Cape Town - African National Congress presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa used his Oliver Tambo memorial lecture to take jabs at President Jacob Zuma, speaking for just over an hour, without once mentioning his name.
He said Tambo consulted amongst the leadership of the ANC - touching on criticism of Zuma by Cosatu and the SACP leaders that his numerous cabinet reshuffles, including the most recent one, had been done without the ear of the Tripartite Alliance partners.
But before Ramaphosa could even start his memorial address the divisions in the ANC, ahead of December’s elective conference, was on full display as chairperson of the Dullah Omar (Cape Town metro) region Xolani Sotashe was roundly booed when he called out supporters of the party’s deputy president for wearing #Siyavuma T-shirts - the slogan for Ramaphosa's presidential campaign.
“We are confident that we will overcome these challenges. The ANC will emerge after December. The only hope for the future is the African National Congress,” said Sotashe before he was booed.
But when he called the wearing campaign T-shirts “foreign tendencies” the large audience who had been bussed in to hear Ramaphosa, turned against him.
“We must not allow foreign tendencies in the ANC. People must wear t-shirts in their factional gatherings. We are hurting the name of DP(deputy president),” said Sotashe.
Leaders in the Dullah Omar region have been vocal in their support for President Zuma, and by extension for Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma- Ramaphosa’s main rival for the ANC presidency.
Taking the podium, Ramaphosa at first agreed with Sotashe, saying that what he had raised was a “correct issue”.
“In Mangaung, we discussed this thing (of factional T-shirts), after discussing it the national executive committee discussed it as well. The NEC resolved that if we have meetings of the ANC we should take care not to wear, t-shirts or caps that identify with one of the candidates.
“Now, wherever I have been going...when we come to the ANC, we are saying we must try to forge unity at all costs and not try to do anything that will divide our movement because (1), we don’t have time, (2) some of us will have to go to our branches BGMs, (3) some of us are wearing t-shirts that I don’t see clearly here.
“We are making an exception now (because) we have run out of time, you must go to your BGMs...next time you go to a meeting, wear these T-shirts under your clothes so you can remain warm,” Ramaphosa said in Xhosa to laughs from his supporters.
Speaking on Tambo, Ramaphosa said it was not just about celebrating the ANC leader’s life but also about looking at the future.
“Because Comrade OR had this great ability to lead our movement at a very difficult time, and through his leadership, he was able to take the ANC from the past and took it into the future.
“He delivered the ANC from the clutches of the repression that was rained against the ANC in the 1960s and that is why he was sent into exile but he brought back the ANC, it’s membership, revived the ANC but he also brought back to the principles that went into our constitution,” said Ramaphosa.