East London - ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa says the task of the new ANC leadership is to unite not only the ANC but the entire country.
Ramaphosa was delivering his maiden January 8 statement at the African National Congress's 106 birthday celebrations at a packed Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Saturday morning.
Divisions must end now and not later, he said.
Ramaphosa said the ANC must be renewed and that it shall become a more effective instrument to bring about change.
ANC Eastern Cape chairman Oscar Mabuyane said the ANC should focus on renewing the party as leader of society and place the organisation in the hands of the people. Newly elected ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa had given South Africans "a new sense of hope", he said.
"With the renewal and the rebuilding of the ANC, we owe it to the poor people in the country. We must be less focused on ourselves. Let us commit to help heal the ANC," Mabuyane said.
Mbuyane started his welcome address before the arrival of President Jacob Zuma, who was booed when he arrived two hours late to join party leaders at the African National Congress's 106 birthday celebrations at the Buffalo City Stadium in East London on Saturday morning.
At the time, the ANC's alliance partners had already delivered their messages of support.
In contrast, there was clapping and ululation when ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe acknowledged the presence of newly elected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who had arrived with Zuma.
Alliance partners had already delivered their messages of support by the time the two statesmen arrived at the stadium.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini pledged the trade union federation's support for the governing party. "We will give you the 66 percent that you need. In May this year, we will be in Nelson Mandela Bay to declare for all to know that the ANC is taking over." He called on the ANC to prioritise resolving matters causing divisions in the alliance. Dlamini also urged Ramaphosa to address matters affecting workers.
In his message, SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande called on Ramaphosa to respect the country and not to take the people for granted. "We want to put it on record, as the SACP, we fully accept the outcome of the 54th conference of the ANC," Nzimande said, adding that the SACP remained committed to the alliance and its "reconfiguration".
The SACP also accepted Ramaphosa's calls for unity, but urged "unity in action". "We want to say, comrades, we remain committed to this alliance. We must admit that the ANC is facing lots of problems and when the ANC coughs we all catch fever," said Nzimande.
African News Agency/ANA and IOL