ANC DRIVE FOR UNITY
Ruling party to celebrate 105th birthday
ANC leaders are frantically hoping for a show of unity among all its warring factions ahead of its crucial January 8 statement to mark its 105th birthday celebrations in Soweto on Sunday.
While factions within the ANC appear to widen, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe remained upbeat that a solution to end the differences within the governing party could be achieved.
Mantashe was addressing journalists on the sidelines of the ANC special national executive committee (NEC) meeting held at St George’s Hotel in Irene, Tshwane, yesterday.
He was responding to a question on whether the January 8 rallying call for “Unity in Action” was a pipe dream.
Some want AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to take over from President Jacob Zuma, while others prefer ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take over the reins.
“It’s not a pipe dream to bring unity to the organisation; it’s what we aspire to do. You set it as an objective and invest time and energy; you achieve it if you work hard enough,” Mantashe said.
“An organisation that isn’t united is weaker, it’s very sub-optimal. When we’re united we’ll do better and we’re a better organisation.”
The ANC has vowed to fill Orlando Stadium when Zuma delivers his last January 8 statement as president of the party, after he indicated he would not stand for re-election.
Mantashe said ANC leaders had been criss-crossing Gauteng to encourage people to come to Orlando Stadium, saying it was part of their actions to listen to the concerns of the electorate, particularly those with certain dissatisfactions about the governing party.
“We have been all over… as officials of the ANC. The president has arrived today (Thursday) from home (KZN). He put in a specific apology for being at home on January 3 and 4.
“Actually, the NEC was supposed to be on the 4th but because of that apology (we moved it to Thursday). He is now here, he will be moving all over the province. So all the officials are back now and will be everywhere.”
He maintained the party was still hoping for maximum attendance at Orlando Stadium after experiencing poor attendance at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium during the national launch of the ANC local government elections manifesto in April last year.
The ANC failed to fill the 46 000-seater stadium after promising that more than 100 000 people would attend.
“We expect to fill Orlando Stadium. We always plan to fill stadiums. We like filling stadiums and overflow areas. If that doesn’t happen we get disappointed ourselves, and that’s what we are working for at Orlando Stadium.”
Giving details about Sunday’s event, Mantashe said the drafting committee for the January 8 statement had already presented their draft, and the NEC was discussing it last night. “Their focus was on the content, formulation and ensuring that it talks to the people of South Africa”.
“It points direction. By the time we present it we must know what to do next, where to move and that is the purpose of the January 8 statement. So we are busy discussing it. The whole week from January 3 we were all deployed all over, talking to communities, mobilising for January 8… for the stadium in Orlando to be full.
“This statement will give hope and direction to the activists and foot soldiers of the ANC,” Mantashe added.