President Jacob Zuma.
Image: GCIS

Outgoing ANC president Jacob Zuma has said that regardless of who succeeds him as ANC leader at the party’s national conference this weekend, he is ready to be led.

Delivering the keynote address at the ANC fundraising gala dinner on the eve of the conference in Nasrec‚ south of Johannesburg‚ Zuma said he was willing to serve the party wherever necessary.

“I am grateful of getting the opportunity to serve for the past 10 years. It has been a humbling experience‚” he told guests.

He charmed guests as he spoke off the cuff and joked in his last public address as president of the ruling party.

“When I say to people I never thought I will ever be president. It’s true. I did not try to be president‚” Zuma said.

He said that after the ANC’s unbanning, he dodged being president by going to KwaZulu-Natal to deal with violence there.

Zuma said he was being honest when he said he only wanted to serve one term as president.

“I was not ambitious. I was just carrying out a task‚” he said‚ referring to the past decade as ANC president as “an experience and a half”.

Zuma used his address to thank his deputy‚ Cyril Ramaphosa‚ and the other leaders he served alongside. Earlier‚ he joked that Ramaphosa was outgoing deputy president but he heard that he would be the incoming president.

As the ANC’s national policy conference kicks off in Gauteng, the party leadership race between Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa has intensified.

He spoke about the seven presidential candidates contesting the presidency, saying this demonstrated the level of democracy in the party.

“I’ve worked with all seven candidates at different levels and positions. I am sure they are not going to disappoint you‚” he said.

Zuma said the contest of seven hopefuls showed the party had “enough talent”.

He said that while seven people were running for president‚ they all knew there could only one president – and no matter who was elected‚ the rest would unite behind the new leader.

“I can tell you when we rise from here. The ANC will be as united as anything‚” Zuma said. 

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