Zuma charms hostile Gauteng
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.