‘We won’t sac­ri­fice Zuma for coali­tion’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

JOHANNESBURG — Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will not be sac­ri­ficed for an African Na­tional Congress coali­tion with the Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters, ANCYL trea­surer gen­eral Reg­gie Nk­abinde said yes­ter­day.

“It won’t hap­pen. Only when I am dead. Zuma is not go­ing any­where. We are go­ing to do a nice farewell for him in 2019, when he leaves gov­ern­ment and the ANC, to say he has served us well and best,” Nk­abinde told re­porters in Johannesburg.

His was re­act­ing to the EFF’s de­mand that it would only form a coali­tion with the ANC in some of the coun­try’s met­ros if Zuma was axed.

Three of Gaut­eng’s met­ros were among the 27 hung mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the coun­try, where there had been no clear win­ners fol­low­ing last week’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

Nk­abinde said he was happy with Zuma’s lead­er­ship: “He is my hero; I am more than happy with him.”

While the ANC had some in­tro­spec­tion to do after its poor show­ing in the elec­tions, Zuma was not the ANC, he said. Sup­port for the ANC fell to be­low 60% na­tion­wide, it lost Nel­son Man­dela Bay to the Demo­cratic Al­liance, and failed to gain an out­right ma­jor­ity in sev­eral other met­ros.

Nk­abinde said he did not be­lieve the ANC had per­formed badly, only that it had failed to cap­ture the met­ros.

“Through Zuma we have in­creased our num­bers. Peo­ple love Zuma, they fill up sta­di­ums to lis­ten to him,” he said.

Mean­while, South Africa’s main op­po­si­tion leader pro­claimed the dawn of an era of “non-racial” pol­i­tics en­vi­sioned by the late Nel­son Man­dela on Mon­day, say­ing a bid by the African Na­tional Congress to high­light di­vi­sions at last week’s lo­cal elec­tions had back­fired.

Mmusi Maimane, whose lead­er­ship of the Demo­cratic Al­liance (DA) since last year has helped over­turn its im­age as a party for wealthy whites, called the vote a his­toric break with the past that could bring the DA into na­tional gov­ern­ment in 2019.

The ANC lost its ma­jori­ties in Johannesburg, the sym­bolic Nel­son Man­dela Bay and the mu­nic­i­pal­ity that is home to the cap­i­tal Pre­to­ria, in its big­gest ever elec­tion losses.

The party that has dom­i­nated South Africa since the end of apartheid led the over­all count, but the re­sult dealt a sig­nif­i­cant blow to Pres­i­dent Zuma ahead of the next par­lia­men­tary vote in three years’ time.

The DA is now ex­pected to lead coali­tion gov­ern­ments in two of these elec­toral dis­tricts and also boosted its ma­jor­ity to more than two thirds in Cape Town, which it has run since 2006, a vote of con­fi­dence in its abil­ity to gov­ern.

An­gry about cor­rup­tion, un­em­ploy­ment and poor ba­sic ser­vices, many ANC sup­port­ers turned to the DA — mak­ing a switch that was un­think­able only a few years ago.

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble mo­ment for our coun­try,” part-time preacher Maimane said, dressed top-to-toe in the DA’s blue, from his leather jacket to de­signer shoes.

The ANC cam­paign fo­cused on re­mind­ing vot­ers of its role in end­ing apartheid 22 years ago, and of the DA’s white roots, even com­par­ing the party to the for­mer apartheid regime.

DA elec­tion posters fea­tured images of 36-year-old Maimane in poor town­ships around South African cities, sym­bol­is­ing his role in broad­en­ing the ap­peal of the Al­liance, rooted in a white cam­paign in the 1960s against white mi­nor­ity rule.

“The most his­toric thing about this elec­tion is peo­ple re­jected the racial di­vi­sions and said its pos­si­ble for black and white South Africans to work to­gether,” Maimane said.

Zuma has dis­missed Maimane due to his youth and lack of ex­pe­ri­ence on a con­ti­nent where age is of­ten con­sid­ered an im­por­tant fac­tor in choos­ing a leader.

Maimane, who has a white South African wife, came un­der per­sonal at­tacks dur­ing cam­paign­ing from ANC mem­bers who say he is a pup­pet of a white elit­ist move­ment.

One in­sult in­cluded call­ing Maimane a “coconut”, im­ply­ing he is black on the out­side but white on the in­side.

“I had to en­dure a bar­rage of racial in­sults. What you’ve got to do is to steel your back and carry on,” Maimane said.

“I recog­nise that they wanted to do ev­ery­thing in their power to win, to a point when you recog­nise it’s a tac­ti­cal thing to di­vide the na­tion along racial lines.”

Maimane said he be­lieves it is now pos­si­ble to bring the ANC’s share of the vote in na­tional elec­tions in 2019 be­low 50 per­cent, open­ing up the chance of the DA rul­ing in a coali­tion.

With solid sup­port in ru­ral ar­eas, the ANC still has ma­jor­ity sup­port across the coun­try, a re­flec­tion of its lib­er­a­tion strug­gle his­tory and the sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in ba­sic liv­ing stan­dards for poor South Africans since apartheid.

The ANC won 62 per­cent of the vote in 2014 na­tional elec­tions but only 53 per­cent in the lo­cal vote last week.

If the DA is to gov­ern na­tion­ally it will need to dras­ti­cally re­duce in­equal­ity and con­vince poor black South Africans that it rep­re­sents all races.

Black peo­ple make up 80 per­cent of the 54 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion yet, two decades after apartheid, most of the econ­omy in terms of — own­er­ship of land and com­pa­nies re­mains in the hands of white peo­ple, who ac­count for 8 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

Maimane has promised vot­ers the DA will pro­vide jobs, bet­ter ser­vices and erad­i­cate cor­rup­tion in the cities it runs.

“Mo­men­tum build­ing go­ing to­wards 2019 is about good gov­er­nance. It’s about prov­ing to the pub­lic that we can gov­ern na­tion­ally one day,” Maimane said.

“Where we’ve gov­erned, we’ve grown ev­ery­where. Where the ANC has gov­erned, they’ve gone down.”

The DA will now go into a dif­fi­cult ne­go­ti­at­ing pe­riod over coali­tions, pos­si­bly hav­ing to link up with the rad­i­cal left­ist Eco­nomic Free­dom Fighters (EFF), whose fire­brand leader Julius Malema wants to na­tion­alise mines and take land from whites.

“The ini­tial phases have started,” Maimane said of coali­tion talks, adding that lo­cal gov­ern­ments were about de­liv­er­ing ser­vices and not na­tional pol­icy shifts.

“It doesn’t mean I en­dorse the EFF’s view on white South Africans or that I en­dorse their phi­los­o­phy on na­tion­al­i­sa­tion.” — AFP

Lawyers were among those struck in the blast hours after for­mer Balochis­tan Bar Pres­i­dent Bi­lal An­war Kasi was killed Al Jazeera

Reg­gie Nk­abinde

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