Zuma charms hos­tile Gaut­eng

CityPress - - News - SETUMO STONE and HLENGIWE NHLABATHI setumo.stone@city­press.co.za and hlengiwe.nhlabathi@city­press.co.za

As the ANC in Gaut­eng sat this week­end to de­cide whether to make a fi­nal call for Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to re­sign or not, the man him­self was mov­ing from prov­ince to prov­ince, urg­ing sup­port­ers to win lo­cal elec­tions “in big num­bers”.

Zuma told ANC mem­bers and sup­port­ers in Gaut­eng on Fri­day and Free State on Satur­day that win­ning the elec­tions with a small mar­gin would limit the ANC’s abil­ity to gov­ern ef­fec­tively, in­clud­ing chang­ing laws like the prop­erty clause to speed up land re­form.

In the 2014 gen­eral elec­tions, the ANC in Gaut­eng dropped sup­port to 54% from 64% in 2009. Zuma’s de­trac­tors blamed the loss of sup­port on the black mid­dle class’ re­jec­tion of the e-tolls as well as bad public­ity over the close to half a bil­lion rand of state money spent to up­grade Zuma’s pri­vate res­i­dence in Nkandla.

Be­tween 2009 and 2014, the ANC in Free State also dropped from 72% to 70%.

Zuma said elec­tions were an in­stru­ment for power and “if you do not un­der­stand power you will lose it. Peo­ple who un­der­stand power do not play around with it,” said Zuma. “Some­times we do play around with power,” he said.

“With big power you will be able to do big things. Small power does not help,” he said.

The Gaut­eng ANC took up Zuma’s chal­lenge to win elec­tions with a big mar­gin by declar­ing that it would fill up FNB sta­dium dur­ing its elec­tion man­i­festo launch next month as a show of force.

Gaut­eng party chair­per­son Paul Mashatile said Gaut­eng had be­come the play­ground for the op­po­si­tion and the FNB man­i­festo launch must be used to demon­strate the ANC’s su­pe­rior ca­pac­ity to or­gan­ise cit­i­zens be­hind its ideas.

Mashatile said Zuma’s at­ten­dance at the Gaut­eng meet­ing was im­por­tant be­cause “when we in Gaut­eng pro­nounce some is­sues we are wrongly per­ceived to be anti-Zuma”.

“The lead­er­ship of the ANC in Gaut­eng would like to be cat­e­gor­i­cal that we are not against the pres­i­dent of the ANC. But we only deal with is­sues on the ba­sis of prin­ci­ple,” he said.

“For that mat­ter we dis­cuss is­sues openly with­out fear or favour. When dif­fi­cult mat­ters come to the fore we do not bury our heads in the sand. In­stead, we con­front them head-on. That con­sti­tutes the dis­tin­guish­ing fea­ture of our prov­ince.”

The Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee ac­cepted the apol­ogy of Zuma last month, but went fur­ther to say that Zuma must re­flect on the mat­ter and “do the right thing”.

This week­end del­e­gates will be given an op­por­tu­nity to ex­press their views on the mat­ter so that the prov­ince can fi­nalise its po­si­tion.

Mean­while in the Free State, Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane vowed to fight for Zuma amidst strong calls for him to leave his po­si­tion.

Zwane, who is the Free State ANC pro­vin­cial trea­surer, pro­claimed that it was Zuma who was in charge and would re­main in charge of the ANC and the coun­try, and that he would fight with his body and spirit to pro­tect him.

“We are calling on all of you to de­fend the ANC, to de­fend our own pres­i­dent.”

Zwane, who shouted at the top of his voice, said they were sick and tired of peo­ple who un­der­mined Zuma; “even those boys in Par­lia­ment”.

“When they don’t know what to say, they re­sort to play­ing around and ridi­cul­ing around the pres­i­dent,” he told thou­sands who braved the chilly weather in the Kaizer Se­both­elo Sta­dium in Bot­sha­belo.

Ja­cob Zuma

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