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Mantashe addresses Mangaung delegates

Gwede Mantashe is currently addressing ANC delegates at the elective conference in Mangaung.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe smiles as he waits for Jacob Zuma to deliver his opening speech at the party's elective conference in Mangaung on 16 December 2012. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

MANGAUNG - ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe began his address to 4500 delegates at the 2012 ANC Elective Conference at the University of the Free State outside of Bloemfontein on Sunday evening.

Mantashe spoke out against factionalism, slates and media leaks.

He said the ANC is stronger, there is better unity and it has the capacity to deal with contradiction.

But he quickly moved on to the issue of factionalism and warned it could bleed the organisation to death.

Earlier, Mantashe briefed delegates about what has happened in the party since the Polokwane conference five years ago.

"We are faced with both internal and external challenges, but we are coming to this conference saying that we came out of all those challenges intact and strong."

The secretary general has lamented what he calls public spats between ANC members and alliance partners.

"The unruly behavior that gained currency in the run-up to the 52nd national conference fast became a subculture in the organization with many comrades starting to believe that is the way things are done in the ANC, so we had to confront that."

He has also spoken about the recent behaviour of the ANC Youth League which he says has been acting like the opposition.

Delegates are still arriving at the main hall despite Mantashe's report being well underway.

But those who are in the plenary tent are paying close attention to Mantahse and applauded him as he spoke on the difficulties the party faces.

His address continues, and is expected to last up to three hours.

It's going to be a very long night for delegates with the all-important nominations due to take place much later tonight and the programme already running three hours behind schedule.

ZUMA'S SPEECH

During his political report earlier on Sunday, ANC President Jacob Zuma said delegates at conference must review the tender system used by government because it is the primary cause of allegations of corruption against public servants.

Zuma concentrated on socio-economic issues during his address.

He said the debate on the tender system was non-negotiable.

"One area of vulnerability in government is the tender system.

"This conference must deliberate on this issue and we must take a clear decision; If there are allegations held at the government or the ANC, it is on this issue."

He also lauded the police for making South Africa a safer country to live in but said more work needs to be done in the fight against gender crimes.

"We must work harder to reduce and ultimately eliminate crimes against women and children which have not abated up to now."

Zuma said steady progress was being made with the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme.

He said pilot projects were already running in 10 municipal districts across the country.

"This scheme will enable all South Africans to receive quality health care and not only those who can afford to be on medical aid schemes."

PARTY DIVISION

He had plenty of support at the plenary as his supporters were the most vocal.

Loyalists from Limpopo and the Free State were heard chanting his name while holding their two fingers in the air, the symbol synonymous with calls for a second term.

Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe's supporters were also showing their support, but were largely drowned out by vocal Zuma supporters.

Before the plenary broke for lunch ANC chairperson Baleka Mbetha warned delegates not to sing divisive songs in the spirit of holding a peaceful and unified conference.

For Zuma's full speech, click here