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Zuma: It’s been a real honour to lead this glorious movement

Delegates from provinces that support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were on their feet, chanting Zuma name as he closed his speech with a song.

President Jacob Zuma arrives at the plenary at the start of the ANC's 54th national conference on 16 December 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma has used his final political report to thank party members for allowing him to lead them for two terms.

He’s also assured those who’ve turned on him that he holds no grudges.

“It has been a real honour and privilege to lead this glorious movement.”

He spoke about the party’s highs and lows, attacked his detractors and hailed his supporters in the end he told a cheering crowd that he did his best to guide the party.

Delegates from provinces that support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma were on their feet, chanting his name as he closed his speech with a song.

MORE SCANDALS

The start of the ANC’s conference also signals the end of an era, with the curtain coming down on Zuma’s 10 years at the helm of the world’s oldest liberation movement.

While Zuma continues to serve as president of the country, he’s about to revert to being an ordinary member of the ANC.

Zuma swept to power at Polokwane hailed as a ‘people’s president’, replacing the aloof and detached Thabo Mbeki.

Before long, millions of South Africans were getting the treatment for HIV/Aids they’d been denied under Mbeki’s rule.

But it took almost no time for Zuma to become embroiled in the first of the multiple scandals that have marred his tenure and scarred the image of the ANC.

He failed to declare his interests on time and impregnated the daughter of a close friend and comrade. He stood by while nearly a quarter a billion of rand of taxpayers’ money was spent on his private Nkandla home.

In August 2012, came the massacre of mineworkers at Marikana.

But it is Zuma’s relationship with the Gupta family and the evidence that’s emerged of industrial-scale looting that has driven the ANC onto the rocks of public opinion, putting it at risk of an electoral beating come 2019.

Zuma promised to unify the party after his bruising battle with Mbeki but the movement is more divided than ever.

Knitting it together again will be the daunting task of whoever succeeds him.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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