50 faces of Jacob Zuma

2013-10-06 14:00

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ANC strategy document shows Number 1 at the heart of the party’s ambition for 2014 two thirds majority.

The ANC’s top brass have ordered President Jacob Zuma to be the face of more than 50 successful infrastructure projects before the end of his first term.

This is contained in a document submitted to the party’s lekgotla held in July.

The party insists it is not worried about the scandals hanging over Zuma’s head – Guptagate, the Public Protector’s pending Nkandla report and the DA’s spy-tapes court bid.

It is placing its faith in Zuma to regain its two-thirds majority in next year’s general elections.

Both the party’s big election machines – labour federation Cosatu and the ANC Youth League – are grappling with internal problems, so all eyes will be on Zuma to lead the charm offensive and secure millions of ballot crosses.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini admitted that “due to the current internal challenges, you are not going to see us (Cosatu) at the moment as strong as we are supposed to be”.

The federation was prioritising the disciplinary hearing of its expelled general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, so that it was “fully fledged in the elections campaign”, he said.

ANC and alliance leaders told City Press they were ready to run an election campaign that would paint Zuma as the head of a party that had delivered a better life for the country’s citizens over the past 20 years.

It has also jacked up its election campaign by appointing former youth league leader and Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba as the party’s election head in the place of underperforming Deputy Correctional Services Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi.

A national executive committee (NEC) member said infrastructure was central to the party’s election campaign “as the people opposing you will find it difficult to deny” the party’s achievements in government.

“There is no way you can’t use that when campaigning.

“We brought the schools, clinics and running water to the people. We can’t avoid speaking about it. It will speak for itself. If I say in my area there is electricity now, nobody can say it doesn’t exist.

“We must be able to say this is what we have done in this village and nobody can say it is not there,” said the NEC member.

Meeting documents show that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, speaking at the ANC’s July national lekgotla, recommended that, where possible, Zuma “should lead” the unveiling of projects that were “announcement ready”.

This will be done “through a set of provincial visits coordinated with community mobilisation”.

In the ANC NEC’s Lekgotla Bulletin – a summary of presentations made at the July semiannual meeting and available online – projects that are announcement ready are described as major projects on which a decision had been made, completed in part or completed in full.

These projects include the Majuba rail construction in Mpumalanga, the Mandela development and bridge in Mvezo in the Eastern Cape, and the opening of new hospitals.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at the same meeting described projects ready to go by February next year as “low-hanging fruits” for the party, “projects whose completion will make a huge difference to the people”.

Zuma yesterday handed over a school in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape, built by Anglo American Platinum, although this was not one of the projects listed in the lekgotla documents.

Last month, Zuma missed out on the sod-turning of a new university in Kimberley – one of the projects he was meant to announce – because he was at the UN General Assembly.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande stood in for him.

At least three sources in the ANC said Ramatlhodi was axed because he didn’t do the job properly, leaving party deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte to shoulder much of the work.

Members of the ANC’s elections subcommittee recommended to the May sitting of the NEC that the performance of leaders should be assessed and those who were not committed should be axed, an NEC member said.

The NEC member said one of the reasons Gigaba was chosen was that he could link his work on government infrastructure with elections. Gigaba, as public enterprises minister, oversees many of government’s big building projects.

“He is also very committed. I think the other reason relates to the threat of the EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters, led by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema). (Gigaba) can easily relate to the youth,” the NEC member said.

ANC and alliance leaders said they were not worried that negative perceptions around Zuma would create challenges for the party’s elections campaign.

NEC member Lindiwe Zulu, who was at the forefront of communicating the party’s 2009 elections campaign, said: “At the end of the day, the challenges never end. Today it is Zuma; tomorrow it is something else.”

She added that the ANC’s campaign was not centred on individuals. As the party and the country’s president, “Zuma is the carrier of the message of the ANC”, she said.

Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association chairman Kebby Maphatsoe said negative allegations against Zuma would only win the ANC more votes.

“We have confidence in the leadership of Zuma and he is the face of the ANC in the election. There is no other face, so all these dirty campaigns won’t work, but they will make him more popular. You can’t fool our people.”

Projects on the go – to be announced by ‘Mr Delivery’ Zuma

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