Zuma again threatens wrath of ancestors
Port Elizabeth - The ancestors will be upset if the ANC loses control of Nelson Mandela Bay in the local government elections on May 18, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
"The ancestors will be upset if Nelson Mandela Bay is lost because this is the home of the ANC," Zuma told a crowd of about 25 000 at Dan Qeqe Stadium.
Zuma, who was accompanied by Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi, was greeted by singing and dancing before he spoke.
Earlier Zuma said there had been a big debate before the general election in 2009 about whether the Congress of the People would win the metro from the ANC, but this had never happened.
"This is the home of the ANC. No one will take the ANC and no one feels threatened," he said.
Before the rally Zuma handed a new wheelchair to a woman he had met on a previous visit to Zwide. She had complained of struggling to operate her previous wheelchair. Zuma had promised to return with a new one.
DA, Cope coalition
The Democratic Alliance and Cope expect to win control of the metro from the ANC in a coalition after the election.
The rally on Friday was Zuma's last bid at winning over the cash-strapped metro's voters before voting on Wednesday. His campaign visit comes amidst widespread unhappiness in the Eastern Cape ANC over the party's lists of mayoral and ward candidates for the elections.
Party members in the province have complained about flaws in the candidate selection process, leading to court cases and even alleged assassination plots.
In Mthatha, King Sabatha Dalindyebo municipality mayor Siyakholwa Mlamli is under a cloud after his bodyguard and driver were arrested for allegedly soliciting a hitman to kill five prominent provincial ANC leaders.
Earlier this week an Eastern Cape chief, Mwelo Nonkonyana, claimed former ANC president Oliver Tambo spoke to him in a vision about candidate lists in the OR Tambo region. The party's Eastern Cape spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane dismissed it as an act of desperation.
Vavi warned that the ANC faced losing the Nelson Mandela Bay metro due to individualism and greed.
“You may find a very embarrassing situation: Nelson Mandela Bay under a Democratic Alliance leadership,” he said at a meeting in Johannesburg earlier.
“There is real danger that our people, who are sick and tired of all that is continuing to happen in that metro… may decide to stay away instead of voting for anybody else."
Losing control of Nelson Mandela Bay would be a major blow to Zuma as he neared the end of his first term as party president. In the past weeks he had visited the Eastern Cape and Nelson Mandela Bay several times, trying to reassure voters the ANC was still working for the people.
He told a rally in Graaff-Reinet in April the ANC needed to regain its two-thirds majority to be able to govern without the “interruption of opposition parties”, and that voting for the opposition was a waste of time.
The ANC-run municipality in Nelson Mandela Bay had had a difficult time delivering services due to a severe shortage of funds, drained by the building and maintaining of infrastructure for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The Democratic Alliance's caucus leader in Nelson Mandela Bay, Leon de Villiers, believed mayor Zanoxolo Wayile failed residents of the metro by mismanaging the municipality's finances.
"The current cash crisis has seen an amount of R790m being slashed from what was already a very depleted budget, as a result of the cost of hosting the World Cup."
Ratepayers in the municipality, unhappy about the city's "fruitless and wasteful" spending, have promised to take councillors to court every time they made a poor decision.
Nelson Mandela Bay ratepayer chairperson Kobus Gerber cited R9m spent on a city jazz festival while 22 000 poor people still used bucket toilets, as an example.
The city dismissed the criticism, saying its auto-industry-fed economy had been hit by the "great recession". One of the municipality's biggest successes, its spokespeople said, was the 22 000 houses built for the poor since 2008. The DA believed a lower turnout of ANC voters could sway things in its favour in the metro.
The party won 25% of the vote in 2006, taking 30 out of 120 council seats. In the 2009 general election support for the ANC dropped from 69% of the city to 49.6%, while Cope won 17% of the vote.
DA leader Helen Zille, who had also been wooing voters in the city, had been selling the party's success at governing Cape Town, Baviaans in the Eastern Cape and Midvaal in Gauteng.
Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said Zille had "lost her marbles" when, after a rally in Nelson Mandela Bay earlier in May, she alluded to ANC heroes and said the DA was taking the "struggle forward".
“We must never forget our heroes," Zille said.
"Nelson Mandela is the father of our nation. We think of heroes like Oliver Tambo and Helen Suzman. Our heroes struggled for a better life for all. Which party is actually delivering a better life for all?"