Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ANC will have no other choice but to abandon its divisions if it is to retain its leadership role in the country.
Ramaphosa was delivering memorial lecture for the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in Johannesburg on Sunday night.
Ramaphosa said Madikizela-Mandela was committed to the unity of the ANC and that she was disturbed by the deep divisions that ensued ahead of the party’s national conference last year.
“She understood that unity was vital and necessary if the ANC was to remain at the forefront of the liberation struggle,” he said.
The ANC’s NEC was holding its meeting in Irene, Tshwane, over the weekend and Ramaphosa said the party’s leadership had spent most of Sunday debating the issue of unity.
The meeting was the first sitting of the party’s top brass after allegations emerged about the involvement of ANC secretary general Ace Magashule and Zuma in a plot to oust Ramaphosa.
“The discussion that has raged the whole day has been about how we can forge unity and how we can make sure that whatever may be areas of difference can disappear so that we unite the ANC. I can assure you, we are finding each other,” Ramaphosa said.
He warned that the ANC will have to learn from the past of bad governance and bad leadership if it is to be able to self-correct.
Flanked by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and other members of the ANC's national executive committee, including elections head Fikile Mbalula, Ramaphosa said the past decade under former president Jacob Zuma has seen the reversal of democratic gains due to criminal activities and bad leadership.
“The last decade has seen many of the gains of the early years of democracy reversed through state capture and corruption, a failure of collective leadership, policy uncertainty and a growing distance between the people and their movement and their government. We have had to come to terms with the erosion of the values of the ANC and confront difficult questions about the quality and integrity of our leadership as the ANC,” Ramaphosa said.
Addressing a packed City Hall, Ramaphosa said the party has acknowledged its weaknesses and that it was now determined to learn from them.
“We are at a point where we say we must learn from the mistakes of the past so that we never repeat those mistakes ever again,” he said.
He said the new leadership of the ANC was now charged with ensuring clean governance and economic recovery.
“We emerged from the conference with a clear mandate to build a social compact for growth, for jobs and for fundamental transformation. It is the mandate to end corruption and strengthen our public institutions, ensuring honest and effective leadership,” he said.
Speaking about Madikizela-Mandela was an outstanding liberation icon whose resilience and aversion against injustice grew as he battled against oppression and patriarchal treatment that was sustained over many years during apartheid.