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Zuma asked to apologise over 'ANC comes before SA' comment

The DA & EFF are both calling on the ANC president to apologise for his controversial comments.

An ANC truck drives through the streets of Pretoria during an ANC Women's League march to the Union Buildings on 30 October 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - There has been strong reaction to claims by President Jacob Zuma that the African National Congress (ANC) comes before the country, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) warning the comments show South Africa is heading for a dictatorship and the Democratic Alliance (DA) calling for an apology.

The ruling party held its eighth provincial conference in Pietermaritzburg over the weekend, at which Zuma lashed out at former leaders who have recently criticised the ANC.

In an interview with the Business Day last week, former deputy president Kgalema Mothlanthe said the tripartite alliance is dead and that the South African Communist Party, ANC and Congress of the South African Trade Unions no longer take decisions independently.

Soon after that, former Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said Motlanthe is right to say that the Tripartite Alliance no longer exists, but in fact it has never existed in its proper form.

Vavi said his view is actually more extreme than that of the former president.

"The alliance never functioned. It's not an alliance that was ever designed to drive the process of transformation and fundamental change together."

He said it would be hard for anyone to argue with Motlanthe.

"He has a huge wealth of wisdom in him. Everybody respects him for that and his comments are absolutely spot on."

Meanwhile, the ANC said it affirms its respect for the former head of state as a critical opinion maker on its internal challenges.

At the same time, Veteran ANC leader reverend Frank Chikane has warned the ruling party that it has reached a point of no return and faces the possibility of losing elections unless it owns up to its problems.

Without mentioning specific names, Zuma described comments made by some former ANC leaders as politically immature and cowardly.

"I'll be active in the ANC until I die, so I'll be there all the time, as I've been there. It's not a big deal. I'm not like these ones who go out and start criticising the ANC."

Zuma repeated calls for unity during his keynote address.

Zuma told delegates the ordinary people of the province are not concerned by factional politics but want their lives to be improved.

WATCH: Zuma making the comment referenced in the story (scroll to the 15:25 second mark)