Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has vowed to fight for President Jacob Zuma amidst strong calls for him to leave his position.
Zwane, who is the Free State provincial treasurer, did not mince his words when he took to the podium at the ANC provincial manifesto launch proclaiming that it was Zuma who was in charge and would remain in charge of the ANC and the country, and that he would fight with his body and spirit to protect him.
“We are calling on all of you to defend the ANC, to defend our own president,” he said.
Zwane who shouted at the top of his voice said they were sick and tired of people who undermined Zuma, even those “boys” in Parliament.
“When they don’t know what to say, they resort to playing around and ridiculing around the president,” he said to ANC supporters who came in their numbers to the manifesto launch.
Among those who braved the chilly weather in the 20 000-seater Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium in Botshabelo, were the elderly who could barely walk.
“We are here, we will defend our president with our bodies and spirit. We are with him.”
Zwane introduced Zuma, saying it was him who would take the ANC to the elections, where the governing party would show doubting Thomases that the ANC is really alive.
There have been calls for Zuma to resign after the Constitutional Court found that he violated the Constitution.
The ANC national working committee has instructed all structures to convene meetings and discuss the matter.
The ANC in the Free State, under its chairperson Ace Magashule, is seen as a powerful ally of Zuma.
However, some disgruntled ANC members believe that Zuma is a liability and want Zuma to go so much that they marched to the ANC provincial offices last week – a stark contrast to the unity and support shown to Zuma by ANC members bussed in to the stadium.
The launch, where Zuma was the keynote speaker, had been rescheduled from a few weeks ago and moved it to the smaller stadium. Some members said there were ears of failing to fill the 50 000-capacity Charles Mopeli Stadium in Phuthaditjhaba.
Zuma today cautioned ANC supporters to focus on winning the elections convincingly and not divide the organisation.
“The reason is not because we are power hungry but because it is the experienced organisation with a proven record in the cause of improving the lives of the people for the better – especially the poor and marginalised”.
Zuma outlined the importance of local government as the first contact point.
He warned the crowd to reject all attempts to turn municipalities into training grounds for “career politicians who have absolutely no credentials in serving communities, and have no appreciation of where we come from and what must be done to take us to the desired destiny”.
He pleaded for votes, saying that the ANC councillors that would be presented to communities would have gone through a rigourous process to ensure they are best suited for the positions.
“A vote for the ANC is indeed for public participation and accountability. A vote for the ANC is a vote for a better life. We are an organisation with experience and know what it takes to serve our people,” he read from a prepared speech.
Zuma then went on to lecture them about freedom and power.
To get power, one must win elections not by a small margin because that would mean small changes and that was a problem.
He also touched on the Constitution, saying it was the ANC that fought hard to bring the Constitution that is today loved by everyone.
“It didn’t fall from the sky. The ANC led the struggle to bring a Constitution that defines rights and the direction that SA must take. We are here as ANC to defend it with the last drop of our blood because we are oppressed”.
Zuma was happy to welcome a group of DA members into the ANC, including six councillors who were paraded today.
“I’m happy today we welcomed members into the ANC from some organisations I’m forgetting the name. Thank you very much, you are warmly welcomed at home”.
Hendrik Minnie, a Mangaung DA councillor who was among those paraded for joining the ANC said he got tired of racial politics in the DA.