South African President and leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Jacob Zuma has said that infighting has been a main reason for the fall in the popularity of the ruling party.
“Factionalism has become the biggest threat to our movement,” said Zuma Saturday while addressing members of the ANC in a conference that will elect his successor as the head of the party.
Zuma said South Africans had become increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo in the ANC, saying the fall in the party’s approval ratings was clearly felt in last year’s local elections.
“Our people are frustrated when we spend more time fighting among ourselves instead of solving the daily challenges they experience,” he said, adding, “Petty squabbling that takes us nowhere needs to take a back seat.”
Zuma’s reign as South Africa’s president has been marred by graft scandals affecting him and close allies. Opponents in the ANC say Zuma mainly cares more about his close allies and is less interested in the reputation of the ANC, a party credited for South Africa’s rise during the post-apartheid era.
ANC members will elect Zuma’s successor in the five-day ANC meeting outside Johannesburg. The two front-runners in the race are Zuma’s former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who served for a while as the head of the African Union, and Cyril Ramaphosa, Zuma’s current deputy. Many say both candidates would serve as proxies to protect Zuma from criminal prosecution over graft allegations.
Zuma will remain as president until the 2019 elections, when the ANC is expected to lose more seats in the parliament. That potential income would force the party to form a coalition with opposition parties the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters.