And so the race begins
DLAMINI-ZUMA’S PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTS 2017
On the day that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the rest of his Treasury team were infamously recalled from their trip to London, another local politician was on a road trip of her own. The destination: Ben Marais Hall in Rustenburg, North West. Under the watchful eye of the presidential protection unit, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was ushered into a hall filled predominantly with women clad in the ANC Women’s League’s green-and-black regalia.
The former minister, Mbeki-ite, AU Commission chairperson and one-time South African of the year (according to Guptaowned ANN7) had been granted the honour of giving a lecture during Israeli Apartheid Week.
Ahead of the address, her eyes are glued to the paper on which her speech is written. She glances up only occasionally to acknowledge praise, which is repeatedly thrown her way. A regional leader of the women’s league fondly recalls her time with Dlamini-Zuma many years ago, “that time you were still very young, ugida [a dancer]”.
The speech is nothing to write home about. The good (honorary) doctor rarely looks up and the hall grows restless. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, the address is over. Cue some singing and dancing, then Dlamini-Zuma gives a presidential jive and is quickly whisked away.
Fast forward to three weeks later. A lot has happened in a short space of time. About 20 Cabinet changes, including a new finance minister and deputy finance minister, two massive protest marches against President Jacob Zuma, three of the ANC’s top six breaking rank and condemning the reshuffle, only to backtrack after being dealt with by the national working committee (NWC).
Public appearances by the three – secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and deputy president and presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa – have been rare since.
The setting for Dlamini-Zuma’s next appearance is the Zamdela Multipurpose Centre in Sasolburg, Free State. Senior ANC members will deliver a report on the outcomes of the NWC in a “cadres’ assembly”. The report-back will be given by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor, but all eyes are on those who are getting deafening applause upon arrival. They include Free State ANC chairperson Ace Magashule, women’s league president Bathabile Dlamini, and Dlamini-Zuma.
Pandor says a few things about the ANC not being dictated to by the opposition or any other organisation. She slams the use of the courts to settle political disputes that should be debated in Parliament. She emphasises that the ANC has no leadership vacuum, that there is no need for leadership from Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota (leader of the Congress of the People) or Julius Malema (leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters), “the leader of the ANC is Jacob Zuma”.
The ANC has prohibited any talk of succession and political campaigning ahead of its national elective conference in December, where Zuma’s successor will be chosen.
Once Pandor has given the NWC report-back, Dlamini-Zuma gives the keynote address. She is not an official of the ANC, or of any ANC league, nor does she sit on the NWC.
Dlamini is given the microphone to welcome the woman whom the women’s league has pronounced on as its presidential candidate, in blatant disregard of the ANC’s wishes.
It is a warm welcome, but it doesn’t compare to the welcome she gave her in February at a church in Khutsong where she compared her to Jesus, saying she was “both a lion and a lamb”.
“She is fearless and simple. Truth never runs away from her tongue. She is a leader with two ears,” she said then.
Nevertheless, as Dlamini-Zuma takes to the microphone and the attendees jump to their feet, it is all too clear that this is her moment. This is the certified opening of her presidential tour.
“We are not going to have presidents elected through the streets when we have a Constitution that says how presidents should be elected,” she says boldly.
“It is not surprising that the kids will think the ANC is corrupt, the ANC is useless, because that is what they’re fed. And that must also be transformed,” she says.
“It’s the first time I hear of banks allowing people to go out on to the streets and close the banks. It’s clear that radical economic transformation is going to be opposed,” she says, referring to the anti-Zuma protests.
This is nothing like previous appearances, her voice doesn’t shake, she maintains eye contact, she goes off script and fires on all cylinders.
The only similarity between this appearance and the previous one is the presence of the presidential protection unit. When asked by a journalist why they were with her, she stood up and left the room. TALK TO US Who would you like to be the next ANC and possibly South African president – Dlamini-Zuma or Ramaphosa? SMS us on 35697 using the keyword RACE and tell us what you think. Please include your name and province. SMSes cost R1.50
PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma during the Israeli Apartheid Week in Rustenburg