President Jacob Zuma addresses a special media briefing on the economy, especially on developments in the mining sector at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 30 May 2013.

The African National Congress has hit back at recent criticism of President Jacob Zuma. Here is the full text of the statement issued by spokesman Jackson Mthembu:

 The African National Congress will not enter the recently fashionable fray of trading insults in the public domain. Indeed as recently articulated by the Secretary-General of the African National Congress, Comrade Gwede Mantashe, “the ANC is convinced that the mainstay strategy of the opposition forces in all formations and structures is that of agitation for discontent. These opposition forces have nothing to offer. We must seek to avoid responding to these provocations and lies, trying to correct every individual detail or allegation”

 We however wish to speak to the provocations and lies that are touted daily with the intention to harm and degrade the person of President Jacob Zuma and by necessary implication the ANC and the very core of our struggle. Such is a farce that has perhaps gone unattended for too long and has morphed into a normal part of national discourse.

The African National Congress is not led by a single leader as purported by writers of various fictional prose. President Zuma forms part of a leadership collective that is elected by members of the organisation through a rigorous and thorough democratic process. The decisions taken by the African National Congress are not the decisions of a single individual but of the various Executive Committees and structures of the organisation. It is a dangerous fallacy therefore to suggest that the ANC is “afraid of Zuma”. This assertion which is being repeatedly ad nauseum by many is indicative of political spectators who lack understanding of the organisation, its functioning or its internal processes. In the ANC decisions are reached on consensus not dictatorship after proper engagement and consultation.

Further, the notion of a paralysis in the ANC arising from this purported fear of Comrade President Zuma is an insult not only to the President but to the more than one million members and leaders of the African National Congress. In essence, those who tout this lie seek to infer that the membership, leadership and supporters of the African National Congress are brainless stooges without capacity to reason, deduce and lead the struggle of the people of South Africa.

To call President Zuma a tyrant, a monster and a person who ruthlessly pursues an enemy is tantamount to slander and defamation of the integrity of the President. There are no facts that prove the above to be true therefore the wild accusations are a deliberate intention to insult and undermine the leader of the African National Congress and the Republic of South Africa. Indeed the African National Congress and its members view such statements as disrespectful, distasteful and insulting to the person of the President and the ANC. It is extremely suspect that a person who makes such an insult could still claim to be a member of the ANC.

It must also go on the record; the President of the African National Congress does not owe any favours to anyone who genuinely believed in his innocence when charges were served on him by the state. There are many members of the ANC and people of South Africa who continue to believe in his innocence and will not expect the President to owe them any favours nor loyalty as a result of their support.

These wild allegations that are thrown around recklessly further miss even the most basic tenets of fact. The ANC, without any fear or favour, expressed itself on the landing of an aeroplane at Waterkloof Air Base. Our government has also taken steps to correct the situation surrounding the breach that occurred there. It must be said as well that President Zuma has no authority on any tenders anywhere in the departments or any sphere of government. In their haste to vilify the person of Zuma, some cannot even wait for the Public Protector and other respected institutions created by our constitution to investigate and make public their findings regarding the Nkandla allegations.

The African National Congress respects the right of all citizens to make constructive criticisms with the intention to build and strengthen our young democracy. The vision for a united, democratic, prosperous, non-racial and non-sexist national democratic society is one that South Africans, regardless of their political persuasion, should share. In the building of a country at peace with itself and united in diversity we cannot fail. It is however improper that in the quest to build this common nationhood, others abuse our democracy and the rights to freedom on expression codified in our constitution. Elsewhere in the world, it is a criminal offence to insult a sitting Head of State and South Africans must, together, forge a common understanding on how we halt this impunity and abuse of democratic priviledge.

The membership of the ANC is well aware that others who have traversed this route of insulting the leadership of the ANC have expelled themselves from this glorious organisation. History has ample examples of these characters.

 Issued by:
Jackson Mthembu
National Spokesperson
African National Congress