S.Africa's Zuma warns party rebels, calls for renewal
South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday wrapped up a key conference of the ruling African National Congress with a warning to party rebels after successfully fending off a challenge for the ANC's top job.
Despite disgruntlement from some sections of the party, Zuma won the backing of more than 75 percent of the vote at the ANC conference -- defeating Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and making himself the odds-on favourite to retain the country's presidency in 2014 general elections.
Zuma said the ANC had adopted a 10-year scheme to revamp itself, and announced that Motlanthe would spearhead a "political education" campaign to whip party members into line.
"Through political education... as well as decisive action against ill-discipline, we will be able to root out all the tendencies that we have identified over the years," Zuma said.
"These include factionalism, the sowing of disunity and confusion within the movement, the use of money to buy members, positions or influence in the organisation, the hurling of insults or, even worse, the attacks on members of the ANC."
The party would "deal" with dissenting members and those "working with members who have been expelled from the organisation, assisting them to undermine the organisation", he added.
"There must be consequences for such ANC members."
That remark will likely be seen as a jab at Julius Malema, a fiery former Zuma ally who led the party's Youth League before being expelled for indiscipline earlier this year.
Malema was axed from the party early this year by a disciplinary panel that was headed by Cyril Ramaphosa -- one of South Africa's richest man who was voted ANC's deputy president at the conference.
Several other resolutions that will "renew and transform" the organisation, were taken at the meeting, he said.
"It is clear that the ANC is renewing itself already."
Zuma called for unity in the party, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, after divisions were laid bare at the meeting as the president's supporters openly mocked his opponents.
"We must all do everything that is humanly possible to lead the organisation in promoting unity," said Zuma.
"As Madiba (Nelson Mandela) taught us, unity is the rock upon which the ANC was built," he said before giving an update on the health of status of Mandela who has been hospitalised for the past 13 days for a lung infection and a procedure to remove gallstones.
"His condition was serious but he is responding well to treatment and has steadily improved over the last few days," Zuma told the ANC members.
© 2012 AFP