He also expressed gratitude to the party's outgoing National Executive Committee and the National Working Committee of the party, in which he also served.
While his lengthy speech was met with rousing applause at Nasrec, social media users were not so kind, slamming the president for failing to take any responsibility for the state of the party and country.
Earlier on, South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said Zuma's speech was pathetic and dishonest.
Talk show host Justice Malala labelled Zuma's speech as "claptrap" and said the only good thing that came from it was that citizens would no longer have to waste hours listening to him.
The best thing about #Zuma's speech is of course that it is the last time we will waste hours of our valuable time listening to such unreconstructed, myopic, dishonest, self-indulgent claptrap. #ANC54 #ANCConference2017
Adding to this was Talk 702 anchor Eusebius McKaiser, who said Zuma's speech showed how the president did "not have respect for the boundary between fiction and reality".
The main conclusion to draw from the political report of president Jacob Zuma is that he does not have respect for the boundary between fiction and reality. #ANC54
#Trump and #Zuma are great at warping reality for their followers. E.g. we need toe responsible with the economy; right after announcing free higher education and killing of the SOE #ANCElectiveConference2017
#Zuma is so desperate for a legacy, he side stepped Treasury in announcing free higher education! The Gupta tag is proving to be difficult to eclipse though! Shame!
Who’s given you free education? Talk is cheap, just like your soul was when you sold it to the #Guptas you weak, corrupt, sellout, traitor. #Zuma’s greed could have paid for free education years ago. #WMC #BLF #GuptaMonopolyCapital #Andileisachop