Johannesburg - The ANC does not “approve of violent action against people who are exercising their democratic rights”, President Jacob Zuma said on Monday.
Thirty members of the African National Congress were arrested on Saturday after a clash with members of the Economic Freedom Fighters at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal.
They threw stones at EFF members, who had handed over a house to a woman near Zuma's private homestead.
Addressing The New Age business breakfast in Nelspruit on Monday, Zuma reportedly said he had been informed that EFF leader Julius Malema tried to walk into his homestead but was stopped by security personnel.
According to eNCA, he said there was “nothing wrong” with Malema's assistance of a poor person, even in Nkandla.
He reportedly said that in the climate of political debate, people used many actions to disagree.
“Booing is a part of self-expression,” Zuma was quoted as saying, with reference to mourners booing at him at the memorial for former president Nelson Mandela in December.
Zuma also reportedly said the ANC remained (intact) even when members left the party.
According to eNCA, when Zuma was asked whether he believed expelled ANC Youth League leader Malema would eventually ask to be readmitted into the ANC's fold, Zuma said: “I would not be surprised if he did come back.”
In a speech prepared for delivery at the breakfast, which was held to discuss the ANC's manifesto for the 2014 general elections, Zuma said one of the key traits of the ANC was its rich history of internal democracy, tolerance for opposing political views and peaceful coexistence with other political parties.
“The ANC recommits to free political activity in all parts of the country, during this election period and beyond,” he said.
“We fought against no-go areas and will be the first party to defend the right of other parties to campaign wherever they wish.
“We thus wish all political parties well with their election campaigns. Their existence serves to deepen and strengthen our multiparty democracy.”
In his talk, Zuma also addressed corruption, and said corrupt officials would be held individually liable for all losses incurred as a result of their corrupt actions.
“We have stated that we will intensify the fight against corruption and that public servants and public representatives will be prohibited from doing business with the state.
“The manifesto also states unambiguously that any ANC member or ANC public representative found guilty by a court of law will be expected to step down from any leadership position in the ANC, government and society...”
Where this had not happened, the African National Congress would take firm action in line with the provisions of its constitution.
Zuma said that to prevent further corruption, tender processes would be centralised under a central tender board.
“We believe that this systematic change will bring about a lot of benefit for the country,” he said.
Zuma said corruption also had to be eradicated in the private sector.
“We will thus pursue action against companies involved in bid rigging, price fixing and corruption in past and current infrastructure build programmes.
“We will do this using the competition authorities, through taking up civil claims, and calling on the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate criminally-liable behaviour.” - Sapa