JOHANNESBURG – Failure to deepen unity in the African National Congress (ANC) would be a betrayal of the mandate its members have given the new leadership, party President Cyril Ramaphosa said late Friday.
He was addressing the ANC’s gala dinner ahead of the delivery of his January 8 statement, marking the ANC's 106th anniversary.
State heads President Jacob Zuma and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, were also in attendance.
Zuma and Ramaphosa were on their first outing together since the December conference - showcasing the new reality of the ANC.
The ANC, Africa's oldest liberation movement, is adamant the question of whether or not to allow Zuma to complete his term as the country's president has not arisen yet.
Ramaphosa on Friday had little appetite for hard and perhaps possibly controversial politics, opting for safer terrain.
“I don’t want to dampen the mood tonight. So I’ll reserve some of the things I could have spoken about for tomorrow,” Ramaphosa said.
He instead chose to hammer the same speech he delivered everywhere he has gone this past week - unity, unity and more unity.
“If we divide the leadership, we will betraying the mandate of conference. We must unite.”
But for the politically curious, even the mere mention by Ramaphosa of the presidential office in Cape Town, which Zuma currently occupies, was sure to draw reaction.
“If you’re looking at Cape Town from Tuynhuys side, it looks beautiful. We’re looking at this from the right side,” Ramaphosa said.
How deep the unity ANC leaders have been preaching will perhaps be tested in the content and tone of Saturday’s message.