The ANC’s longest-serving president Oliver Tambo can never be compared to the party’s current leader, the scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma.
This is according to former ANC NEC member and minister Pallo Jordan, delivering the OR Tambo Memorial Lecture at the University of Fort Hare’s Miriam Makeba Centre in East London yesterday.
Jordan praised Tambo for insisting on high standards during his reign as the ANC president for more than 20 years.
He was particularly strict on the quality of actions and pronouncements of ANC leaders.
However, said Jordan, such qualities under the incumbent president were in deficit.
Speaking to the Daily Dispatch after his two-hour lecture, Jordan said Tambo’s and Zuma’s styles of leadership were vastly different.
“The qualities of the incumbent president of the ANC are very different from those of Tambo for many reasons.
“For instance, Tambo was academically gifted and well-schooled, and as such could comprehend loaded political reports.
“Zuma cannot because akafundanga [he is not educated]. Everyone who has interacted with Zuma will tell you he is good with interpersonal interactions and it is true, but it is not like he has a choice because academically he is not there,” he said.
Ironically, this was Jordan’s first public address in East London after he was exposed in 2014 for pretending to have a doctorate.
During his lecture, Jordan told the gathering, which included UFH vice-chancellor Professor Sakhela Buhlungu, that Tambo’s greatness was built on his refusal to accept mediocrity in the leadership of the ANC.
“Tambo always insisted on quality. He insisted on the quality of the movement he led.
“He insisted on the quality of its leadership. He insisted on the quality of its pronouncements and he insisted on the quality of its actions,” said Jordan.
The former ANC MP also weighed in on the strained relations between the ANC and its alliance partners.
To this end, he said the frictions were not new as they had been there for decades, dating as far back as the 1960s.
This, he said, became evident during the mid-1960s when many within the ANC were of the belief that the SACP had an inordinate influence on the ANC.
“After that, the influence of the Communist Party in the ANC did decline,” said Jordan.
He said the influence of Cosatu and SACP in the ANC was a fluctuating one, dictated to largely by the prevailing circumstances of the given time.
However, he believed the SACP and Cosatu still had a role to play in the alliance despite new frictions that have arisen with the governing party.
“Maybe the pronouncements of some of the components of the alliance today are making people nervous,” he said in reference to SACP and Cosatu’s call for Zuma’s head.
Jordan expressed optimism that the ANC would conquer the challenges of factionalism it is facing today, saying the party had been “through worse” and emerged victorious. — firstname.lastname@example.org