‘No crisis, democracy at play’

2016-06-13 12:29
President Jacob Zuma spoke at Soweto Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday, 18 March 2016. He was warmly greeted by thousands of COSAS members.

President Jacob Zuma spoke at Soweto Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday, 18 March 2016. He was warmly greeted by thousands of COSAS members. (Screengrab)

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Pietermaritzburg - Close the ranks.

This was the message from alliance partners as they downplayed protests that have emerged due to ANC candidate lists for the local government elections.

The ruling party hosted its provincial manifesto launch at Pietermaritzburg’s Harry Gwala Stadium yesterday, in the wake of protests and the murders of active political members of the ANC in the Moses Mabhida region.

Though public property has been damaged in the protests, including a R2 million clinic burnt in Copesville during a protest related to the candidate list, President Jacob Zuma said the situation did not constitute a crisis.

“People out there look at it as crisis. It is not a crisis; it is democracy at play.

“The fact that ANC people can voice out their dissatisfaction even in public, that is democracy,” he said.

Zuma called on those not selected as candidates to accept the situation and move on.

“Regardless of who the candidate is, we are all comrades — not enemies. We cannot treat each other like we are not from the same organisation.

“If you were not elected, there is always next time,” he said.

The SACP, an alliance partner of the ANC, had threatened to pull out of the ruling party’s election campaign ­because they were not happy with how the nomination lists had been compiled.

However, provincial ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala said yesterday the alliance partners had attended the manifesto launch to close the chapter of infighting in the alliance.

Zikalala said whoever was unhappy with the lists should voice their concerns within the party’s internal structures.

“They must not go out and burn tyres and schools. These are internal matters that need to be addressed internally,” he said.

Zikalala had a stern warning for ANC members who intended to stand as independent candidates.

“If you decide to become an independent candidate, give back the ANC membership card and T-shirt,” he said.

“If you decide to be an independent candidate, you are independent from what? ANC?” he asked.

Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini called on all those who had not made it to the lists to support those who had been selected.

“Nobody should die to become a councillor,” he said.

If there was one thing that the alliance partners appeared to be worried about, it was the escalating number of political killings in the province.

Four ANC members have been shot dead in the Pietermaritzburg region alone this month.

Zuma called on all political parties to work together to stop the killings.

Known for its dark past of political killings during the run-up to the 1994 elections, the province has seen an increasing number of political killings as August 3 approaches.

Zuma said the “senseless” killings had no place in democracy.

“People of KZN know the pain created by political violence. We do everything possible to assist police to apprehend the perpetraters. 

“These killings only bring pain to the families and the organisation,” he said.

SACP provincial secretary Themba Mthembu said the killings should be addressed urgently.

“We as political heads should provide leadership here. We should not only be reading about them in newspapers,” he said.

The ANC drew thousands of supporters in the party’s gold, green and black regalia.

Many supporters were directed to an overflow venue as the stadium was full to capacity.

There was an emotional moment when Zuma sang his trademark battle song “umshini wami”.

The song became Zuma’s signature theme while attending his trial at the Pietermaritzburg high court.

Without mentioning the party’s name, Zuma took a clear swipe at the EFF for their antics in Parliament.

“Voting for them is like throwing your vote away because they do not know what to do with your vote. They are only there in Parliament to disrupt. Going to Parliament for them is just another source of income,” he said.

Marshals later escorted a woman who heckled Zuma out of the stadium.

When he encouraged people to use water sparingly, the woman shouted “we cannot, Zuma”.

Several ANC members were seen confronting the woman and demanding that she should be removed.

A Hindu leader who offered prayers during the opening of the event was also mocked by the ANC supporters. 

While the religious leader was praying, they laughed and made disparaging comments.

ANC PROVINCIAL secretary Super Zuma took advantage of yesterday’s manifesto launch to introduce new members who he said had joined from the DA.

Provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said the new members were former DA councillors in the Umgungundlovu and uMkhanyakude municipalities.

Zikalala said: “They did not come here with demands of being councillors; they did not join to be councillors, but they joined the party.”

It was not clear which DA councillors had resigned.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, a letter was sent from the offices of Msunduzi Ward 30 councillor Jaiheen Singh, saying that his resignation, which he announced to the media earlier this month, would only come into effect on July 1.

In the letter, Singh said his office would remain functional until then.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Singh confirmed that he had resigned from the party, but would not comment further.

“My options are now left open and I will make a comment soon. Just know that I will not join any political parties to serve in local government,” he said.

“I am still here to serve the community until my resignation is carried through.”

Mergan Chetty, the DA’s mayoral candidate for Msunduzi, rubbished Singh’s claims, saying his position in the party had already been terminated.

Chetty said Singh was informed in March this year that he would not return as a candidate in the upcoming elections.

He questioned Singh’s intentions, saying it was unusual for a party member to give a month’s notice of resignation, when members were allowed to resign with immediate effect.

“Singh’s membership was terminated as of last Friday. He is in receipt of the letter of termination,” Chetty said. — WR.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg  |  anc

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