President Jacob Zuma, yesterday said that the birth of the African National Congress was like the day Jesus was born.

Also, he went ahead to compare the party’s annual birthday celebrations to the Hajj – the religious pilgrimage Muslims make to the holy city of Mecca each year.

Zuma said this while 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.

Zuma 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.

 

He 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.

“We were called names during apartheid. There has never been a time when it was not called names, but it stood firm,” Zuma said.

He was flanked by party veterans Andrew Mlangeni and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa and Gauteng ANC deputy chair and premier David Makhura arrived during his speech. Earlier, they attended the 22nd anniversary of former SACP general secretary Joe Slovo’s death at Avalon cemetery in Soweto.