The ANC top six members hold hands after their election at the 54th ANC elective conference at Nasrec on December 18 2017. Picture: MASI LOSI
The ANC top six members hold hands after their election at the 54th ANC elective conference at Nasrec on December 18 2017. Picture: MASI LOSI

ANC deputy president David Mabuza said on Wednesday that had party members elected leaders from only one faction at the December 2017 Nasrec conference, the ruling party would be “limping” today.

Mabuza suggested that the election of a “unity slate” saved the ANC.

He was fielding questions from reporters in KwaZulu-Natal’s Moses Mabhida region, a stronghold of former president Jacob Zuma, where he was mobilising support for Saturday’s ANC birthday bash.

Despite accusations of being  a sell-out by Zuma’s backers after Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lost the ANC presidency to Cyril Ramaphosa, Mabuza said he only preached unity and felt welcome in the province. 

“What prevailed [at the Nasrec conference] is unity. That means branch delegates heard my voice, heard my story that said it looked like this person is making sense,” he said. “Because if we did not go the way we went, probably we will be talking about the ANC limping today.” 

He said the Nasrec outcomes were the will of the branches and, given the nature of democracy,  it was impossible for him to control the results of a conference of more than 5,000 people.

“Remember [branches] took certain people from this faction and took certain people from the other faction and they matched them. That is their own creation, but the outcome is the combination of both.”

Mabuza said he felt well received in the province despite having been seen as the person who “sold out”  at Nasrec. “KwaZulu-Natal is my home, I feel welcome here. People will make stories but not the ordinary people; they will accept any leader of the ANC because they know the ANC. 

“Leaders of the ANC will come and go and tomorrow I won’t be a leader. I must accept and support that, but unity in the ANC is something that we will work on continuously as it is not a once-off project.” 

Mabuza was on a door-to-door trail in Howick outside Pietermaritzburg, drumming up support for the ANC manifesto launch at the weekend. He said the ANC had been looking inwards for a long time and it was now time to focus on serving the people of SA.

“The main problem [in the region] is housing ...  We have realised that the pace at which we are moving as the ANC is a bit slow. I spoke to the people, the councilor, the municipality and I will be back in February to check on progress.”