'Tough test next year for ANC'

The ANC's greatest test will be the 2009 elections, party president Jacob Zuma told the ANC's sixth provincial elective conference (PEC) in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The ANC's greatest test will be the 2009 elections, party president Jacob Zuma told the ANC's sixth provincial elective conference (PEC) in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

"The elections are very important and it will test the ANC to the limit," he said during his closing address.

The elections were not about winning but about making sure more people voted. The party's central task was to prepare properly for the elections, to ensure the ANC's victory. It was up to the delegates to ensure an overwhelming majority, he said.

Zuma congratulated the delegates on a peaceful conference, saying they had shown great leadership potential. Yesterday delegates heard that 25 people had been elected onto the PEC - 12 women and 13 men.

The names of the 20 who were announced included Cosatu's Zet Luzipho, KwaZulu- Natal education MEC Ina Cronje and the province's social welfare MEC Meshack Radebe.

Giving his first speech as new provincial ANC chairman, finance MEC Zweli Mkhize stressed that the ANC would remain united in the province.

He said members competing for positions and material interests were damaging the movement's name. "No member must be allowed to elevate their personal interest to a level that undermines the ANC... No one is that important."

He also emphasised there were no divisions in the ANC and that the party was "one".

"There is no conflict of roles, no leadership crisis and no two centres of power. We remain united as one ANC of KZN.

"Winning or losing in an ANC election does not reduce the respect, dignity that the members had..."

Mkhize said he was shocked at the destruction IFP members left in their wake during a protest in Durban on Saturday. They smashed shop and car windows. He urged police to ensure the perpetrators were caught and that the owners of the damaged property compensated.

Mkhize also said he would pursue bilateral discussions on "outstanding issues" between the ANC and the IFP. The party would stick to their "programme of reconciliation and trust".

On Zuma's upcoming corruption trial, Mkhize said: "We urge the president [Zuma] to remain strong and focus on the task of leading the ANC to victory in the next election."

On Saturday, those aligned with President Thabo Mbeki lost out on PEC posts to Zuma allies. Mkhize replaced Premier S'bu Ndebele who held the position for nearly 10 years.

Speaker of the legislature Willies Mchunu trounced safety and security MEC Bheki Cele for the deputy chairman post. - Sapa

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