Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SOWETAN

President Cyril Ramaphosa and predecessor Jacob Zuma presented a unified front in KwaZulu-Natal, with Ramaphosa saying he would use the former incumbent “for various tasks”.

Zuma was recalled by the ANC as state president after Ramaphosa was elected president of the party in December 2017, narrowly beating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whom the former leader had championed. She is currently a minister in the presidency.

Ramaphosa took the reins as head of the executive in February 2018, and has made cleaning up the government and restoring damaged state-owned enterprises the defining feature of his presidency so far. 

The relationship between Ramaphosa and Zuma was back in the spotlight after the Sunday Times reported that Ramaphosa had requested a meeting with him to raise concerns about public comments by the latter. Ramaphosa was also reportedly advised to raise alleged state capture and the former president’s court cases.

On Tuesday, Ramaphosa addressed ANC supporters at the Ohlange Institute in Inanda in KwaZulu Natal as part of the ANC 107th birthday celebrations, ahead of the the official January 8 statement, which is delivered annually to coincide with the anniversary of the party's founding. This year it will be delivered at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, where the party will release its manifesto for national elections to be held later in 2019. 

Ramaphosa laid a wreath at ANC founding president John Dube’s grave site earlier on Tuesday.

While welcoming Zuma, who elicited massive cheers from the crowd, Ramaphosa said he was “a former president but a former president that I am going to use as the president of the ANC for various tasks.”

He said the ANC came out of a period where organisational capacity was diminished, but that “we can declare with confidence that both the ANC and the country have entered a new period of renewal.”

Addressing Zuma, Ramaphosa said he had “passed on the baton to me”, and that he would  “run the race” together with other members of the ANC’s national executive committee.

“We will run a good race,” Ramaphosa said.

Referring to the elections, which are just months away,  Ramaphosa said the governing party would be going into the election to achieve a decisive mandate for societal renewal. He said the party did not want to get just over 50% of the support, but wanted a “overwhelming victory”.