Outgoing president Jacob Zuma makes his final address as party leader on Saturday. PHOTO: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Johannesburg - African National Congress (ANC) members should unite and support the new party leadership which will emerge from its ongoing, highly-contested 54th national elective conference, outgoing party leader Jacob Zuma said on Saturday.

"We must all unite behind the leadership collective that will be elected here, regardless of our original preferences," Zuma said in his political report presented to thousands of delegates in Johannesburg.

"At the end of the conference, the movement must be the winner and not individuals."

He expressed gratitude to the party's outgoing National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the party, in which he also served. 

"Together we engaged with and handled difficult and sensitive matters. The NEC has proven to me that in the ANC, we can fundamentally differ on certain issues but still remain comrades," said Zuma.

"Given our experiences, I am convinced that the ANC will sail through the current rough and stormy seas and ultimately emerge even stronger. Let me also thank the national officials. Having been a national official of the ANC for the past 26 years, I have not seen a team of national officials more active and hardworking than this outgoing top six."

He also thanked the general ANC membership, and all branches, the provinces, regions and the other  structures of the movement, including the leagues and alliance partners.

"It has been a real honour and privilege to lead this glorious movement," said Zuma.

"I thank you all sincerely for the opportunity."

African News Agency/ANA