Zuma sweeps to resounding victory

2007-12-18 21:01

Polokwane - The "Zunami" swept to victory in Polokwane on Tuesday night, a bitterly-contested win that puts him firmly in line for the presidency of South Africa in 2009.

Jacob Zuma beat Thabo Mbeki with 2 329 against 1 505 votes in their race for the presidency of the African National Congress.

There were eight spoilt papers and one abstention.

This was announced by the electoral commission of the party to more than 4000 delegates at the ANC's national conference in Polokwane, Limpopo.

Mbeki was seeking a third term at the helm of the ANC.

The leadership campaign of Zuma, his deputy, was backed by the powerful Congress of SA Trade Unions, the SA Communist Party, five of the ANC's nine provinces, and the movement's youth and women's leagues.

It was Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi who declared two years ago that to stop Zuma would be like "trying to fight against the big wave of the tsunami".

The soundtrack to the campaign of the former liberation fighter was his trademark struggle song Awuleth' umshini wami (bring me my machine gun).

One more challenge

But despite the campaign backing from the left and his image as "pro-poor", Zuma's aides have maintained there will be no deviation from the economic policies the ANC has followed under Mbeki.

The 65-year-old Zuma has massive grassroots support in the ANC, particularly in his home province KwaZulu-Natal.

However he has stirred controversy with his views on women, gays and safe sex.

And he still faces one more challenge in his bid to lead the country: the possibility that the National Prosecuting Authority may take him back to court on corruption charges.

The charges, thrown out of court last year without a hearing, centre on his relationship with businessman and struggle comrade Schabir Shaik, who was found guilty in 2005 of soliciting an arms company bribe for Zuma and jailed for an effective 15 years.

Mbeki sacked Zuma as deputy president soon after the Shaik verdict.

Later that year Zuma was arrested on a rape charge, on which which was acquitted, but not after raising eyebrows with revelations that he knowingly had unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman some 30 years his junior, and took a shower afterwards to minimize his chances of contracting the disease.

Zuma's victory is a massive blow to Mbeki, who used his address at the opening of the Polokwane conference on Sunday to urge the party to opt for "ethical" leaders, and hit out at those in government who engaged in corruption.

There are fears that Zuma's leadership of the ANC will turn Mbeki into a lame-duck president for the rest of his term as head of state, which ends with the next general election in 2009.

Speaking to journalists before the results were announced, ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe said the ANC would wait and see what happened with the corruption charges.

"The issue of comrade Jacob Zuma facing fresh charges is very difficult to deal with, for the simple reason that many people can face allegations at some point or the other," he said.

"The fact of the matter is the State makes allegations and [a person] can be charged and prosecuted... and it will difficult to act against anybody on the basis of allegation."

Motlanthe said the Zuma case had already travelled through the courts once.

"The prosecution will have a second bite at him and we will see how that pans out."

He gave a lengthy explanation of a situation in the 80's where thousands of mineworkers were dismissed, including their president and used this as an example of how "sweetheart leadership" could be sought.

He said: "If we elect him (Zuma) we'll have to accept it, if he is charged, we will have to accept it. We will cross that bridge when we get to it."

  • cb - 2007-12-18 21:56

    i don't really care who becomes the president as I am a citizen of the world, not affected by national issues but freely chose where i leave or stay. however being of SA origin, i am not suprized with the mood in that part of the world. During apathied a section of the population gained from that system and accepted it will another suffered from it and rebelled. Naturally now that the tables have turn, some will not like Zuma but others will.If you do not like him, fight or leave. don't complain

  • Mandla Zungu - 2007-12-18 21:57

    This results show that no one should undermine the call of the people. Thabo Mbeki has learn in the hard way becuase of his arrogant he wouldn't listen when he was told to give a chance to others he thought he was too clever to listen 2 anyone. I only hope that Zuma won't go for revenge and he must just work hard to unite this nation. Good luck Msholozi we prayed for you and God answered our prayers. God bless you and give you more brains to lead and not to disappoint all those who stood by you.

  • Tich - 2007-12-18 22:01

    Sweet win for Zuma but he need to prove reasonable doubt that he is clean of any wrong-doing. I'm happy for him to end the nearly established Mbeki tyrany, that could have led the country into a great depression.

  • Thulani ngwenya - 2007-12-18 22:11

    I suposse the choosing of the presidency was not good enough coz of what HE did as a president. when the rightious are in authority people rejoice but when the wicked are in authority people mourn its time for a change we JESUS IN SA 2 rescue us & that will take GOD fearing leaders. my numbers 073 962 4860

  • Simon - 2007-12-18 22:15

    This is a disaster, and the gutless wonders of the ANC leadership are to blame. Through their insistence on perpetuating the myth that they are a revolutionary liberation organisation, and not allowing their brightest and best to stand for election, we have foisted upon us a populist fool with so many debts to pay to his supporters that he is totally compromised. Watch SA take 100 steps backwards as Mbeki heads into the obscurity he deserves.

  • andy - 2007-12-18 22:26

    The ANC is at crossroads after Zuma victory.Many voters will not vote anymore for the ANC.I is insane to have a laeder that does not command respect and is tragic for the youth seeking rolemodels.The DA , ID is going to grow even bigger because of our own organisation , ANC.Respect is gone and tolerance is zero.Our organisation is now on a foundation of lawlessness, the old man of the youth league is saying nothing o

  • Lucky - 2007-12-18 22:29

    South Africans have to accept the democratic processes of the ANC Zuma is now the president of the ANC his task is to unite the party after this robust campaining from both factions with the party.Maybe he has to return to his post of deputy president of RSA to make the transition even better for the country.

  • Pieter Botha - 2007-12-18 22:30

    Hello, That is just great, a criminal to lead us!!! Can not wait to see the mess after 2010. Love from Germany.. Piet

  • Anon - 2007-12-18 22:40

    God help this country.

  • Nicole London - 2007-12-18 22:47

    I sat at work today eagerly awaiting the outcome of my countries latest election. I was hopeful that we may just get the chance to get our country in order with our current president, Mr Mbeki, get the chance to make South Africa the most amazing place that it can be. Needless to say, I WAS proudly South African, today marks the day of the fall of our country.....its heartbreaking.

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