Number 1 has mass appeal

2014-03-31 10:00

The recently released Public Protector’s report on the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home has placed him and the ANC on a tidal wave of public sympathy and support.

While so-called political pundits?–?who have no idea of what is happening at grass roots level?–?write Zuma’s political obituary, a groundswell of support is taking place among the rank and file of the ANC and its alliance partners.

In scenes similar to the period leading up to the ANC’s 52nd conference in Polokwane, when Zuma was facing corruption charges, ordinary people have rallied behind him, questioning the timing and motive of the report.

While Thuli Madonsela has explained what might have delayed the report’s release, the general view among the rank and file is that “it’s just an excuse. Her ultimate goal was to embarrass and weaken the ANC and its president.”

This, and the groundswell of support, has spread from one province to another. It was perhaps this that made members of the North West clergy declare their undying support for Zuma while castigating Madonsela.

While the ANC Youth League has been reprimanded for “hurling insults” at her, many members feel the ANC had to do something about the attack against Madonsela, although the general view is that the league was right in attacking her.

Many ANC branches, regional and provincial electioneering events have turned into Zuma support rallies. In ­KwaZulu-Natal, the Progressive Professionals Forum is ­taking the report to court for review charging that it was “irrational, flawed and based on rumour”.

Since Madonsela released her report, memorial lectures and protest marches have been turned into mobilisation drives similar to those that dominated South Africa before the Polokwane conference that propelled Zuma into power.

Zuma has survived many political character assassinations.

What is happening now is a repeat of what characterised his recent political life where he was accused of rape, but the charges and the embarrassment did not stick.

Then it was the “generally corrupt relationship” with his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, who was subsequently convicted of fraud.

But those charges did not stick and instead of the embarrassment levelled at him, it backfired and hit his detractors hard.

South Africa is a highly politicised country where even the illiterate are politically aware. People are aware that the social grants they get are because of ANC policies.

They are aware that the millions of low-cost homes all over the country have been built by the government of the ANC.

They are aware that the peace and stability enjoyed in South Africa is because of the ANC administration.

When they compare all this with where they came from, they don’t see anything better than to endorse the party that has brought so much change to their lives.

Hlongwa is a public servant

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