President Jacob Zuma has laughed off calls to step down for "peace's sake", saying every leader of the ANC has faced attacks from political opponents. By Paul Herman, News24.
Zuma was speaking at an SABC New Age Breakfast on Friday morning following his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
SABC journalist Peter Ndoro asked if Zuma had ever thought about resigning for the sake of peace given the public and political backlash against his presidency in recent years.
“For peace’s sake with who?” Zuma said with a smile.
“I’m asking that question, because the first president who became the president of the republic, Nelson Mandela, was attacked by opposition, by forces opposed to the ANC.
“He once called opposition parties Mickey Mouse parties, and they were angry. They have never stopped.
“Then came president Thabo Mbeki. I think he was attacked viciously, by the opposition, and then by the media.
“Then Mbeki left, and Zuma came. He is still in the process of being attacked. The ANC is a big organisation, and opposition wants to reduce it. Not just opposition here, but some forces globally.”
Zuma said that he will be gone in less than three years, and his successor will also be attacked.
“It’s not the individual, it’s not the personality,” he continued to applause.
“Just look how the opposition loves Mandela here. They think he was an angel. But when he was the president he was attacked, because he was the president of the ANC.”
Zuma said the strategy against the ANC was to kill the “head of the snake”.
“That’s where they hit. I’m a very kind fellow, I don’t bite very much,” he said to laughter from the crowd.
“Why would people fight Zuma, really?”
He said disagreements within the party were not a new matter either.
The party’s first president John Dube did not complete two terms, and the ANC encourages engagement and different views, he said.
“It’s part of the life of the ANC. That is our culture, that’s what we do.”
Zuma was also asked what he would like his legacy to be once he leaves office.
“I’m not working for my legacy. I’m working for the ANC, for the legacy of the ANC,” he answered.
“Ever since my young age when I joined the ANC, I knew exactly what I was doing.”
He said the only thing he takes into consideration is whether he is still making a contribution to the ANC or not, because through the party he contributes to the country.
“I’ve never one day stopped and said, ‘what is going to be my legacy?'”
“That’s not what I work for. What is going to be the ANC’s legacy? That is what I work on all the time.”
Zuma had one last message for South Africans, asking them to work together for the prosperity of the country, as former ANC leader Oliver Tambo once espoused.
“As a country, we need to go to the values that one of our greatest leaders believed in.
“The wish that SA reaches a state of prosperity. And we can only do it together, if there is cohesion, if we love our country, and we do everything to promote our country.
“That is crucial for all South Africans to say: what can I do for my country, so my country reaches prosperity?”
Zuma is due to attend his Presidential Golf Day in Cape Town later on Friday.
He said his golf game is not the greatest, but as long as he gets it up and in the air he has succeeded. DM
Photo: South African President Jacob Zuma speaks to delegates at the Harare International Conference Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe, 03 November 2016. EPA/AARON UFUMELI
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