ANC will use celebrations to reclaim lost support - Mbalula
Johannesburg - The African National Congress will use this year's January 8 celebrations to rebuild confidence in the party and regain lost support, particularly in Gauteng.
This follows a dismal performance by the party, especially in the country’s richest province, during the August 3 local government elections in 2016.
For the first time since the dawn of democracy, the ANC now sits in the opposition benches in the Tshwane and Johannesburg metros as well as in Mogale City municipality in Gauteng. It also lost the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape.
National Executive Committee member Fikile Mbalula told reporters on Wednesday that the NEC statement, which will be delivered by Zuma on Sunday, would touch on self-introspection, correction and social transformation.
"The ANC will use January 8 as an opportunity to reclaim lost ground, restore the confidence of the people... in our movement and as a path to self-correction, in line with concerns raised by our people," Mbalula said.
The party has planned a number of events leading up to the Sunday rally at Orlando Stadium, including celebrations at Soweto's famous Vilakazi Street where former President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu once lived.
NEC members have also been deployed across the province to rally support for the event and are conducting door-to-door campaigns and mini rallies.
Apart from also addressing a gala dinner on Saturday, it is not clear if President Jacob Zuma will participate in the street mobilisation.
He has largely been blamed for the ANC's poor support in the province during the municipal elections.
Mbalula said they would be engaging with the people of Soweto.
"The process of engaging our people will further inform the ANC of the problems we are facing," Mbalula said.
The January 8 statement is expected to be the last one delivered by Zuma, as new party leaders will be elected at its national elective conference in December.
Mbalula said the 105th celebrations would not be a report card on Zuma’s performance, but a political statement by the NEC, reflecting on the challenges faced by the party, as well as international developments.
"The January 8 statement is not the statement about the term of office of the president. The January 8 statement reflects on the political environment, the challenges," Mbalula said, adding that it was also about informing "ANC cadres on the tasks ahead".
He said Zuma would present a political report, which would be a "self-introspection of his term of office", at the national conference in December.
The party would also be holding the first National Executive Committee meeting of the year on Thursday.
National party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the only item on the agenda would be the finalisation of the statement.
This is the first NEC meeting since November, where Zuma survived calls from some of his Cabinet to step down.