Johannesburg – The birth of the African National Congress was like the day Jesus was born, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
He then compared the party’s annual birthday celebrations to the Hajj — the religious pilgrimage Muslims make to the holy city of Mecca each year.
He was addressing scores of people in Soweto’s historic Vilakazi Street as part of the party’s 105th birthday celebrations this weekend.
“As a nation we must never forget the day because it’s like the day Jesus was born,” Zuma said, referring to the founding of the ANC on January 8 1912.
He urged supporters to attend the party’s rally at Orlando stadium on Sunday.
Speaking in IsiZulu, he said the party had always faced challenges.
“At times people said the party is dying, but the ANC will never die because it is a party of the people. The ANC will live forever.”
His comments come as the party faces deep divisions — which are likely to deepen — ahead of its elective conference in December.
A jovial Zuma downplayed the party’s loss of support in the local government elections in 2016, the first setback it had suffered since the first democratic elections in 1994. The polls were like a soccer match that went to penalties to decide the winner, he said.The ANC lost the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros, the Mogale City municipality in Gauteng, and Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape to the Democratic Alliance.
Zuma urged people to continue supporting the ANC as it had the “best policies” and said the party had always had its detractors.
However the ANC’s birth was historic as it was meant to liberate the oppressed during apartheid and fight for their rights.