The ANC is united behind President Jacob Zuma and will not field another candidate for the presidency in the upcoming national election, party deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte has said. “There are people who say we don’t want our president,” she told a crowd of thousands at the launch of the ANC’s Western Cape manifesto in Delft on the Cape Flats today. “The policy is that the president of the ANC is always the candidate for the election. We don’t have another candidate and there will be no other candidate. Let us be clear,” Duarte added. Zuma had been scheduled to address the rally but was replaced as keynote speaker by Duarte, who said the president had other commitments. She promised that he would visit the province another time. The African National Congress has been battling rumours of discontent with Zuma’s leadership for the past month after he was loudly heckled by sections of the crowd at the memorial for late former president Nelson Mandela in Soweto on December 10. The ANC reportedly took measures to ensure he did not suffer similar embarrassment at the party’s national election manifesto launch in Nelspruit last week. The Western Cape launch saw an unequivocal pledge from the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) that it would back the ANC in the elections – expected to be held in April or May – and efforts to portray the Democratic Alliance, which governs the province, as a racist party bent on protecting white minority interests. ANC provincial chairman Marius Fransman branded DA leader and local premier Helen Zille a “politically racist gangster” while Duarte accused her party of ignoring the plight of the poor. “Don’t stand still and shout at Helen Zille. What is the point, she doesn’t hear you. Don’t ask her for anything because... she hears only rich people’s voices.” Duarte said the Western Cape had the biggest wealth gap in Africa and the problem would only be resolved once the ANC reclaimed political control of the province. Fransman tried to steal the thunder of the fledgling Economic Freedom Fighters by telling supporters that only the ruling party could bring economic liberation to the poor of the Western Cape. The party planned to make sure that young people drew 60% of the benefit of its employment and infrastructure initiatives, he added. “We will lay the foundation for our youth to have economic freedom, not those who are running around in red berets and have looted the coffers of the ANC Youth League,” he said in a pointed jab at EFF leader Julius Malema. Fransman and Duarte urged supporters to actively canvass members of their communities to vote for the ANC to wrest control of the province from the DA, with Fransman stressing that this would require unity of purpose, as past divisions in the party’s provincial structures had led to defeat at the polls. “When the ANC is divided, that division leads to the downfall of progress,” he warned. Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich urged the trade union federation’s members to vote for its alliance partner, in a clear attempt to minimise the damage from the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s decision not to support the ANC in the election. “Comrades, the two million Cosatu members will vote for the ANC and all our people in the Western Cape must vote for the ANC,” Ehrenreich told the rally. “We are still in the ANC because our work is not yet finalised and we must liberate all our people, including in the Western Cape and the city of Cape Town.” The ANC’s election manifesto has been endorsed by Cosatu as “pro-worker” and the ANC leadership is trying to get Numsa to reverse its decision, which could cast the party at the polls as it relies on the organisational capacity of the trade unions to muster voter support. Numsa has also demanded Zuma’s resignation, adding to the president’s woes as he enters the campaign under the cloud of the Nkandla controversy.