KZN ANC rift on display

2019-05-06 14:37
A supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa listens to his speech at the ANC’s final rally, held at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.

A supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa listens to his speech at the ANC’s final rally, held at Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday.

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An ANC provincial rally meant to showcase the ruling party’s strength in KZN ahead of Wednesday’s elections on Sunday hardly filled the small Wadley Stadium in Edendale.

Unlike previous rallies where supporters in green, black and gold packed venues, there were empty patches around the stadium.

By contrast, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a packed Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, while EFF leader Julius Malema spoke to a capacity crowd at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto.

The local Siyanqoba (victory) rally took place amid claims that ANC rebels, particularly in the divided Moses Mabhida region that includes Pietermaritzburg, were not participating in the party’s elections programmes.

A former ANC provincial leader who was part of the crowd in the stands told The Witness that the poor attendance was likely to be a deliberate ploy to embarrass the current provincial leadership. “From the way I look at it this thing has the word sabotage written all over it. I strongly suspect that there was a parallel campaign to ensure that as many people as possible stayed away from the rally.

“I have been part of these Siyanqoba rallies for quite some time but this is the first time I’m seeing this kind of attendance. The sad part is that the rally is supposed to send out a strong signal to everyone that the ANC will win the elections,” he said.

High profile figures who attended the rally included the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member deployed in KZN, Nocawe Mafu, ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala and Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant.

Zikalala, who showed no signs of disappointment over the poor turnout, told the crowd that the ANC would prove sceptics wrong on Wednesday.

“There have been those who have been saying that the ANC is losing support in the province. The truth of the matter is that such people’s lies will be exposed on Wednesday when our people go to vote,” he said.

Zikalala, who was elected ANC provincial chairperson in June following divisions within the party that saw the national leadership intervening on several occasions, said it was impossible for the people of the province to turn against the ANC.

“In the past 25 years that the ANC has been in power, a lot has been done to improve the living conditions of our people. We have built homes for the poor and created business opportunities for our people.

“After the elections, we will make sure that land is given back to our people — we will expropriate land without compensation,” he said.

Former president Jacob Zuma made a brief appearance and said “I don’t want voters to make a mistake on Wednesday. You can’t vote for someone who you don’t know can run the country ... because if you do, that will be a waste of your vote,” said Zuma.

“You also can’t vote for someone who you know very well won’t be able to win because they are small. Your vote won’t do anything”.

He said: “We will continue with the National Health Insurance, that will make sure that all South Africans get access to medical health care at any hospital. We want everyone to have access to medical healthcare.

In contrast to the poorly attended ANC rally, the IFP Siyanqoba rally was addressed by party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi at a packed Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Stadium in Ulundi.

Buoyed by the huge turnout, Buthelezi told his followers that the country’s political landscape will not be same after Wednesday.

“This is it. This is the final stretch. The moment of South Africa’s transformation is almost upon us.”

Buthelezi said South Africans now wanted a party that would treat them fairly. “Throughout this campaign I have spoken to people from all walks of life, in every community, from the rich to the poor, from learners to pensioners, from the unemployed to captains of industry. I noticed that no matter who we are or what we earn or where we live, South Africans share a common hope for the future. We all want justice.”

The ANC remains the favourite to govern the province.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  anc rally

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