Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the winning Eastern Cape leadership in the eighth elective provincial conference to extend an olive branch to the losing group in bid to unite the ANC.
Ramaphosa was speaking at the East London International Convention Centre at the close of conference on Sunday evening where he told delegates that the ANC needed to unite in order to ensure its survival.
Now that Mabuyane has been elected as new chair of the ANC in the province, the province is expected to put its weight behind Ramaphosa’s campaign to become the next president of the ANC.
He is expected to go head-to-head with former AU commissioner chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is favoured by his ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma, to lead the party.
“Rather than those of us who are here gloating and feel victorious, we should be asking ourselves what is our responsibility as the ANC to unite the African National Congress here in the Eastern Cape. That is what we should be focusing on. Comrade Oscar Mabuyane as the chairperson of the ANC here and his comrades who are now officials now have the task of uniting the ANC,” he said.
The party needed to avoid a situation where it emerged divided after a conference, he said.
At the upcoming December conference, the party needed to chose a leadership that would bind the ANC and not a leadership that says the winner takes all and anyone who has lost should get lost, Ramaphosa added.
“We should not be feeling so victorious that we become arrogant. That is not the spirit that we should be exuding,” he said.
He said as ANC members they were members of the same family and should always reach out to one another.
“I am also making a call on those comrades who are not here, comrade Phumulo [Masualle] and others who are not here. I am saying remember one thing – that all of us are members of the family of the ANC. We must all come back and work together,” he said.
Ramaphosa also condemned the violent scenes that played out in the early hours of Sunday morning where opposing delegates assaulted and threw chairs at each another, resulting in some delegates being seriously hurt and hospitalised.
“When I arrived here I thought to myself that there could be people who might have been injured. I wanted to go to hospital to visit those of our comrades who are injured. I was on my way to hospital when I was told that nearly all of them have been discharged,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said the violence was something the ANC should be deeply ashamed about.
“This is not the behaviour that is expected of members of the African National Congress. As the ANC we have to condemn and we do condemn violence as a method of addressing and resolving our differences and disputes among us. We cannot allow violence to be utilised as a way of resolving our differences and disputes amongst us,” he said.
He added that the unfortunate scenes of violence put the ANC into disrepute.
He said the party should also not resolve its problems through courts of law. This comes as the conference he was addressing was being challenged at the East London High court by disgruntled members.
“In KZN today we are resolving precisely a similar problem where there were differences and problems leading up to a provincial conference. It ended up going to court. But the real tragedy is that the ANC remains divided. It remains divided and today we are trying to pick up the pieces and unite the ANC. The ANC in the end becomes the victim, and the one that is more injured.
“What has happened here is something that we have got to address,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the December conference was a beacon of hope to renew and unite the ANC. According to Ramaphosa, the Eastern Cape was a solid stepping stone ahead of the December conference.