South African President Jacob Zuma has delivered the opening address at the ANC’s fifth annual National Policy Conference (NPC), quoting the words of former ANC leader Oliver Tambo that it’s harder to stay in power than to win power. In fact, Zuma repeated them to make sure everyone got the message…

Protesters hang a banner as they hold flags in protest ahead of the African National Congress 5th National Policy Conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Soweto, South Africa, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Zuma said one of the important discussions during the NPC would be the topic of ‘State Capture‘ activities, although he acted as if he had no idea what it was all about, saying “we need to know which business interests have sought to influence” the government and ministers over the years.

Zuma said: “We support an establishment of a judicial enquiry to look into the capture of the state by business… We need to look at impact of state capture activities and solutions to resolve this matter

He said discussion on this at the conference would be important as the ANC must be at the forefront of fighting corruption both in the public and private sector.

Zuma said this policy conference, one of the longest in the ANC’s history, must seek to find solutions – be they political, governmental or social; that enough time has been spent diagnosing the problems. He said solutions are particularly critical regarding the SABC, SAA and Eskom.

Zuma blamed the ANC’s struggles today on colonialism, saying “Africa is part of us as we are part of Africa, first and foremost

Our struggle is inextricably linked with the struggle against neocolonial and imperialism on our continent…”

Zuma said the reason the ANC has lasted 105 years is that when problem threaten its very existence, the ANC is able to self-correct.

He quoted OR Tambo’s 1977 words: “Comrades, you might think it is very difficult to wage a liberation struggle. Wait until you are in power. I might be dead by then. At that stage you will realize that it is actually more difficult to keep the power than to wage a liberation war. People will be expecting a lot of services from you. You will have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people.”

Zuma repeated the paragraph, saying “wise words from one of our wisest leaders” who knew what was coming long before liberation. Zuma explained it is easy to spot a beautiful bridge and put an explosive under it to bring it down, or to see an oil refinery and burn it… “but once you’re in government you have to construct more of the bridges, and more of the oil refineries… That is the difference.”

He reiterated that much of what the opposition parties are doing – by taking battles to court rather than sorting them out in Parliament – is not true democracy… but reminded the ANC that they too need to improve themselves – “we should also look at ourselves, precisely because we now know with a drop of a hat we’re in court… so let’s eliminate the elements that make us go to court.”

The President said success brings its own challenges and as you become victorious, the problems become bigger.

Zuma said the more the difficulties the ANC faces, the more the organisation must be united.

He closed with another quote from OR Tambo, which included the words: “We did not tear ourselves apart because of lack of progress at times, we were always ready to accept our mistakes and to correct them.”