Pityana tells Zuma to step down

The former Foreign Affairs Director-General criticised the party's leadership during Rev Makhenkesi Stofile's funeral service

Sipho Pityana received a standing ovation at the funeral after he gave President Jacob Zuma and the ANC a tongue lashing.

Pityana said that he was disappointed that Zuma was not in attendance, as he wrote the speech anticipating he’d be there. Speaking in English and IsiXhosa, Pityana begged Zuma to step down.

“If the president was here, I would have asked him as my leader, I would have begged him, I would have pleaded with him, I would have prayed. Bendizamngxengxeza, bendizambongoza, ndithi mkhuluwa wam’ nikeza intambo kunyembelekile (I was going to beg him and say ‘My big brother please step down’),” he said during the service held at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape.

“The next battle cannot be led by a leader that has humiliated our organisation and undermined everything we represent.”

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He said it was about time that older leaders in the ANC stepped aside and gave younger leaders a chance to lead the ANC. Pityana said the problems the ANC experienced were self-inflicted.

After his speech, Pityana received cheers and a standing ovation, with other ANC comrades hugging him too.

Pityana said Stofile stood for the right things and did not steal from the poor to build a palace that was over R200 million.

The ANC has been in the firing line from its members due to its poor performance at the local government elections earlier this month. The ANC Youth League has even called for an early elective conference.

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“The ANC must regenerate, and if it does not regenerate, the situation will not improve. It is our view that the ANC must go to an early conference. We do not support the call made by the [secretary-general] Gwede Mantashe of people resigning. If he wants to resign, he must do so alone. The ANC Youth League believes that all the current National Executive Committee members must come to an early conference to account. The early conference must not be contested and there is a need to introduce young leaders to the officials and the overall leadership contingent of the ANC,” the league said in a statement.

Watch Pityana’s speech