Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. FILE PHOTO: ANA

Durban - Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma made a surprise appearance at the KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress provincial general council on Tuesday where she urged unity amongst delegates.

Dlamini-Zuma received the nod from the province’s branches on Monday night as their preferred candidate to lead the party after president Jacob Zuma’s term expires.

The president was expected to attend the closing of the meeting but had other commitments.

“The ANC must remain united because it has a task to make the lives of our people better, not us as individuals. At the [national] conference, it doesn’t matter who you nominated in the end because you exercised your democratic right,” said Dlamini-Zuma.

The former African Union Commission chairperson was speaking at the Olive Convention Centre in Durban and was greeted with enthusiastic applause and singing as she took to the podium.

“The ANC is a democratic organisation, it taught this country democracy. Let's go, be united and disciplined, debate robustly, respect comrades and leadership and delegates and make sure the conference is peaceful, we want a peaceful conference,” she said.

The ruling party’s 54th national conference takes place at Nasrec, Johannesburg, from 16 to 20 December where new national leadership will be elected. Resolutions will also be taken on party policies and implementation.  

Emphasising the safety of delegates attending the conference, Dlamini-Zuma said it should be “the safest place to be”.

“When our families let us go to conference, they must not worry about our safety inside the conference. The atmosphere must reflect that we are cadres of the same organisation, that we are comrades,” she said to applause from the 700 delegates. 

“The ANC conference is of interest to the entire world and we must behave like the ANC that our forbearers bequeathed to us. The ANC must survive. Those who wish us well are praying and are wishing for our success and a dignified, united conference. Those who don’t wish us well say the opposite; let us not play into their hands,” she said. 

Dlamini-Zuma said the conference was to be marked by the singing of ANC songs that united delegates instead of “presidential hopeful songs”. Songs, slogans and paraphernalia should reflect the values of the ruling party, she said, adding that leadership preferences would be expressed at the ballot box.

“We have all committed ourselves to that and also to accepting the results of the conference. As leadership has said, those who win must embrace everybody, those who lose, must accept it,” she said. 

Dlamini-Zuma congratulated the leadership and delegates for holding a “successful and united” PGC.

“Thank you for flying ANC flag high and for all the things you did to win nominations,” she said.