Those who have broken away from the ANC are like the donkey on which, according to the Bible, Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the Beeld newspaper reported on Thursday.

ANC president Jacob Zuma used this metaphor while addressing hundreds of Congress of South African Trade Union workers in a packed hall in Polokwane as part of his early election campaign in Limpopo on Wednesday.

He said there was a story in the Bible about a “lucky donkey” on whose back Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the newspaper reported. “The people were waiting for the son of the man who was on the donkey. The donkey did not understand it, and thought the songs of praise were for him,” he said.

According to Zuma, the donkey later tried to return to Jerusalem on its own in order to once again experience that moment of glory, but people chased it away.

In the same way, the Congress of the People (Cope) leaders will find they are nothing without the ANC, Zuma said.

Zuma compared Cope’s leaders to snakeskin that remain behind after the winter, while the snake – the ANC – sailed in its new skin. However, he added that the ANC should allow the dissidents back in should they change their minds and come knocking at the ANC’s door again.

Cope claimed it wanted to protect the Constitution when, in fact, it wanted to amend it in order to change the electoral system, Zuma charged.

He said Cope wanted a direct presidential election, as in the United States.

“The American system is different, because it is based on individualism. One man tells the people he is the best leader and we don’t know if we can believe him or not,” the Beeld reported.