President's speech a terrible way to say his goodbyes

ANC President Jacob Zuma addresses delegates at the 54th ANC National Conference taking place in Nesrac.
Jacob Zuma ANC President Jacob Zuma addresses delegates at the 54th ANC National Conference taking place in Nesrac.
Image: MASI LOSI

"I bear no grudges."

This is what President Jacob Zuma told ANC delegates when he opened the party conference at Nasrec in Johannesburg on Saturday, in his last speech as ANC president.

Although he claimed not to bear grudges, his speech said the opposite. He is not a happy man. He attacked everyone who differed with him, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He touched on the deaths of mineworkers during the Lonmin strike at Marikana in 2012. The incident happened when Ramaphosa was a shareholder and non-executive director at the mining company.

He also attacked the judiciary, Cosatu, the SACP and members of parliament who joined forces with opposition parties, civil society movements and the media to back calls for his removal as head of state.

He even demanded that delegates develop a policy that will expel ANC members who turn to the courts when they don't get their way.

Not for a single moment did Zuma take responsibility for anything that went wrong under his watch.

In their last speeches to conference when leaving office, previous ANC leaders always reflected on the challenges that the party faced. These included former president Thabo Mbeki, whose closing address reflected on the problems in the party.

Zuma did not even think that he owed the ANC an explanation on why his last conference as leader was preceded by no less than three court challenges and several assassination of ANC members.

At no point did Zuma admit that he might have erred or divided the ANC, and yet his rise to power has seen the party split three times.

The Congress of the People was formed in 2008 after Zuma was elected ANC president in Polokwane in 2007. Former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema formed EFF after he was expelled from the ANC, and recently former MP Makhosi Khoza formed her own party as well.

Zuma stood in front of delegates and claimed to be leaving an ANC that is strong and united.

He is a liar. The facts are clear for all to see. The conference was already running a day behind schedule, largely because his faction had been trying to manipulate the accreditation of delegates.

Instead of reflecting on his achievements in his opening address and admitting his weaknesses, he shifted the blame and attacked people.

He should have apologised to the ANC that his presidency has harmed brand ANC.

What a terrible way to end his presidency. Sad indeed.

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