Sunday Times


Heavyweigh­ts put in strong showing to ‘kill Zuma’s MK Party’


The ANC pulled out all the stops to fill Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium yesterday, in a show of strength designed to prove it is still South Africa’s leading political force and deserves another chance in government.

The party’s leadership descended on the province in numbers during the week, conducting a flurry of meetings and mobilising branches and supporters to ensure yesterday’s event was a success.

The ruling party has a tough task in the May 29 elections, with some polls giving it less than 50% support and former president Jacob Zuma’s new MK Party tipped as a serious contender in the province.

While conceding that the ANC had made mistakes in its 30 years in government, Ramaphosa made a strong plea for a second chance.

“The ANC is looking at the next 30 years, we are not looking in the past — we are not only looking at the next five years,” he said.

Ramaphosa seemed unbothered by Zuma’s MK Party breakaway, saying: “Others are removing themselves from the ANC, they don’t belong here. In the ANC there is no place for those who are factional.” He said the ANC will make sure it is represente­d by the “finest leadership” in the next administra­tion.

He called on supporters —“the real spear of the nation” in a clear reference to Zuma’s MK Party — to work together to defend freedom from forces that seek “to use this election to undo the progress of democracy”.

He said his party will concentrat­e on six important issues, including job creation, investing in people, defending democracy and advancing freedom.

The party released its election manifesto at the event, promising to create 2.5-million jobs in the next five years, turn the R350 social relief of distress grant into a basic income grant and amend the law to introduce “prescribed assets”, which would see asset managers compelled to invest a certain portion of funds in developmen­tal projects.

Ramaphosa committed the ANC to advancing industrial­isation as a driver of economic transforma­tion, protecting existing strategic industries such as steel and advancing the industries of the future, including increasing investment in a large-scale social and economic infrastruc­ture plan.

He said the ANC would continue to pursue the realisatio­n of universal, quality, basic services and the provision of a social wage through education, housing, transport, water, sanitation, electricit­y, health care and communicat­ions.

Before Ramaphosa entered the stadium, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) veterans staged a parade, sending a clear message that “the real MK remains in the ANC”.

Despite conceding that the ANC has had failures, with an example being municipali­ties, Ramaphosa argued it has learnt from its mistakes. With its experience, he said, it was the only party fit to govern.

In addition to the thousands of supporters at Moses Mabhida, others crowded into an overflow area at the nearby People’s Park to listen to Ramaphosa.

The rally was Ramaphosa’s latest show of force, not just in a province where his party’s dominance is waning, but the home turf and power base of the ANC’s newest arch enemy, Zuma.

Thousands stood for hours in smothering heat awaiting the president. Ramaphosa commanded the stage to deliver a fiery speech in which he called for “a decisive victory” in May.

Ramaphosa was elected mainly on a promise to end corruption and clean up the ANC. He is seeking a second and final fiveyear term.

He emphasised defending democracy

and advancing freedom through clean governance. He promised to “tackle corruption, improve public accountabi­lity, strengthen investigat­ion and prosecutio­n capabiliti­es and ensure severe consequenc­es for corrupt activities in the public and private spheres”.

Ramaphosa assured supporters that accountabi­lity would go alongside consequenc­e management.

In a further sign that the party is leaving nothing to chance in KwaZulu-Natal, disgraced eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, who has “stepped aside” from her role within the party pending the finalisati­on of her fraud and corruption trial, was roped in to ensure yesterday’s event was a success.

The move is controvers­ial because though Gumede, who is out on bail, has “stepped aside” she remains chair of the party’s influentia­l eThekwini region.

Other former Zuma allies, such as national executive committee members Zweli Mkhize, Dakota Legoete and KwaZulu-Natal leaders Bheki Mtolo and Siboniso Duma, were also key figures who helped ensure Ramaphosa’s strong showing in the province.

Gumede, who was arrested in 2019 on charges related to a R320m waste disposal tender, is understood to have been approached to join the MK Party, but rejected the offer.

Earlier in the week, Gumede took Ramaphosa to her stronghold of Inanda, where he addressed thousands of party faithful.

However, not everyone in the ANC is happy about Gumede’s role in the campaign. Other leaders who are affected by the stepaside rule, introduced to purge the party of corrupt elements after the state capture scandal, questioned the special dispensati­on for her.

Danny Msiza, the ANC Limpopo leader charged in connection with the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, said Gumede’s inclusion was inconsiste­nt with the party’s renewal programme.

“The blatant disregard and inconsiste­nt applicatio­n of constituti­onal prescripts, rules and guidelines on myriad issues, including the step-aside rule, is an affront to the longheld principle of fairness, equity and justice,” he told the Sunday Times yesterday.

“Frankly, it sends a message that formally agreed party positions can be twisted at whim to suit subjective political interests. This indeed is a sad reflection on the collective leadership who have been bestowed an onerous and weighty responsibi­lity to steer both the movement and our country on an appropriat­e trajectory.

“And when some members who can’t fathom this flagrant disregard of consistent applicatio­n of organisati­onal discipline and procedures turn their backs on the movement, they’re labelled traitors or, worse, ridiculed as rejectioni­sts of the so-called renewal programme,” he said.

Neverthele­ss, many in the ANC say the rally successful­ly killed the Zuma rebellion.

ANC NEC member Nkenke Kekana said Zuma and the MK Party had tried to recruit ANC members but were rejected. This, he said, was because the MK Party was mobilising along tribal lines.

“Tribal mobilisati­on has no place in South Africa’s democracy. So if any party, including MK, tries it they are going to fail” said Kekana. “They tried in the ANC but failed and we are likely to see an implosion because it’s just sheer opportunis­m.”

NEC member Mmamoloko Kubayi said ANC canvassers went door-to-door ahead of yesterday’s event to explain that the MK Party was not an extension of the ANC.

This narrative, she said, had been used deliberate­ly to confuse ANC members but the confusion was now cleared.

“Zuma and the MK Party’s wings have been clipped because now people understand that he has left the ANC.

“I think the narrative here is that we’ve been on the ground, we’ve gone door-todoor, it’s the confusion. That’s why he said he’s not left ANC because outside the ANC, he knows he’s not going to survive,” said Kubayi. “People identify with the ANC, not with anything else. Majority of the people when they heard that ‘Oh, no he’s not ANC, he’s independen­t’ came back.”

She said the strong showing yesterday was proof that the people of KwaZulu-Natal understood and respected Ramaphosa as ANC president.

“I think the popularity of the president has been underestim­ated and this is where sometimes individual­s misunderst­and the respect that the organisati­on gives them when they lead. We are taught that you respect a leader because they’re in that position. You are not respecting them, you are respecting the ANC,” she said.

 ?? ?? ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa dances after delivering his speech at Moses Mabhida stadium yesterday.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa dances after delivering his speech at Moses Mabhida stadium yesterday.
 ?? Pictures: Sandile Ndlovu ?? Thousands of ANC supporters filled up Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban to launch their party’s manifesto ahead of the general elections.
Pictures: Sandile Ndlovu Thousands of ANC supporters filled up Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban to launch their party’s manifesto ahead of the general elections.
 ?? Picture: Sandile Ndlovu ?? ANC supporters carry a fake coffin written: RIP Zuma at Moses Mabhida yesterday.
Picture: Sandile Ndlovu ANC supporters carry a fake coffin written: RIP Zuma at Moses Mabhida yesterday.

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