'Zuma is our man'

2014-05-04 15:28

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The ANC has pulled off a massive show of strength – and support for its presidential candidate, Jacob Zuma – with its Siyanqoba rallies around the country.

At the centrepiece rally, held at a capacity FNB Stadium with thousands of supporters being accommodated in three spillover venues, Zuma’s popularity as the ANC’s choice, and the ruling party’s backing of him despite a first term punctuated by a series of scandals, was made clear.

The event, broadcast around the country, was carefully stage-managed to build up a frenzy of approval from the crowd for Zuma, who arrived after the rest of the ANC’s top leadership, around an hour late, to massive applause from the 90 000 plus supporters in the stadium.

Fears that the ANC’s Gauteng boo brigade would embarrass Zuma by heckling him came to naught, with the only hitch coming in the form of a DA plane flying over the stadium.

ANC elections head Malusi Gigaba, one of Zuma’s staunchest lieutenants, spent the morning working the crowd ahead of the president’s arrival, focusing the programme around the head of state while a star-studded cast of entertainers kept them occupied.

A confident, relaxed-looking Zuma spent the bulk of his time on the podium listing the achievements of not only a succession of ANC governments since 1994, but those of his administration over the past five years in an apparent bid to deal with the DA campaign to compare his regime negatively with that of previous ANC presidents.

Zuma also focused on post-election promises, including making Grade R compulsory and considering doing away with labour brokers.

He said his administration had provided child support grants to 11 million children from poor homes. It has spent more than R1 trillion on infrastructure projects in a bid to both boost the economy and create jobs.

He said the next ANC administration would focus on economic transformation, enforcing amendments to the Employment Equity Act and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

“We reiterate that we will deliver six million work opportunities in the next five years. We say this based on experience and capacity,’’ he said.

The new Labour Relations Amendment Act, he said, would be enacted and enforced during his second term, doing away with labour casualisation and investigating the idea of a national minimum wage.

“When the new Labour Relations Amendment Act, passed by Parliament, is enacted and enforced in the new term of government, no worker in this country will be employed as a permanent temporary worker. The ANC government will also investigate the introduction of a national minimum wage as one of the key mechanisms to reduce income inequality,’’ he said.

Zuma also claimed serious progress in addressing South Africa’s housing backlog, building 850 000 free houses in the past five years.

“We have worked hard over the past five years to bring about the South Africa that our forebears dreamed about. Our campaign does not end today. Our real work is on Wednesday the 7th of May,’’ Zuma said.

Zuma also thanked all the ANC members who had left to join Cope and who returned en masse recently for doing so and called on ANC members who had defected to other parties to do the same.

» Towards the end of Zuma's speech, tweets indicated that supporters had started leaving the stadium.

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