Former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa’s letter to the ANC, in which he called the party corrupt.
Zuma said some members may be corrupt, but not the party as a whole.
“It’s not a secret the president wrote a letter, saying the ANC is the number one corrupt organisation in country. He said he was writing this to all the members of the ANC. I think we demonstrated that our power and political understanding are weak, because the ANC, in my view, is not corrupt,” he said.
Zuma was speaking in Umhlanga, north of Durban, where the South African National Civic Organisation Youth Congress belatedly celebrated his 79 th birthday – which was on 12 April.
Zuma said the party, as a whole, could not be defined as corrupt, but he conceded there were challenges with some members.
“There can be members of the ANC, who are corrupt, but not the ANC. I was waiting for people to say, ‘no Mr President’, but we were all quiet. Luckily, I told him when we met, that comrade President you were speaking to me in this letter because you said all members and, as a member, I responded and disagreed.
“I said because you’ve written a letter that has been read by the whole nation I’ll also write a letter for the whole nation. I’m just making a point here that there’s something within us that, when there’s something wrong, we just watch.”
He said there were some in the ANC national executive committee, “who said there was nothing wrong with the president’s letter”.
“At the end, I want us comrades to have a discussion. We can’t fix things overnight, just like how the struggle didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time.
“The ANC was the first organisation in Africa created to fight for freedom, but it became the last organisation to get freedom. What caused the ANC to be first to fight, but the last to be free. If we don’t know that, then we still have a lot of work to do.”
Ramaphosa wrote an open letter to ANC members in late August 2020, saying the party stood as accused number one and that some of its leaders stand accused of corruption.
Branches must do more
Zuma said ANC branches had to reclaim their power.
Addressing the small group of mostly young people, he discussed the power of ANC branches.
Zuma said he wanted branches to speak less and act more.
“There’s something I’m not satisfied with. When we speak, we say the power is in the branches, but we’re the same people who deprive branches of power. What a state the world is in right now, where leadership is talking this much, but have the branches ever spoken?
“Instead of letting them speak, we have reduced them with this thing is called ‘interims’ who are in charge. They lead, but they were not elected; they are put in those positions and so they doubt their powers,” he said on Thursday.
Zuma said ANC branches were not being properly utilised.
“The branches are not using their powers, that’s my complaint. This is an old disease. As soon as we elect someone, they try to rule us. It’s no longer us who rule them, it’s vice versa.
“We answer to them, they don’t answer to us. I’m saying all of this because I’m old. When I go up to other old people, they will ask me, ‘Zuma, in what state did you leave the ANC?’. What will I say to that?”