And so the race be­gins

DLAMINI-ZUMA’S PUB­LIC EN­GAGE­MENTS 2017

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: S'THEMBILE CELE

PRES­I­DEN­TIAL HOPE­FUL Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma dur­ing the Is­raeli Apartheid Week in Rusten­burg

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