Pietermaritzburg – President Jacob Zuma has told a gathering that it was time to put the interests of the party first because there was no place for violence in a democratic South Africa.

“Regardless who the candidate is… after all, we are all comrades, not enemies. We cannot treat each other as though we do not belong to the same movement. If you did not get an opportunity this time around, there is a next time,” he said.

Zuma was speaking at the ANC’s provincial manifesto launch at the Harry Gwala Stadium in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday where more than 40 000 people gathered to hear him speak.

“I am aware that some people are dissatisfied but that is the nature of democracy; one is elected and one is not,” said Zuma.

The province has been rocked by several killings which appear to be politically linked.

Political killings

In the last two weeks, three Pietermaritzburg ANC members have been killed in suspected politically linked killings. About 10 people have been killed in the province in the lead up to the August 3 municipal elections.

Zuma said the ANC candidate list process was closed and the ANC was satisfied with it. “We call on all our members and supporters to accept the outcomes of the democratic processes even if outcomes are not consistent with what they initially wanted,” he said.

“We must now put the interest of the organisation first because our candidate selection process was guided by principles of the organisation and rules.”

Zuma said, “People out there look at this as a crisis in the ANC, it is not a crisis, it is democracy at play; we have never heard of processes in other parties, is there any democratic process that we can talk about in other parties?”

A chance to lead

He said for the fact that people could voice their grievances in public meant there was democracy. “We are improving all the time, all we need is to perfect it, we are perfecting it.”

Zuma encouraged disciplined members of the ANC to accept the outcomes of all processes. He said the ANC had members who were not in leadership positions but they eventually got a chance to lead.

“We all have a responsibility in ensuring a fair and peaceful elections. The people of KZN know exactly what violence was like… we must do everything possible to prevent violence and help police to arrest those responsible.”

Zuma said violence had no place in a democracy. “Let us unite against those who are trying to sow mayhem through killing people in the province,” he said.

“These senseless killings create pain in the families and the party. Everyone needs to promote free political activity and adhere to the political code of conduct.”