NEXT year’s national elections are in the hands of the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) volunteers, said President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.
"We don’t want anything lower than two-thirds [majority]," Mr Zuma said in Johannesburg. "Each time we go for elections we must increase the votes... This is the main duty of the volunteers," he said.
Mr Zuma was speaking at the Gauteng ANC’s launch of its Moses Kotane volunteer brigades ahead of the 2014 national elections.
About 6,000 singing volunteers welcomed Mr Zuma, who was accompanied by Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile.
Mr Mashatile told Mr Zuma the province had its election structures in place.
"There are people who are saying the DA (Democratic Alliance) is coming here and it’s going to defeat us. We want to say to them ‘we will not be defeated here’. We are going for two-thirds majority. We want a decisive victory comrades," Mr Mashatile said.
Both Mr Zuma and Mr Mashatile wore a yellow ANC T-shirt bearing the words "I am an ANC volunteer".
Mr Zuma said volunteers were an important additional structure within the ruling party.
"The volunteer corps must be active. It means they must, therefore, discuss politics. There must be political development. They must understand the interests of their organisation and the interest of the people."
The president gave the volunteers a brief history of how the volunteer corps came to be in the party, dating back to the 1940s. He said volunteers were not like ordinary ANC members.
"A core of comrades who are called volunteers are expected to behave in a certain way. There must be discipline, but as a body [volunteers] must also help to ensure that generally there is discipline within the ANC."
He said volunteers were the lifeblood of the ANC. Volunteering allowed ANC members to participate in the party’s programmes and record what they had done.
"It also helps the leadership to identify the cadres that are able to do everything that the organisation asks them to," said Mr Zuma.
Volunteers were not supposed to be afraid of anything, they had to look after the interests of the party and the people.
"They are there to serve. They must not allow anyone to destroy the organisation," he said.
The Moses Kotane volunteer brigades would be involved in going door-to-door to drum up support and ask people what they wanted from the ruling party.
"We have to know what the people think, we have to be connected to the people. The volunteers must help to get into the houses and get to know what people are thinking about their government, about the successes and the shortcomings."
The volunteers needed to help develop party programmes and implement government policies.
"The government is the government of the ANC, not a government of its own," said Mr Zuma.
"The programmes must be implemented by all of us and the volunteers must be at the forefront so that programmes are not left to chance."
Mr Zuma said the ANC had the best policies to take the country forward.
"Don’t listen to what people say, we have the best policies. It’s about policies and programmes that take this country forward... It is the gospel truth," he said.