The ANC will dedicate its campaign for this year’s local government elections to its ten members who perished in a horror bus accident while returning from the party’s manifesto launch in Port Elizabeth last Saturday, president Jacob Zuma told hundreds of mourners who converged at the Ke-ditselana multi-cultural village in Vosloorus to pay their last respects to the departed ANC cadres.
Nine of the Ekurhuleni 10 were laid to rest on Saturday at the South Park cemetery in Boksburg – the same place where former SACP and ANC leader Chris Hani was buried 20 years ago. The tenth member will be buried in KwaZulu Natal.
Zuma used his address to call for unity within the ANC, saying the party could not lead people when “we are not speaking in the same voice”.
“We must proudly tell the story of the good strides that the ANC has made.
We must dedicate our lives to serving and defending the ANC at all times,” said Zuma.
The Constitutional Court judgment which found Zuma failed to uphold the constitution when he failed to comply with the public protector’s remedial action to pay back a portion of the R246-million used for security upgrades at his rural home in Nkandla, has deepened divisions within ANC. Some senior ANC leaders have called for him to step down at a result of the judgment.
The ANC provincial executive committee in Gauteng has led the charge in calling for Zuma to resign, saying his public apology was not enough and that his continued stay in office would impact negatively on the ANC’s election campaign. This was despite the decision by the ANC’s top six and the party’s national working committee to accept Zuma’s apology and keep him on as president.
On Satuday Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule and umKhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) leader Kebby Maphatsoe took a swipe at the Gauteng leadership for calling for Zuma’s head.
“There is only one ANC. We don’t have many ANCs. When the national executive committee has spoken, all of us must tow the line. The enemy wants to divide us. The ANC must lead and unite,” Magashule said to loud applause.
He lambasted ANC veterans and religious leaders who have called for Zuma to resign. “We respected [former] ANC leaders when they were leading. They must respect the current leadership and give us the space to govern,” said Magashule.
He added that religious leaders should focus on the affairs of the church rather than entering the political sphere.
“We as church members have not expressed any view about the leadership of the ANC, but religious leaders are telling us President Zuma must resign. They must focus on the affairs of the church.”
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said ANC members must ensure the lives of the departed ANC cadres were not lost in vain by campaigning for the ANC to win all municipalities in the next local government elections in August.
He said the Ekurhuleni 10 would have a good story to tell when they meet late ANC heroes like Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sizulu, Govern Mbeki, Hani and others in the next life.
“They will meet ANC leaders there [in heaven]. And they [the late ANC leaders] will ask how is the ANC doing. They will ask how is President Zuma leading the country. They [the Ekurhuleni 10] will respond that the ANC is strong and will win local government elections. They [the Ekurhuleni 10] will tell them [the late ANC leaders] that the ANC has built almost 4-million houses for the people of South Africa. They will tell them more than 86 percent of homes have electricity. They will tell them life expectancy has improved. They will tell them they went to listen to the manifesto and that having listened to it, they were convinced the ANC will win all municipalities,” said Ramaphosa.
He urged ANC supporters to celebrate the lives of the Ekurhuleni 10 like they did Mandela and others.
Ramaphosa said he was convinced the ANC would never lose the elections. ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile said the ANC was left poorer without the Ekurhuleni 10 and has urged all members to campaign hard for the ANC to win the elections in their honour.