Ramaphosa plans on engaging party veterans, in contrast to Zuma

Johannesburg – In a move that contrasts sharply with how his predecessor, President Jacob Zuma, managed the relationship with the ANC's veterans, party president Cyril Ramaphosa has invited ANC elders to participate in the party.

Speaking at an ANC gala dinner on the eve of the January 8 celebrations, Ramaphosa took 20 minutes of his speech to detail what he said would be his programme in his first year in power.

In Zuma's presence, Ramaphosa said he was planning on engaging with veterans and ANC elders to ensure that they are part of the organisation.  

"In order to continue to be the movement we are, the movement of our people, we must, therefore, be able to do this throughout the year."

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During the ANC policy conference in June 2017, while delivering his speech, Zuma took jabs at elders and veterans who were asking him to step down following a Constitutional Court judgment that he had flouted the Constitution.

Zuma fell short of calling party elders, including Andrew Mlangeni and the late Ahmed Kathrada, ill-disciplined, saying instead that they overestimated their influence.

'New leadership has brought hope'

Speculation has been rife that Ramaphosa and Zuma have had closed meetings to discuss his exit as head of state. Some within the ANC national executive committee are calling for Zuma's early exit. Zuma has shown no sign that he intends to resign.

Ramaphosa said party leaders would embark on a pilgrimage which would take them to communities and community leaders as well as royals.

He praised a recent pilgrimage by party leaders who visited Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and lay wreaths at the graves of ANC leaders including Oliver Tambo.

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The election of a new ANC leadership had unleashed a great deal of hope within South Africans with no choice but to unite, he said.

"We see unity in action. We see a leadership united. We have got a different view. We have diverse talents. Gender distribution is almost what we want it to be... This leadership received a clear mandate from conference delegates who said they want to see this leadership united."