The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has proclaimed its belief in Jacob Zuma's innocence, saying it will support him in leading the party to election victory and becoming the next president of the country in 2009.
Provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize told more than 10000 supporters on Saturday that their vote for Zuma would not be wasted since the country needed his leadership.
Mkhize was speaking at the ANC's election campaign launch in Umlazi.
"We will support Zuma to lead the ANC to election victory and become the next president of South Africa in 2009," Mkhize said. "Zuma is our presidential candidate and we appeal to voters to support his election to the position of president of this country since our country needs his leadership."
Mkhize conceded that the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was still bitter over Zuma's dismissal as the country's deputy president and at the subsequent criminal charges against him in connection with the arms deal.
"The widespread allegations have circled many in the leadership and the private sector," he said. "We look to our national leadership to assist our country in a search for a lasting resolution to this debacle."
Mkhize said the ANC did not recognise factions, lobbies and camps, nor would it tolerate gossip-mongers who peddle disinformation, sow confusion and thrived on divisions.
"The ANC has no place for careerists and opportunists whose sole interest is to gain access to positions of authority and influence," he said.