Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday said he would resign with an open heart if the ANC wanted him to resign immediately.
“There is a few more months left before my task as president ends. In December, a new president will be elected. I don’t know who it will be, the ANC will elect.
“In 2019, I will take off my hat being the state president. I want to tell you that even if you said tomorrow I should step down from these positions, I would do so with a clean heart,” Zuma told thousands of ANC members who had gathered to celebrate his 75th birthday in Kliptown, Soweto.
But, said Zuma: “I want to tell you my leaders that I will be a member of the ANC until I die.”
Zuma said when he steps down, he will dedicate most of his time to working for the ANC.
“I won’t demand a salary because I will be a pensioner and I will work very hard.”
Zuma said his skill at debating ANC policies and issues would always have a place in the party.
“I don’t want people to fool themselves that when I step down, I will disappear into obscurity. I will be at my branch. When there is a conference, I will be a delegate, I will be there with you.”
He said when he joined the ANC he did not hold a position.
“To be a member of the ANC is a blessing, getting positions is an added blessing, but do not allow who I am and for members of the opposition to judge me for you. You would have gone off the rails.”
He said the members of the opposition will never be happy “but I will always be with you at the NGC or the policy conference”.
Zuma said he has seen and learnt a lot in his 75 years.
“I have heard stories and I have experienced a lot. I have heard people say, I have heard that you can be friends with someone and then you can stop being friends with them.
“I have heard that do not trust a person, rather trust a rock. I have also decided to trust the rock I used as a young man, you cannot trust a person.”
He said he joined the ANC before it was fashionable to do so.
“I have seen people come and go, I have seen heroes come and go, I have also seen heroes become cowards. I have seen people who said they would die for the nation changing. I have seen people who were taught politics fade into obscurity.”
Zuma said in his lifetime he had had people tell him that they would stick by him only to turn around and stab him in the back.
“There are people today who do not know that we grew up being called names, they think when they call us names today we will hurt. No, we are used to being called names.”
He said those that called him names suffered from a white people’s disease: stress.
“I do not have stress. In the Zulu nation, stress does not exist, you can go to a traditional healer asking to be healed from stress, but they do not have muti for stress.”
Opposition ‘just doing their job’
He also took a jibe at members of the opposition who marched to the Union Buildings on Wednesday calling for his resignation.
“I do not want you to panic but there will be those who panic when the opposition talk the way they are talking. In reality they are just doing their job.
“They are meant to disagree with what others are doing, if they don’t then they are not the opposition.”
He said even if he sneezed or coughed, it would make headlines.
“They will say, he must step down, he does not respect people.”
He said opposition parties criticised the ANC for not implementing its policies, but not the policies themselves.
“Do not be surprised when you see them in Parliament saying ‘point of order’. They are trying to stop us from speaking to our people. Democracy allows for debates to takes place.”