President Jacob Zuma on Friday called for unity in South Africa in the run-up to the 100th anniversary celebrations for his ruling African National Congress.
The ANC is Africa’s oldest liberation movement, founded on January 8, 1912, originally to unite blacks in challenging oppression by South Africa’s white rulers.
Zuma highlighted the party’s evolution, stressing its moves to include whites, Indians and mixed-raced “coloureds” as part of the struggle to end the racist apartheid rule.
“The question of unity in the ANC is as old as the ANC itself,” Zuma told a gathering of top party brass at Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill, once a prison that held Nelson Mandela and now home to the nation’s highest court.
“The ANC did not look at the colour of person, but their commitment to a just, free, non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa,” Zuma said.
“Together we must celebrate the non-racial character of the ANC and entrench it further in our country.”
The party also unveiled a new logo for the ANC’s centenary, with 10 figures in black, green and yellow — the colours of the party — waving the ANC flag above the words “Unity in Diversity”.
The ANC is planning celebrations for January 8 in Bloemfontein, the city where the party was founded, followed by a year of concerts, speeches and memorials to the worst atrocities of the apartheid regime.
The ANC has run South Africa since the first all-race elections in 1994 brought Mandela to the presidency.
As a ruling party, the ANC is increasingly under scrutiny over claims of corruption and nepotism, while some leaders have made remarks that offended white Afrikaners, descended from the first European settlers.
But Zuma insisted that the party remains committed to non-racialism.
“What should be judged is what the organisation says,” Zuma said. “If one person or two make some statements that are out of the main context, it doesn’t necessarily mean that mean that we have changed policy.”