Elections 2014: Stones, bottles can’t keep Malema from Nkandla

2014-01-12 14:00

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Stones and bottles can’t keep Malema from taking the election battle to Zuma’s home.

The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, yesterday braved an angry, bottle-throwing crowd of ANC supporters 300m from President Jacob Zuma’s Nxamalala, Nkandla, home.

Heavily armed members of the National Intervention Unit accompanied Malema and members of the Public Order Police Unit.

They formed a human shield and forced their way through the crowd that had gathered on the road that runs past Zuma’s estate.

The intervention unit caused a few protesters to scatter, but others were undeterred, throwing bottles at Malema and the police officers protecting him.

The protesters had earlier marched up and down the road, intimidating the EFF team that was rushing to complete a house it was building for destitute resident S’thandiwe Hlongwane.

Hlongwane, whose dilapidated home is situated almost on Zuma’s R208?million doorstep, received a two-bedroom house with a lounge, kitchen and?–receiving a special mention from Malema?–?shower.

After police had cleared the crowd, groups of ANC supporters, who had earlier been led by uMhlathuze (Richards Bay) speaker Mvuseni Mnqayi, stood on the roadside singing insulting songs and hurling abuse at Malema and Hlongwane.

The latter told Malema that the EFF was the first political party that had done something for her.

Malema, who addressed questions and complaints about housing, education and unemployment from residents, tore into the ANC over the attempt to scupper the event. He said they were “fools” who had “no tolerance for other political formations”.

Malema said he had come to Nkandla despite death threats against him and the EFF members building the house.

He said the ANC had to be taught to respect the constitutional rights of freedom of association and freedom of political activity.

Malema told the crowd of about 150 EFF supporters and interested local residents who had come to hear him speak: “Nobody can foresee when we die. When the ticket is written, then it is written. If it has to be from a bullet at Nkandla, so be it.

When Zuma came to my township of Seshego, nobody blocked him because we have political tolerance.

This country is a democratic country.

“I got out of my car and walked past the same ANC people who blocked the road. These police helped me push those people and come here.

“As we were passing, they threw bottles at us, but we did not look back. We had an appointment with the Hlongwane family. We didn’t come to see those people.”

At the end of the event, ANC supporters tried to stone Malema’s convoy as it left, but police dispersed them with tear gas and rubber bullets?–?and made several arrests.

Yesterday, market research company Ipsos released a poll showing that the ANC’s support had dipped to 53% from 63% before the 2009 elections. It put EFF’s support at 4%. Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said South Africans should not read too much into surveys.

“During the period shortly before elections, the media and political analysts predict that the ANC will lose a significant number of voters. But the final results always show otherwise. Election results show that the voters still love the ANC.”

But this election would be different, he said. “Previously, people voted for the ANC even if they were unhappy because there was no credible opposition. Will the EFF address that dilemma? And if yes, to what extent will they eat into the ANC’s support base?

“If they [the EFF] do well, it will be between 5% and 10%. It will be a phenomenal performance if they get 10%. It will be unprecedented in South African politics,” Matshiqi said.

Professor Susan Booysen agreed. “[The EFF] thinks it will get up to 10%. I think it will get between 5% and 6%, with 7% being the absolute maximum.”

Independent political analyst Daniel Silke said while “opinion polls in South Africa have not been particularly reliable”, the ANC will be “relatively fortunate to get about 60% of the vote”.

The EFF will do “credibly enough to get [between 3% and 5%], but claims they could get in the upper single digits are exaggerated”.

Professor Adam Habib, political analyst and vice- chancellor of Wits University, said the “ANC always polls far lower prior to election days”.

“Although many people might not completely identify with the ANC come election time, faced with alternatives, they go with the ANC.”

He was “very sceptical” of a claim that the ANC’s support would have declined to 53%.

“I think it’s one election too early for this to be the turning election. There is no doubt that the ANC is losing credibility fast?...?There are a whole series of indicators from Numsa’s [National Union of Metalworkers of SA] behaviour to the fact that the EFF has emerged.”

He said: “Nkandla is going to become a big issue whether the ANC likes it or not.”

–?Additional reporting by Sipho Masondo and Charl du Plessis

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