09/12/2012 Durban Last ANC meeting at North of KwaZulu Natal in UniZulu before the Mangaung Conference. From Left is Riot Mkhwanazi , President Jecobs Zuma and Dr Zweli Mkhize.

Sipho Khumalo and Sapa

ANC president Jacob Zuma has described the party’s forthcoming Mangaung elective congress as a watershed conference, warning there were many interest groups, including foreign ones, seeking to capture the party.

He said once these forces had captured the ANC, they would control South Africa and use its strategic importance as a gateway to Africa.

Addressing KwaZulu-Natal delegates attending the conference during the forum at the University of Zululand in eMpangeni, Zuma said that given the significance of the conference, it was important for the delegates to remain focused and ensure they were not led astray.

Using the analogy of a bus, Zuma said it was not important only that the bus to Mangaung was filled with people who understood the mandate, but the driver himself should know the road to avoid delegates being led astray.

“The question is who is driving the ANC bus? You must make sure that the driver and the conductor are the right people so that you do not end up in a destination you do not want,” he warned to applause from more than 5 000 delegates who packed the university’s Bhekuzulu Hall.

Regarding the Mangaung conference, Zuma said the ANC needed to ask itself if the party had come to a crossroads.

“The contestation within the ANC at times reaches such a level that we are seen to be quarrelling. But we agree on policies and programmes. We are in agreement that we are also delivering to the best of our capacity. But then what are we quarrelling over? What is the issue? The delegates should be clear because such clarity should help us. We might be fighting the battles of other people.”

On the foreign interests in the ANC and South Africa, Zuma said foreign countries could no longer control Africa by sending administrators.

“You need a country which has influence and a big, organised economy. So South Africa has been identified as that country. Then if South Africa is an important country to control, then you have to control the ANC. You therefore need a leader in the ANC who can be controlled. That is why there is so much interest in leadership.”

But, he added, the control needed to extend to the entire national executive committee, “so apply your mind when voting, and you need to elect people who can take the revolution forward”.

Zuma said what counted in the ANC was knowledge, adding that members should be active and help the ANC to move forward.

“Your contribution at branch level is important. We need to understand the ANC. There is no need to be big-headed.

“If you lead the ANC, you do not lead ANC members; you are led by the members who elected you. You cannot become big-headed as a leader; you are there to serve,” he said.

Zuma spoke against fighting for positions, saying those involved in such battles should be educated as they gave a bad impression to the people they led.

“Being an ANC member means service to the people. ANC members were prepared to sacrifice their lives for the liberation of this country… that is what we are known for,” Zuma said.

KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize yesterday said the ANC chose its leaders on the basis of the work they did and not because they made news headlines.

“We choose our leaders on the basis of the work that we see. We do not choose simply because someone appears on television or is on the front page of any newspaper,” he told delegates.

He rejected a Mail&Guardian newspaper report that Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla had said ANC members were now “voting cattle”.

Mkhize said ANC branches made their decision on the party’s leadership and that delegates were not “herded” to vote in a particular way.

“We have made our nominations. We stand by them,” he said.

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