S.African president urges ANC to return to 'core values'

AFP| Updated: Jan 11, 2015, 01:58 AM IST

South Africa`s President Jacob Zuma said Saturday the ruling African National Congress needs to get back to its core values and fight corruption in its own ranks.

"We are here to serve the people, the people are not here to serve us," said Zuma, who heads the ANC as it moves into its 21st year in power.

"Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the core values of the ANC, which include discipline, selflessness and constructive criticism," he added during celebrations to mark the movement`s 103rd birthday.

His party has been buffeted by attacks on the left from extremist movements spurred by millions of disillusioned South Africans, left behind in the country`s post-apartheid era, who accuse their leaders of bad governance.

Zuma said his party needs to do a better job of managing the country and battling corruption, starting at the local level.

"Every single cadre of our movement must know that his or her responsibility is to make local government function better by getting the basics right," said Zuma.

"The ANC must continue to lead in ending corruption in the state, the private sector and amongst our own members," he added.

The scandal-prone Zuma has been accused of spending $23 million (over 19 million euros) in state cash on a lavish refurbishment of his private residence, though the so-called Teflon president -- `nothing sticks` -- has weathered other storms before.

The president, who was sworn in for second term in May, also repeated his commitment to accelerate a reform of racist apartheid-era land policies.

A 1913 law gave non-white residents access to only 10 percent of the country`s farmland, which was subsequently revised upward to 13 percent. The rule put in place a system that still sees a majority of the best land in white hands.

A law that would redistribute fields more equitably will be voted on this year, Zuma announced, repeating there will be no appropriation of land without compensation.

Firebrand leader and former Zuma ally Julius Malema, whose radical movement won over six percent of the vote in May elections, has continually called for evicting white farmers.

"We must continuously guard against the manipulation of our democratic processes by those among us who wish to use the ANC for personal gain and self-aggrandisement," Zuma said.