Newly elected ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa has spent the past week visiting former leaders of the ANC and influential chiefs and kings around the country. The visits by Ramaphosa and the ANC leadership are meant to reinforce the party’s mandate to build unity ahead of the January 8 statement celebration, which will be presented on Saturday in East London.
ANC spokesperson Khusela Sangoni said these visits were aimed at “reconnecting the ANC with the people”.
Ahead of their travels Ramaphosa said: “We will be going to every province seeking to forge unity because united we stand, divided we fall.”
The ANC leadership has visited KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape to meet with traditional leaders and perform wreath-laying ceremonies at the gravesites of the late ANC stalwarts. Below is a list of significant destinations by the ANC leadership this week:
Ramaphosa and King Goodwill Zwelithini exchange gifts
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini share a laugh. Picture: WitnessMedia
On Sunday, Ramaphosa visited King Goodwill Zwelithini at his palace in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal. At this visit Ramaphosa gave the king Watusi cattle from his farm. In return, Zwelithini presented him with a Nguni battle shield. Ramaphosa also paid a visit to the king last year as part of his ANC presidential campaign.
Sangoni noted that the ANC president had exchanged gifts with all the traditional leaders he has visited.
Ramaphosa said his most recent visit to the king was a report back on the elective conference held last year at Nasrec.
ANC Deputy president David Mabuza and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile visit the grave of ANC stalwart Reverend Canon James Calata in Cradock, Eastern Cape. Picture: Twitter/African National Congress.
Ramaphosa laying a wreath at the grave of ANC's first president, Dr Langalibalele Dube at Ohlange, north of Durban. Picture: Jabulami Langa
On Monday, Ramaphosa delivered two short lectures and laid a wreath at the gravesites of former ANC presidents and founding members of the ANC John Langalibalele Dube and Pixley ka Seme in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal. He laid a wreath at Chief Albert Luthuli’s gravesite in Groutville‚ KwaZulu-Natal.
During the tribute speech to Chief Albert Luthuli, Ramaphosa said: “I am yet to meet such a well-rounded leader namhlanje (today) within the ranks of our movement. He was a leader par excellence and we can learn from the leadership that he showed and exercised.”
The party’s national leadership ended off their day in East London with a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of Dr Walter Benson Rubusana, a former vice-president of the ANC, for “his significant contribution to the body theory of the struggle for liberation”.
On Tuesday, the ANC leadership arrived at the Nqadu Great Place for a courtesy visit to King Zwelonke Sigcawu in Willowvale. This was followed by an address delivered by Ramaphosa to the community members in Willowvale.
The ANC national executive committee held a special sitting at the ICC in East London on Wednesday. Newly elected ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the agenda for this meeting was the January 8 statement that will be delivered by Ramaphosa this weekend.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa meets Mandla Mandela at the Mandela family home. Picture: Twitter/African National Congress
The national visits were not without setbacks. On Thursday, the ANC top six visited the Mandela home in Qunu, Eastern Cape, but the tight security resulted in some delays. Upon arrival, some of the NEC members were not allowed to entry the premises and had to be introduced by the party’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu before entry was granted. These members included Faith Mthambi, Joe Maswanganyi and Lindiwe Zulu.
The top six had hoped to visit former president Nelson Mandela’s grave but will only be able to visit it next month.
Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela said there were ceremonies that have to be carried out by the family first before the ANC leadership could be allowed to visit the grave.
The nationwide journey is not over. The ANC leadership is planning to visit more traditional leaders and religious leaders.
“This is a continuing programme. [Ramaphosa] will be visiting all the recognised traditional leaders and leaders in the religious communities,” said Sangoni.
“The president has called it a pilgrimage.”