Africa

South Africa's Jacob Zuma attacks ANC divisions

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Media captionJacob Zuma: "We are concerned about labelling and other divisive tendencies"

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma has called for unity in the governing party and condemned leadership squabbles in the ANC.

He was speaking to thousands of party delegates in Durban, amid reports of growing unease at his leadership.

He called for a return to "revolutionary discipline" in the ANC.

His address sought to allay the fears of both unions and businesses by promising to create jobs and tackle inflation.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Durban says this was one of Jacob Zuma's boldest speeches in recent times - a rallying call to the party faithful to remain united in the face of damaging divisions.

The ANC's relationship with its union allies has been hit by a recent nationwide strike by some one million civil servants.

But Mr Zuma denied that the ANC's partnership with unions and the left was under threat, saying predictions of the imminent break-up were "a waste of time and ink".

He did, however, warn them that the ANC is the "leader of the alliance".

The head of the Cosatu trade union federation, Zwelenzima Vavi, who recently said the alliance with the ANC was "dysfunctional", welcomed Mr Zuma's speech as "well measured" and "pro-poor", South Africa's Times newspaper reports.

Malema warned

Mr Zuma also took a stiff line on ANC members who publicly condemned the party, saying they would face discipline.

"We have no choice but to reintroduce revolutionary discipline - junior structures must respect senior structures of the ANC," he said.

However, he said the party was more stable than seemed possible three years ago when it was deeply divided between his supporters and those of his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki.

Mr Zuma attacked what he called "worrying tendencies in the party, and individuals" he said "were seeking to put themselves forward for political gain."

Many believe this was directed at ANC youth wing leader Julius Malema, who has recently raised questions about President's Zuma's authority to lead and who is privately reluctant to back him for a second term.

Mr Malema afterwards refused to speak to the media.

The speech was received with sporadic applause, most of which came when he spoke of party discipline.

The president steered clear of publicly pronouncing on Mr Malema's call for mines to be nationalised and the controversial proposed media tribunal, but correspondents say these will no doubt feature behind closed doors during the conference.

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