Johannesburg - There is nothing wrong with businesses investing in any political party, President Jacob Zuma said at the ANC's national general council (NGC) gala dinner in Durban on Sunday night.
"Funding for political parties is somehow viewed with suspicion by some commentators in this country and there should be no reason for that," he said.
"However, wise business sense tells you that investing in the ANC, which is supported by more than sixty five percent of the population, is good value for your money."
He thanked companies present at the dinner for their "good business sense".
Businesses played an important role in building infrastructure and contributing to the nation's stability and democracy, he said.
"There is therefore nothing wrong with the business sector investing in any party.
"Political parties such as the ANC are pivotal to the promotion of that stability and democracy in the country."
He told delegates the NGC was an important gathering to ensure the ruling party remained united and strong ahead of its centenery celebration in 2012.
"We have to ensure the ANC is strong, united and focused on achieving its mission of uniting the people of this country and to create a better life for all in a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society."
This after the Sunday Times reported that the ANC's provincial chairperson had to step in to save Zuma from a challenge to his leadership at the NGC.
The move reportedly came after Cosatu's general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi blasted the ANC leadership for having "no backbone" in dealing with its youth wing leader Julius Malema.
"All we want is for our leadership to be strong and make decisions. This paralysis which is caused by young kids must come to an end," Vavi said at an East London rally on Saturday.
The ANC and its alliance partners, the Congress of SA Trade Union and the SA Communist Party, have asked those attending the NGC to focus on policy issues and not leadership squabbles.
Zuma urged delegates at the dinner to ensure that ANC policies and programmes were relevant to the needs of the country.
One of the key areas the ruling party was "lagging behind" in was the universal access to primary education, he said. This after vowing to personally lead efforts to ensure free education "without further delay" at a recruitment drive earlier this month.
Thousands of ANC members from around the country began gathering in Durban on Sunday ahead of the five day policy review meeting.
"We are looking forward to a very exciting, robust and successful week as branches of the ANC engage with the issues that have been placed on the agenda for discussion," said Zuma.
Cosatu wants Zuma to speed up on implementing the policies adopted at the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference. Vavi said the trade union federation would push for a range of economic policies, including creating a state-owned bank to cater for the poor, nationalising vital sectors, such as mining, metals and petrochemicals, a more progressive tax system, and abolishing inflation targeting.