,” Zuma said.

Zuma thanked the ANC and the party structures for having given him the opportunity to lead the party. “I would say I have tried my best, it has been an honour and privilege to lead this movement, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” Zuma said.

He received a standing ovation from all the delegates when he told all those who spoke ill of him that he bore no grudge against them. “I know that it is politics, you have a right and have your views,” Zuma said.


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