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The country needed a second transition otherwise it would remain stagnant like many other African countries after independence, ANC leader Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.
“We need a second transition, we cannot stay here,” he told hundreds of party delegates at the Free State elective conference.
Many African countries had not moved forward after independence, he said.
“If we do not discuss the second transition, I do not know how we would handle the problems we have now.”
Zuma also lashed out at his critics, saying it was time for the ANC to “fight back with the truth” and to reclaim the public space.
It seemed the country had returned to the days when the ANC and its members were described as “killers”, “terrorists” and “wrong people”, Zuma told about 750 delegates in Parys.
“We are back to that. We must correct that. We’ve got to fight back with the truth. We’ve kept quiet for 18 years.”
Many of the country’s pro-grammes flowed from a negotiated settlement that might be redundant.
The ANC leader said the second transition must address the legacies of apartheid.
The ANC had to make a difference to its people’s lives. The party did not have to be loved to do what it thought was right, Zuma said.
“The time has come to do what we think is right to make the majority happy. The second transition is the right thing.”
Zuma asked those who were against it what their alternative was.
The second transition is the subject of a key discussion document for the ANC’s national policy conference this week.
The paper, “The Second Transition: Building a national democratic society and the balance of forces in 2012”, suggests the ANC must now enter a second era of democracy.
In the past 18 years the ANC has gone through a first transition into democracy, where it focused on political emancipation, the document says.
Now the party needs to introduce a “second transition” that focuses on the social and economic transformation of SA over the next 30 to 50 years.
In an apparent reaction to doubts expressed by senior ANC national executive committee members, Zuma said it was impossible for any NEC member not to know of the “second transition”.
He said the NEC had discussed the document three times.
The ANC must also look at where it wanted to go.
“Mangaung must help to get a renewed ANC.”
Zuma said a 10-year programme to renew the ANC was required and needed to be approved.
“If we fail to deal with discipline, we fail the ANC.”
Zuma, who devoted part of his speech to discipline, said no one should be allowed to erode unity in the ANC.
Referring to recent events in the ruling party, Zuma said the Mangaung conference would take firm decisions on discipline.
He said those who were bending the constitution of the ANC to serve their own selfish aims must be dealt with.
Non-conforming ANC politicians would find it “cold out there”, outside the ANC.
Zuma was in a happy mood at the Free State elective conference, where it was apparent he enjoyed huge support.
He ended his speech saying, with a big smile, “I am happy, very happy to close the conference”, before he led party members in singing two songs.
Zuma and provincial ANC chairman Ace Magashule, who was re-elected unopposed on Saturday, had been blessed by a priest before the start of the speeches.