Former ANC president Oliver Reginald Tambo also faced problems in the ANC, including lobbying to get rid of him, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday.
Tambo was never obsessed with himself or his position, was humble and greeted everyone by name, Zuma said a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of Tambo in Wattville, Ekurhuleni, on Thursday. It would have been Tambo’s 99th birthday.
In what could be interpreted as a reference to Zuma’s own challenges within the 104-year-old political party, he addressed some of the problems Tambo faced while leading the movement from exile.
Zuma shared with his audience at the Tamboville cemetery his memories of the ANC’s longest-serving president, describing the man many fondly known as O.R. as “something else” and a “rare leader”.
“President Tambo faced big problems as a leader, but had a way to go through the challenges. His own presidency was being shaken down by his own comrades.”
After attempting to walk away from the party during a conference and being coaxed back to address his comrades, Tambo returned without a shred of bitterness.
“It was as if nothing had happened,” said Zuma.
Zuma said the ANC had reached a point most liberation movements experienced, where challenges become too great. He acknowledged that some of these movements had not survived due to the strain of growing problems.
The president of both the country and the ANC’s comments come at a time when some in the party are breaking rank and publicly expressing their frustrations with its leaders.
Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe have admitted that the ANC is at its weakest.
Ruling party supporters should focus on solutions and not problems, and be united, Zuma said.
“We have to show what we as the ANC are made of. We must emerge on the other side and solve our problems.”