Contenders for the presidency of the ANC should not let losing cause divisions in the movement, presidential candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Sunday.
“Comrades, if the branches elect you, and they put you in the contest and you accept it, then you must go in there with a spirit to win, but understanding that you can lose,” Dlamini-Zuma said in Nyanga, about 20km southeast of the Cape Town CBD.
Speaking at the 73rd birthday celebrations of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) she said: “Can you imagine if every time there is a contest there is division? We will have no organisation.”
Dlamini-Zuma told the hundreds of people packed into the Zolani community centre that democracy should not divide an organisation.
“Our organisation’s election is simple. You enter, the branches elect.
“You lose, you follow the winner. You win; you embrace everybody, that’s how it is.”
The former minister of home affairs and health returned from chairing the African Union Commission to enter the race for the top job, with the backing of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and the ANCYL.
The ANCWL went as far as banning members from attending Cyril Ramaphosa’s events in their uniforms.
Dlamini-Zuma’s main rival to take over from her former husband President Jacob Zuma at the party’s elective conference in December is Ramaphosa, deputy president of the party and the country.
In the run up to Zuma’s election as party president, several high ranking members broke away to form the Congress of the People as they supported his predecessor Thabo Mbeki for another term.
Dlamini-Zuma is expected to be sworn in as a Member of Parliament soon, in a move rumoured to be paving the way for her former husband’s exit.
The event in Nyanga was billed to start at 13:00 but eventually kicked off hours later with a hall packed with supporters, some already wearing T-shirts with “NDZ for president” on them.
“She will never get it,” said one man leaning on a car outside. “Ramaphosa will have six provinces [on his side].”
Friends Anelisa Mpande and Nangamso Tube disagreed, saying Dlamini-Zuma had just the right experience needed for the job.
ANCYL Western Cape chairperson Muhammed Khaled Sayed dedicated Sunday’s meeting to former ANCYL secretary general Sindiso Magaqa who died in hospital in Durban last Monday, September 4.
The 35-year-old Magaqa was shot on July 13. He had been a ward councillor in Umzimkhulu, KwaZulu-Natal, at the time of his shooting.
National ANCYL secretary general Njabulo Nzuza said that in spite of what some disgruntled leaguers said in a statement issued on Saturday, the ANCYL is throwing its weight behind Dlamini-Zuma because she is a well-travelled statesperson with the experience to improve the country.
Meokgo Matuba, ANCWL secretary general, warned that the run up to the elective conference is going to be filled with sabotage, insults, and fake statements.
“Comrades, it is going to be a long journey to December 16,” said Matuba.
Ramaphosa has already been at the receiving end of alleged dirty tricks. He was the subject of a media report that he had affairs with at least eight women. He admitted to one affair eight years ago, but dismissed the other claims as “political smear”.
On the stage with Dlamini-Zuma was former ANC spokesperson Carl Niehaus, representing the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, whose members formed close protection around the stage.
Outside officers in at least seven police vehicles monitored the event opposite the busy Nyanga terminus. – News24