"Each national election is a reminder of [the] great national achievement" of democracy, said African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma. Elections were a celebration of "South Africanness", national pride, and the collective endeavour to "secure the gains we have made as a nation in our 15 years of democracy".
Speaking at a breakfast briefing hosted by the South African Institute of Race Relations in Auckland Park, Johannesburg - attended by over 300 businesspeople - Zuma spoke of the upcoming election as a "true celebration of democracy".
The ANC'S greatest challenge, he explained, was the party's ability to work in partnership. South Africans should come together to "rally around a common cause" and overcome obstacles. "This is why we say, working together we can do more," Zuma said.
Zuma explained that the electorate would have to decide which party offered the best programme and means to improve people's lives. Opposition parties had tried to make this election about individuals and personalities, he said, while voters were only "interested in issues such as jobs, houses, safer streets and an end to corruption".
Some of what Zuma said was likely to be disputed by opposition parties. For example, he explained that the ANC would ensure that those in public service were held "to the highest standards of competence and accountability". Bearing in mind what some see as the ANC's less-than-shining record in terms of service delivery, this comment may not stand up to scrutiny.
Further, Zuma's indication that people would be appointed to positions of responsibility "on the basis of their ability" would likely be disputed by opposition parties, which contend that the ANC had a policy of deploying ‘party cadres' in positions of responsibility.