ANC on election offensive

2014-04-06 14:00

The ANC this weekend consolidated its support in KwaZulu-Natal by sending its national leadership to the province to capitalise on its massive 2009 electoral gains, which will help offset any loss of support in other provinces.

President Jacob Zuma’s support in the province remains strong, while the party machine?–under provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala?–?is among the strongest in the country, mobilising 60?000 volunteers in its campaign.

By-election results since 2011 also point to a big win for the ANC.

It has taken most wards and made progress in historically Indian wards by seizing the space created by the implosion of the Minority Front after the death of its leader, Amichand Rajbansi.

This weekend, its entire national leadership, along with 10 NEC deployees, started campaigning in the province since Friday.

They have been dealing with rural and urban communities, with an emphasis on minority communities, professionals and traditional leaders. Zuma himself was in the Free State.

The ANC election teams in KwaZulu-Natal have been quietly working on a real figure of 70% for the province on May 7.

Said one Pietermaritzburg ANC activist: “We’re working on 70% and we’ll get it. There’s big pressure but we can pull it off here. It will make up for anything we lose in Gauteng or anywhere else.”

Today, Zuma will open Durban’s R25?billion state housing flagship, the 28?000 mixed-income housing unit complex. He will be back in the city next week for ANC campaign work in the coloured township of Wentworth.

His programme is understood to include several other visits to his home province, including Pietermaritzburg, at the end of this month.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said he believed the ANC regarded KwaZulu-Natal as a bolster to potential losses in other province.

“I think there is a general acceptance that the ANC is going to do well in KwaZulu-Natal, the most populated province in the country. This is going to make up for any loss of support in other provinces, particularly those with smaller populations, where they may not do so well.

KwaZulu-Natal will make up these numbers so they are confident that if there are losses elsewhere, KwaZulu-Natal will help compensate for this,” Ndlovu said.

Zuma has asked ANC supporters in the Free State to give the party an overwhelming majority on election day.

Zuma told party supporters at the Fezile Dabi Stadium in Zamdela in Sasolburg that they should not vote for parties that did not boast the ANC’s experience of governing. He said his party had performed better than any African party after 20 years in power.

“You should not vote for people who are not in government in the first instance. Those people want your vote so that they can become honourable members of Parliament and nothing more,” he told a stadium almost full of young supporters.

Earlier, Zuma had visited the residents of Amelia in Zamdela township. He had come to dole out T-shirts and ask them to vote for his party on May 7.

Residents promised to vote for him, but also asked him to attend to their service-delivery problems. Motshidisi Kuzwayo (53) told Zuma that her RDP house had been leaking since storms and winds had damaged it last year. She said the water had damaged her carpets.

“I want you to go inside so you can see what I am talking about so you don’t only hear from me. We are asking for help from the ANC,” she told the president and Free State Premier Ace Magashule.

The ANC leaders went into her two-year-old, red face-brick home to see what she was complaining about.

The organisers of the campaign did not take Zuma to the old section of Zamdela, which was the epicentre of anti-demarcation protests last year after proposals to merge the local Metsimaholo (Sasolburg) municipality with the neighbouring Ngwathe (Parys) municipality.

Free State ANC secretary William Bulwane denied that the move had anything to do with last year’s violent protest. He said the party had decided to come to the most deprived sections of the township.

Later, Zuma and his entourage moved to Parys’ Schonkenville township where he visited a new RDP housing project and some of its beneficiaries.

He also made a stop outside 75-year-old Lydia Kodisa’s house, the resident who used to hide local struggle activists from apartheid police.

The old woman asked for money. But she was not happy when the president handed her a R100 note. She forced him to take out a wad of cash and hand it to her?–?in total she got R700.

Speaking at the Fezile Dabi Stadium, ANC Youth League leader Mzwandile Masina called on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to take Zuma’s Nkandla swimming pool if she did not like it as a security feature.

Masina also said the ANCYL was “game” if Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters wanted a civil war. Malema has threatened a civil war if Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Pansy Tlakula does not step down.

“Their call in the IEC is the precursor to their loss on May 7. They want to blame President Zuma,” he said.

In Durban, at a meeting to welcome 40 white members?–?many of them businesspeople?–?to the ANC’s Ward 97 branch at Amanzimtoti south of Durban on Friday night, Zuma’s deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, punted the National Development Plan and the ANC’s economic policy at length.

Ramaphosa painted a picture of an ANC ready to do business with them, stressing that government would be looking at 70% local procurement for its R3?trillion infrastructure development roll-out.

The questions dealt with economic issues with no one raising any issues about Zuma and Nkandla.

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