South Africa is 'not falling apart' says defiant Zuma at start of ANC conference

 

South Africa's president Jacob Zuma said his country is not “falling apart” as he opened a conference which will decide whether he remains as leader of the African National Congress.

The 70 year old, whose five years at the helm of the party that has led South Africa since the end of Apartheid have been marked by corruption and drift, called on delegates to re-elect him today.

Mr Zuma launched what is expected to be a successful defence of his position from Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, with a song paying tribute to his predecessor and ANC hero Nelson Mandela. As the conference, held every five years, got underway in the central city of Mangaung, images of Mr Mandela, currently recovering from an operation, were everywhere: cut-outs were draped from lamp-posts and his name evoked in speeches and song.

His successors, first Thabo Mbeki and then Mr Zuma, are accused of squandering his legacy and leading the rainbow nation into a state of dissolution. The massacre at the Marikana mine earlier this year the worst mass killing by the police since the end of Apartheid; and two credit downgrades have added to the perception that the country is in a downward spiral.

“Today, the ratings agencies and investors are asking whether the ANC can continue to manage this economy so that we can grow, create jobs, manage our debt and provide policy certainty,” Mr Zuma said. “Yes, the ANC will continue to provide strong economic leadership and steer our economy boldly.”

Behind the scenes the president has fought a bruising battle to hold on to the leadership. His rival, Mr Motlanthe, who briefly led the country as a caretaker president, has been accused of dithering and only declared his intention to challenge a few days before delegates arrived in Mangaung.

Mr Zuma appears to be relying on the return of anti-Apartheid hero Cyril Ramaphosa to frontline politics in order to restore some credibility. Mr Ramaphosa, a former head of the mineworkers' union went on to become South Africa's first black billionaire and will now challenge for the deputy leadership of the ANC. While he remains a powerful figure in the business world, his presence will do little to reassure the rank and file that the party elite is looking after their interests instead of lining its own pockets.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner & Wood Machinist

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This busy local Joinery company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence