President Jacob Zuma delivers his penultimate speech as ANC president. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
President Jacob Zuma delivers his penultimate speech as ANC president. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cosatu's S'dumo Dlamini is pictured with President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma at the gala dinner at Nasrec on Friday night. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cosatu's S'dumo Dlamini is pictured with President Jacob Zuma and his wife Thobeka Madiba Zuma at the gala dinner at Nasrec on Friday night. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa sharing a joke with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the gala dinner which kicked off the ANC 54th National Conference at Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa sharing a joke with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the gala dinner which kicked off the ANC 54th National Conference at Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cyril Ramaphosa poses for selfies at the gala dinner which was held at the Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cyril Ramaphosa poses for selfies at the gala dinner which was held at the Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cosatu boss S'dumo Dlamini was seated alongside President Jacob Zuma and first lady Thobeka Madiba Zuma at the gala dinner on the eve of the ANC's 54th national conference. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
Cosatu boss S'dumo Dlamini was seated alongside President Jacob Zuma and first lady Thobeka Madiba Zuma at the gala dinner on the eve of the ANC's 54th national conference. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
ANC presidency candidate Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the gala dinner. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
ANC presidency candidate Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the gala dinner. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
President Jacob Zuma delivers his speech at the gala dinner which is the first official function of the ANC 54th National Conference, which runs over 5 days. Picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA
President Jacob Zuma delivers his speech at the gala dinner which is the first official function of the ANC 54th National Conference, which runs over 5 days. Picture Ayanda Ndamane/ANA

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma pleaded with the seven ANC presidential candidates and delegates to ensure that the ruling party emerges united from the five-day national conference that begins on Saturday.

The president was speaking at a gala dinner on Friday night which precedes the party's 54th national conference. The hotly-contested conference runs over five days and will see a new ANC president named on Sunday.

Delivering his penultimate speech as ANC president, Zuma assured guests at the Progressive Business Forum's (PBF) presidential gala dinner that he had worked with all seven candidates and was confident they would not disappoint the country.

"They will never (disappoint you) ... Once one of them is elected they will unite behind the winner," Zuma promised.

Frontrunners Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma will know on Sunday which of them will replace Zuma.

Senior ANC leaders Lindiwe Sisulu, Zweli Mkhize, Jeff Radebe, Baleka Mbete and Mathews Phosa also campaigned for the position of party leader but look unlikely to emerge victorious.

Zuma said a united ANC was not only good for the country but everyone. "We are indeed good for the country," he added.

The outgoing ANC president asked ANC members and delegates to ensure that the party was united. 

The ANC, according to Zuma, was the epitome of "democracy, openness and transparency". 

"What a wonderful organisation!" he declared.

Zuma also revealed that he would be writing a book in about a year and a half years' time and urged PBF guests to read it.

He also thanked his fellow top six ANC officials and talkative members of the party's national executive committee.

The PBF is the ANC's fundraising entity run by former National Party minister Renier Schoeman.

Political Bureau