IFP’s ‘secret weapon’ gains momentum

2009-04-16 00:00

It took an anonymous member of the SAP at KwaMashu to verify what people are beginning to wake up to. The IFP’s premier candidate, Zanele kaMagwasa-Msibi, is becoming a serious political drawcard.

For the past three months she has been labelled the IFP’s secret weapon, but for many she wasn’t exactly a household name, despite her impressive record as the mayor of Zululand.

Yesterday, however, proved that reports of growing audiences throughout the length and breadth of this province were not simply “political-speak”.

About 12 000 people packed the stands of the Rotary Stadium in KwaMashu and for 40 minutes were spellbound by her seamless delivery.

“I have attended eight of her rallies and the crowds get bigger and bigger. For me as an individual and a Zulu-speaking person, this woman is inspiring. She doesn’t need notes, she just talks and is so comfortable with the crowd,” said the anonymous policeman.

A community radio station interviewer was asked whether he agreed with this opinion: “Hey, I’m telling you I have attended many rallies for many political parties. But this woman! She fears no-one. She is so confident. I think the ANC have underestimated her.”

Even an IFP organiser for the event was bemused: “We anticipated perhaps 4 000 to 6 000. But this number... she’s becoming a magnet.”

Whatever her allure, the truth is that perhaps more people have physically heard and seen her than any other politician.

It is now widely known that she has covered some 25 000 km by car on her campaign trail, which, she said, began on January 12. This marathon campaign has been complemented by a staggering schedule that reveals an average of between five to eight public meetings a day. Based on an IFP campaign ledger, kaMagwasa-Msibi has convened some 632 public meetings since she began, with a rough attendance register stating that about 800 000 people have collectively attended all her gatherings.

•Richard Compton is an IFP media consultant.

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