Dlamini Zuma told hundreds of ANC supporters in Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal, that unity in the party was more important than the candidates. She was in her home region of Harry Gwala to deliver a memorial lecture on struggle stalwart Stephen Dlamini, her treason trial relative who also served time on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.
“We must never allow candidates to say you are my person. I never owned a comrade, and I never disowned a comrade,” she said.
ANC leaders who also attended the gathering denied the widely held notion that Dlamini Zuma was in the province to mobilise branches to vote for her to succeed President Jacob Zuma in December. It is believed that she would be battling against Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the position.
ANC provincial deputy secretary Mluleki Ndobe said Dlamini Zuma’s visit to the Harry Gwala region and KwaZulu-Natal had nothing to do with the conference, but to talk about late ANC cadres as “this is the year of cadres”.
She said the factions, which are perceived to be made up of her supporters and those of Ramaphosa, were destroying the ruling party. She said factionalists might celebrate that they were destroying their opponents, but the ultimate victim was the ANC.
Dlamini Zuma’s supporters within the party had tasked her to drive their call for radical economic transformation, a responsibility she had promised to execute at many party events. But she called for all ANC members to be ready for the huge responsibility that was waiting for the movement as “the political freedom was incomplete without economic freedom”.
Referring to an incident in which 16-year-old Matlhamola Mosweu was allegedly killed by white farmers in Coligny, North West, after they accused him of stealing a sunflower, she said: “If you are a full human being, nobody would kill you for picking up a flower.”
Former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, who attended the event, did not mince his works in support of Dlamini Zuma becoming the next ANC and state president.
He said the current leadership of the ANC, including Ramaphosa, should all be kicked out of the party during the conference “because we are experiencing these problems because of the whole leadership”.
“The leadership of the president (Zuma) must all go when he goes out. We must elect the new officials. We must bring new people who have not been part of the commotion that the ANC is in.
“But mama (Dlamini Zuma) would manage to bring unity in the movement, because what is lacking in the movement is decisiveness, unity and equal treatment,” he said.
He described her as a unifier who would bring back Cope, UDM and EFF leaders to the ANC. Magaqa said he supported the call to bring EFF leader Julius Malema back to the ANC.
“I know mama (Dlamini Zuma) is someone who can reach out to all.”