Zuma bolstering support with 'People's Assembly'

2017-02-07 20:45
President Jacob Zuma (AP)

President Jacob Zuma (AP)

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Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's planned meet and greet at the ANC's “People's Assembly” on Thursday is a smart foil to any moves that might undermine him at the SONA, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliaton (IJR) said on Tuesday.

“It is also a very clever political move to show your strength on the same day where you might be projected or perceived to be under siege as well,” IJR head of policy and research Jan Hofmeyr said at the release of its “People's State of the Nation Assessment”.

It could be regarded as a practical fallback to show he does actually have support outside Parliament if things go pear-shaped on Thursday.

With the post-State of the Nation Address dinner cancelled to save costs, Zuma plans to pop in to the “People's Assembly” at Cape Town's Grand Parade, where crowds are expected to watch a live broadcast of his address on a public screen.

The Grand Parade was the venue for late former president Nelson Mandela's address after he was freed from jail in 1990.

Zuma is not expected to address the crowd at the Grand Parade. The ANC plans to use the opportunity to discuss its “12 urgent tasks of the movement to radical economic transformation” with its supporters.

After the ANC took a bruising in the local government elections in August, officials from its Luthuli House headquarters in Johannesburg have been moving through regions, cap in hand, asking branches to help rebuild support.

The IJR said what the ANC should really be paying attention to was making sure that it was clear about its policies and clarify what it meant by “radical economic transformation”.

Participants in surveys had flagged inequality as the biggest threat to stability in the country. Instead of focusing on fixing this, political parties were fighting with the ANC and the ANC was fighting with itself, the IJR said.

Despite the torrid time Zuma had in 2016, he was still very much in charge of the country and powerful within his party.

However, only 34% of the people surveyed for the 2015 Afrobarometer said they trusted him “somewhat” or “a lot”, the IJR said. This was down from 62% in 2011. Only 42% said they trusted Members of Parliament.

The IJR warned that as the ANC moved towards it elective conference in December, it should look past its own self-interest to ensure that state institutions did not become collateral damage.

“Failure in this regard will have consequences, also beyond the limits of ANC rule. Indeed, a scenario where the ANC loses power in an upcoming national election no longer seems entirely implausible,” it said.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  politics  |  sona 2017

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