Is Jacob Zuma afraid of the hungry people at his gate?

2014-04-15 16:26

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She wonders if President Jacob Zuma fears the hungry people knocking at his gate, former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge has said about the R246 million security upgrades to his Nkandla home.

Speaking at the media launch of the Sidikiwe! campaign in Joburg today, she said: “I sometimes ask myself who does he [Zuma] fear in Nkandla? Is it those people knocking on his gate saying: ‘President, we are hungry’?”

Madlala-Routledge was one of three speakers at a press conference geared towards encouraging South Africans to vote “against” the ANC.

“The ANC was the popular people’s movement where the leaders put people first. What do we see now? We see leaders who put themselves first,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge said she joined the campaign out of a deep love for her country and in honour of struggle leaders who “sacrificed their lives”.

“Instead of sitting in your corner and complaining that your government has forgotten us, and indeed they are showing signs that they have forgotten us, go to the polling booth and use your power to express your feelings about those who rule us,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge suggested two ways in which people could exercise this power. The first option was to support smaller parties, which in turn would take away from the majority party.

“If you can’t do this, then you can spoil your ballot. And this is a valid form of expression. It’s not about forgetting about where we come from and the people who have died, it’s about actually remembering that – how many people have died,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge was joined by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, who said South Africans needed to take a stand. “The ANC is no longer a national liberation movement – they are now just another political party,” he said.

He accused the ruling party of ignoring the pleas of the poor and failing to cater to their needs. “Nelson Mandela said that if we as a party [ANC] don’t deliver, then the people have the right to march against us,” he said.

Kasrils emphasised the Sidikiwe! campaign as a movement that not only encouraged voters to spoil their votes, but that encouraged individuals to vote against corrupt governance.

The campaign has been criticised for encouraging spoilt votes, which will inevitably benefit the ruling party. Kasrils acknowledged the criticism, but argued that a loss in voters to the ANC by 3% or 4% due to spoilt votes would “signal that people are fed up”.

“Vote ‘no’ against corruption and patronage,” he said. Kasrils said, as a struggle elder, he had reached a crossroads – where it felt incorrect for him to turn a blind eye to what was happening in South Africa.

Although Kasrils and Madlala-Routledge had been labelled conspirators and subversive, Kasrils said their aim was to aid democracy. “We need to speak up, we can’t be walking around with rose-tinted spectacles,” he said.

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