Madiba’s death may of­fer poll boost to Zuma and the ANC

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 -

A WEEK ago, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma was a leader on the back foot, ridiculed in a front-page car­toon by a news­pa­per ac­cus­ing him of blow­ing R200 mil­lion of pub­lic money on a se­cu­rity up­grade to his pri­vate home.

Seven days later, he has gained some po­lit­i­cal respite through the death of Nel­son Man­dela, an event of such enor­mity in the “Rain­bow Na­tion” that Zuma’s trou­bles could be ban­ished from head­lines well into next year.

Sel­dom com­fort­able in set­piece events, Zuma de­liv­ered the news of Man­dela’s death late on Thurs­day with rare grav­i­tas – a very dif­fer­ent fig­ure from the car­toon char­ac­ter de­picted sip­ping a cock­tail and float­ing in a pool of cash in last week’s Mail & Guardian news­pa­per.

The weekly dealt Zuma a se­ri­ous blow with a re­port al­leg­ing the se­cu­rity up­grade to his Nkandla home in­cluded a cat­tle en­clo­sure and swim­ming pool – re­ferred to in state doc­u­ments as a “fire pool” on the grounds it could dou­ble up as a wa­ter reser­voir for fire-fight­ing pur­poses.

“It’s been a very tough cou­ple of weeks for Zuma, this week in par­tic­u­lar with all the fall-out from Nkandla,” said Wil­liam Gumede, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst at Wits Univer­sity. “But Man­dela might of­fer him some kind of re­prieve. At least peo­ple’s minds are off him for the time be­ing.”

The ANC has stood by Zuma over the Nkandla ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing it be­lieved he had done no wrong. The pres­i­dent’s of­fice has not com­mented.

The 101-year-old ANC is also likely to make po­lit­i­cal hay out of Man­dela’s death, es­pe­cially with an elec­tion less than six months away.

Al­though there is no chance of the for­mer lib­er­a­tion move­ment los­ing its over­all ma­jor­ity, its share of the vote has been wan­ing since the ad­vent of democ­racy.

In 2009 it won fewer than two thirds of votes.

With so-called “Born Free” post-apartheid vot­ers com­ing on to the vot­ers roll for the first

‘There is a down­side – that the com­par­i­son be­tween the two be­comes im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore’

time in 2014, un­en­cum­bered by the emo­tional ties of their par­ents to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle, an­a­lysts say that per­cent­age could drop sharply.

How­ever, Man­dela’s death and the 10-day fu­neral pro­ceed­ings that are set to fol­low are likely to serve as a re­minder to young South Africans of the huge sac­ri­fices made by Madiba and his party.

Busi­ness­man Philip Sikhum­buzo, 35, re­flected the feel­ings of many when he woke his two small chil­dren in the mid­dle of the night and took them, still in their py­ja­mas, to Man­dela’s home in Houghton min­utes af­ter Zuma’s an­nounce­ment.

“It’s late but this is one day in his­tory and I want my chil­dren to re­mem­ber who Man­dela was,” he said.

How­ever, putting Man­dela front and square in its elec­tion cam­paign also car­ries risks for the ANC, not least be­cause it will merely high­light the yawn­ing gulf in stature be­tween South Africa’s first black pres­i­dent and its fourth.

Be­sides the Nkandla im­broglio, Zuma’s five years in of­fice have been tainted by scan­dals and gaffes, from the fa­ther­ing of a love-child with the daugh­ter of a close friend, to a dismissive quip about the state of the roads in nearby Malawi.

Be­fore he came into of­fice in 2009, he had a record that prompted Ger­many’s Stern mag­a­zine to re­fer to him as “The Black Ber­lus­coni”, a com­par­i­son to the scan­dal-plagued Ital­ian politi­cian.

He was tried in 2006 for rape. Al­though he was ac­quit­ted, he ad­mit­ted he had failed to wear a con­dom de­spite know­ing his sex­ual part­ner was HIV pos­i­tive, and had taken a shower af­ter sex to min­imise the risk of in­fec­tion, rais­ing se­ri­ous ques­tions about his judg­ment.

Three years later, he es­caped trial for cor­rup­tion re­lat­ing to a multi­bil­lion-rand arms deal when state pros­e­cu­tors with­drew charges.

Man­dela, by con­trast, was held up as a pil­lar of pro­bity and virtue, a man who, on trial for his life, stood up in the dock in 1964 and de­clared he was pre­pared to die in his quest for a demo­cratic and free South Africa.

“The ANC mo­bil­i­sa­tion and pub­lic face will be very much rep­re­sented by Man­dela for now, so it does al­low the fo­cus to go off Ja­cob Zuma, and in the elec­tion the ANC will in ef­fect be fronting it­self with Nel­son Man­dela,” said po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Nic Bo­rain.

“It’s an ap­pro­pri­ate strat­egy given the kind of trou­ble the pres­i­dent has been in, but there is a down­side to that – that the com­par­i­son be­tween the two be­comes im­pos­si­ble to ig­nore.” – Reuters IN THE light of Nel­son Man­dela’s death the ANC has post­poned a meet­ing of its na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee (NEC) that was to have started yes­ter­day.

The party lead­er­ship was to have put the fin­ish­ing touches to plans for its elec­tion man­i­festo launch next month, and to fi­nalise lists of can­di­dates for Par­lia­ment and the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tures.

In­stead, ANC of­fi­cials met pro­vin­cial party lead­ers and al­liance part­ners yes­ter­day to plan the party’s re­mem­brance pro­gramme for Man­dela, spokesman Jack­son Mthembu said. The NEC later vis­ited Man­dela’s Houghton home.

An NEC meet­ing and list con­fer­ence would be held from De­cem­ber 17 to 19.

Joburg was spe­cial to him, says mayor

THE CITY of Jo­han­nes­burg held a spe­cial place in the heart of Man­dela, mayor Parks Tau said.

“It was here he started his ca­reer and his quest for the lib­er­a­tion of our coun­try and it was to Jo­han­nes­burg that he re­turned af­ter a life­time of ser­vice to the na­tion,” he said.

Tau said Man­dela’s mem­ory would live on through city land­marks named af­ter him, such as the Nel­son Man­dela Bridge in the CBD and Nel­son Man­dela Square in Sand­ton.

“We hon­our his mem­ory and, as a city, we will con­tinue to build on the legacy he be­stowed on us. We will con­tinue to build a united, non­ra­cial, non-sex­ist, demo­cratic and pros­per­ous South Africa.”

E Cape pre­mier salutes ‘true hero’

MAN­DELA will be re­mem­bered as a true hero, East­ern Cape pre­mier Nox­olo Kiviet said.

“We… salute the sac­ri­fices made by Madiba, his fam­ily and his gen­er­a­tion for us to en­joy democ­racy and free­dom,” she said.

“He was ev­ery­thing to all peo­ple.”

Kiviet said Man­dela pos­sessed rare skills, and was in a league of his own.

“We would have been eas­ily tempted to jeal­ously claim him as our own, but we recog­nised that his tow­er­ing stature as a sym­bol of free­dom and peace tran­scended the ru­ral bound­aries of Qunu, his birth place, into the world for the ben­e­fit of all hu­mankind.”

‘He uni­fied world against in­jus­tice’

MAN­DELA will for gen­er­a­tions to come be cel­e­brated as the world’s great­est free­dom fighter, states­man, icon, role model, uni­fier and self­less ser­vant of the coun­try’s peo­ple, North West Pre­mier Thandi Modise said.

“His love for hu­man­ity and chil­dren has left us a legacy, built a mon­u­ment in all of our hearts,” she said.

“If there is any sin­gle per­son that has ever touched and uni­fied the world against in­jus­tice… it was Madiba.”

Modise also re­ferred to the dig­ni­fied way that Man­dela had “fought against ill­ness and old age in the past few months of his life.

PIC­TURE: ETI­ENNE CREUX

LEAN ON ME: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma at mourn­ing for Nel­son Man­dela.

me­dia brief­ing yes­ter­day to an­nounce the ar­range­ments for the of­fi­cial 10 days of

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