POLITICS
17/12/2017 06:34 SAST | Updated 17/12/2017 11:48 SAST

Day One: Zuma Says He Rocked As President And He Blames You For Everything

Zuma, in his final speech as ANC president, used the platform to campaign for radicals socioeconomic transformation before tearing into his detractors.

Day one of the ANC's national conference was a severe case of hurry up and wait -- a wait that eventually culminated in a two-and-a-half-hour-long sermon by President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, in his final speech as ANC president, used the platform to campaign for radical socioeconomic transformation before tearing into his detractors.

His targets? Antagonistic alliance partners who strayed from the script; the obnoxious judges who came for his jugular; audacious and agenda-driven (global) media with "vested interests"; NGOs and civil society formations with a penchant for "isiphithiphithi" (chaos); veterans with a vengeance; and disgruntled ANC delegates who dared to disagree.

All have systematically engineered decline, dysfunction and destruction... but not number one. He "tried his best" throughout his 10-year reign and "won't bear a grudge" against you for speaking poorly of him.

But how good was President Jacob Zuma's final speech? Ask the delegates. HuffPost SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee counted only muted applause at four points of the drawn-out speech. She also saw many delegates sleeping, yawning or with their eyes wandering.

Making matters worse, some reporters had to sit on the rock-hard floor in front of delegates, cross-legged and contorted. After 30 minutes it got uncomfortable, at the first mention of the economy our posteriors were starting to numb, but when Zuma hit the hour mark, it was very close to hell. Sitting on one butt cheek, lying on your back, sitting on your haunches... we tried everything. It was hell.

Outside the main hall, there was a sense that the waiting is nearly over. With each process and speech and media briefing, we attending and South Africans everywhere are one step closer to a resolution, a decision that will have a profound effect on the future of the country.

Among the delegates, a feeling of excitement, nervousness and uncertainty as the voting process draws nearer.

There was a six-hour delay in the schedule because of a special national executive committee meeting that had been called urgently to debate the way forward after court rulings on Friday threw various regions and provincial leaders attending the conference into disarray.

All eyes will turn to Nasrec on Sunday, the announcement of the ANC's next leader expected late in the evening.

The question remains: Will the next ANC president lead the party out of the abyss? Or will it have to brace itself for more losses come 2019?