Having survived series of removal moves, South African President Jacob Zuma has admitted that the ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), is beset by corruption and divisions.
He has, therefore, backed calls to set up an investigation into the state capture allegations of corruption.
Zuma said ANC, as the leader of society, must be at the forefront of fighting corruption both in the public and private sector.
The president has been accused of political corruption for allowing his friends, the Gupta business family, to have sway on key government’s decision-making processes to their own advantage.
Zuma told delegates during the opening of a six-day African National Congress (ANC) Policy Conference in Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, that he welcomed a probe into the allegations.
“At a political level, this debate requires a thoroughgoing analysis of the South African political economy so that we can understand what is meant by the state capture. We need to know which business interests have sought to influence the ANC and its government over the years, with what impact, and what must be done to end the said capture,” President Zuma said.
The issue is expected to be at the fore of policy discussions during the conference as ANC reviews its party policies. The gathering is held at least six months before its five-year elective summit.
President Zuma called on the ruling party to reform and turn around its fortunes ahead of elections in 2019.
Mr Zuma may stay on as national president until the election, but he is due to step down as ANC chief in December and the party faces a bitter internal leadership
He warned that ‘slate politics’ could prove costly to the future of the ruling party.
The ANC is deeply divided with one faction supporting the deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to replace President Zuma as party leader in December, while the other is backing former African Union Commission chief Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The president is seen as favouring his ex-wife.
“Factionalism is a cancer that must be rooted out of the ANC,” he said, adding that some party leaders and members have become primary conveyors of negative information about their own movement.
“The challenge for the country is that this irresponsible, perpetual negative messaging by our own people has a negative impact on the economy. We need to discuss how we can balance our valued trait of self-criticism with the need to protect the ANC and provide it with the space to resolve problems in a more organised manner,” he said.
He told delegates that to restore and maintain its character, the ANC needs to cleanse itself of the negative tendencies which have crept in over the years.
On Thursday, party veterans vowed to boycott the first two days of the Policy Conference because their demand for a special consultative session to address internal divisions, corruption and state capture was ignored.
“We now note that the agenda has been changed and the first two days will now be spent on policy matters, reinforcing our belief that the leadership of the ANC is not prepared to confront the crisis and project state capture,” the veterans’ spokesperson, Mr Murphy Morobe, said.