"President Zuma's unpersuasive and lacklustre report yesterday evening elicited a tepid response from an audience that remained unconvinced by his empty platitudes and pernicious blame-shifting for the state of weak governance in South Africa", Ayesha Omar, lecturer in political studies at Wits University, told Al Jazeera.
"We continue to stand by the Palestinian people as they forge ahead under hard circumstances in pursuit of their statehood and self-determination", Zuma told hundreds of ANC delegates ahead of an election to replace him as party leader this weekend.
It was about the candidates competing for his position and who will lead the ANC later during this conference, which takes place at Nasrec until Wednesday.
He said the meeting came after decades of banishment, illegality and exile.
With public support for the ANC falling sharply, the party which has ruled since 1994 when Nelson Mandela won the first multi-racial vote, could struggle to retain its grip on power in the 2019 general elections.
"We are inspired by the history of the ANC that was made in this venue, as we chart the way forward for our movement".
As the ANC opened its 54th national conference on Saturday, the decision taken by the national executive committee (NEC) to revoke the voting status of delegates from some structures in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Bojanala region in the North West is likely to dominate proceedings.
The former chair of the African Union Commission is also Zuma's ex-wife, which brings concern from some South Africans who worry that she will act under the president's influence and perhaps even shield him from possible prosecution.
Mbete said she endorsed Ramaphosa to boost "unity in the organisation" before the 2019 election.
In his final address as ANC president on Saturday, Zuma appeared to endorse Dlamini-Zuma when he said that it was a milestone that there were three female candidates for president. Some observers read the move as a last-minute push to help the campaign of Dlamini-Zuma. "That is important in South Africa because we have a huge gap between rich and poor".
The 68-year-old Dlamini-Zuma is a doctor and former South African minister of health and of foreign affairs, and was an activist during the ANC's long fight against apartheid.
Mpumalanga chairman David Mabuza did not sing along when some of the delegates from his province sang for Dlamini-Zuma.
He also lashed out at members of the ANC who turned to courts to resolve party issued and called on the party to unite behind whoever is declared the victor, saying: "The movement (ANC) must be the victor and not individuals".