Durban - SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande says most of the criticism directed at President Jacob Zuma is unfounded – based not on facts but rather on hatred for the man.
“There is this hatred for the president, especially by sections of the elite, including elites in the media… For them it’s not that the barbarian is at the gate but that the barbarian is inside the gate.”
Despite the criticism directed at Zuma, this had not dented his popularity, he said.
Nzimande said Zuma continued to enjoy grassroots popularity because he remained in touch with the common man and carried himself as an ordinary person.
This was a very important attribute for a person leading a massive organisation like the ANC, he noted.
Nzimande said the media was not objective in its criticism of Zuma and his administration, adding that some sections of the media had done a disservice to the public in terms of information provided.
“We do not mind criticism, but it must be fair, it must be informed and it must be based on fact… You cannot tell me that the ANC is all doom and gloom.”
Nzimande said Zuma’s administration needed to be commended for many achievements in the five key areas identified by the ANC at its Polokwane conference in 2007. These, he said, included increasing the life expectancy of South Africans by about six years since Zuma was elected president of the country.
Progress in this area was largely thanks to the government’s intervention in fighting HIV/Aids, he said.
Nzimande also hit out at ANC and alliance members who were behaving like the opposition in their criticism of the ANC.
“Today to be seen as independent you must criticise the ANC and especially its president. Even some of our (ANC) veterans feel they must be negatively critical.”
Instead of throwing stones, he said, members of the ANC and alliance partners should engage robustly internally and be part of the forces seeking a solution to problems.
He lashed out at his critics who say he has become blunt or less critical since he joined the government.
“I am not going to wake up every morning and attack the ANC so as to appear sharp.”
Nzimande was speaking at Dambuza, outside Pietermaritzburg, where he had just given groceries to about 1 000 poor, elderly people.
Nzimande said Zuma’s re-election would ensure continuity in the implementation of programmes agreed upon at Polokwane.
“We were among those who argued very strongly that you can’t eat the whole elephant at once – we said you need to target a few priorities. This leadership has tried its best to implement that programme adopted at Polokwane.”
He also said the relationship between alliance partners had improved since Zuma was elected at Polokwane.
“It is not perfect but it a far cry compared to the pre-Polokwane torture… We still need maximum unity of the alliance if we want to tackle the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”
This government was not being judged on the basis of what it said it was going to do.
“When you criticise and evaluate, you we must do that on the basis of what you said you are going to do.
“There are some shortcomings – we feel that there is still a gap between our micro and macro economic policies.
“The interest of the financial sector is too dominant in our economy; there is no doubt that there are still challenges.”
Meanwhile Willies Mchunu, the deputy chairman of the ANC in KZN, said the election of Cyril Ramaphosa was not a mistake.
The branches had decided who they wanted as leaders without anyone imposing it on them. He thanked the KZN delegates for behaving well at Mangaung, saying this ensured there was order and stability at the conference.
Mchunu was speaking at an interfaith prayer meeting held in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.
He said the ANC was yet to decide on the future of Premier Zweli Mkhize, who was recently elected treasurer-general of the ANC.