714 Free State Premier Ace Magashule talks to Independent Newspapers about his future plans and his first 3 months in his position as head of this province. 030809. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

 President Jacob Zuma is a simple and humble leader, Free State ANC chairman Ace Magashule said on Friday.

Delivering his political report at the Free State ANC elective conference, Magashule came out in passionate support of Zuma.

“We will pick Zuma up,” Magashule told party delegates in closing his political report without following the prepared speech.

Following a long delay to the start of the elective conference, he said people were feeding the media reports that the ANC in the Free State was divided, when it was united.

Magashule spoke with the ANC constitution booklet in hand, and kept referring to it.

He focused on discipline and unity in the provincial structures, but referred at various times to national issues in his speech. He told delegates the party's national leaders were elected in Polokwane and had to be respected, even if individual members did not agree.

“You cannot suddenly dream up they must go. They would not.” He said the same would happen at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December.

Magashule said those ANC members who appeared on television screens constantly were not real ANC leaders. He told delegates they had never seen Zuma promote himself on television.

Referring to the expulsion of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema from the ANC, Magashule said there would be no discussion of disciplinary steps at Mangaung because the ANC constitution did not support it.

Malema's last hope to have his expulsion reversed lay with Mangaung delegates bringing a motion to have the matter discussed.

“The highest structures have taken a decision. The NEC has applied its mind.. the disciplinary structures have decided.”

Magashule said he was stunned that leaders from outside ANC structures could proclaim the Free State leadership was divided.

He said people were using criminals to disrupt meetings in the Free State and they were the first to run to the media to tell it what was happening.

People from outside the province were attempting to disrupt the ANC's unity in the Free State with Mangaung in mind, he said.

“We are solid and united to Mangaung.”

Magashule told delegates it was time to fight for the ANC. He added that the youth did not belong to one man.

“The youth belongs to the ANC.”

Magashule disrupted his speech from time to time to break into old ANC songs.

Recently-elected Fezile Daby regional chairman Sizwe Mbalo welcomed delegates to the event. A banner on the podium from which he was speaking read: “Hand off!!! Our President Jacob Msholozi Zuma”.

Provincial treasurer Mxolisi Dukwana was not at the conference. It was reported he would go up against Magashule for the spot of Free State party leader.

Magashule responded to speculation that provincial secretary Sibongile Besane was part of the so-called regime change faction. He said Besane had been working hard to prepare the conference up until Thursday.

The conference was taking place despite two of the five provincial regions not having held their regional conferences yet.

Zuma was expected to address the event on Sunday. - Sapa