He was addressing throngs of ANC supporters outside former president Nelson Mandela’s Vilakazi Street, Soweto, home on Friday, ahead of the ANC’s 105th anniversary celebrations taking place at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
It was an address laden with biblical and divine references as Zuma hit back at his and the ANC’s supposed detractors by comparing the birth of Jesus to the formation of the ANC in 1912.
“No one can stop us because we have God on our side – He’s on our side! When the ANC was formed, there were religious leaders present who thanked the Lord for delivering to them the people’s movement.
“The people have been liberated now – hence the ANC will rule until Jesus comes back to save us,” Zuma said.
“I sometimes whisper to some pastors and say, ‘my brothers, please speak to God on the ANC’s behalf as you talk to Him often’. That’s just a joke which I regularly share with pastors,” Zuma added.
He asserted that people should not forget the ANC’s birthday on January 8 just as they don’t forget the birth of Christ on December 25, saying the two were interlinked.
“We as believers never forget that the Son of God was sent to cleanse the world of its sins. The birth of the ANC was intended to liberate the oppressed people of South Africa.
“This (January 8) is the day which we will never forget, just like we don’t forget Christmas. These two dates are the same and no one can separate them: the birth of Jesus to cleanse the world of its sins, and the ANC’s birth to liberate the oppressed,” Zuma said to loud applause.
It was a bullish 30-minute address from the president – delivered predominately in isiZulu – where he offered his views on why the ANC lost key metros in last year’s local government elections.
Using a football metaphor in the presence of former Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, Zuma downplayed the ANC’s losses by comparing them to a football team which loses a match on a penalty shootout.
“The local government elections went to a penalty shootout. The problem was in converting the penalty kicks.
“You can’t lose on penalties and equate that to a 6-0 drubbing.
"I’m a former footballer so I know what I’m saying.
"The ANC only lost on penalties where mistakes do happen when you take them. If we were to go to the elections now, we would show them who is the best.”
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He added that ANC supporters were disappointed because they weren’t used to losing.
When Zuma acknowledged the presence of ANC veterans such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Andrew Mlangeni, he referred to them as “the real veterans of our movement, not those other ones” – an apparent swipe at the 101 veterans led by Dr Frank Chikane, Dr Wally Serote and Joel Netshitenzhe, among others.
Meanwhile, ANC national executive committee member (NEC) and chairperson of the Free State ANC, Ace Magashule, told the Saturday Star that his province would be sending 15 000 supporters to the celebrations.
Asked whether the NEC had decided on Orlando Stadium instead of the over-90 000-seater FNB Stadium out of fears of empty seats, Magashule said Orlando Stadium was chosen because it “is in the heart of Soweto”.
“FNB is on the outskirts of the township and would have been inaccessible for most of our supporters.
"We did not fear not filling up the stadium when we took this decision,” he said.