Nkandla – Three best friends who live in kwaNxamalala village, in Nkandla, plan to wake up at 03:00 so that they can be the first in line at the Ntolwane Primary School, where President Jacob Zuma was also expected to vote on Wednesday.
The women - Bizani Mbambo Zuma, 61, Ntombozi maNtuli Nene, 59 and Busisiwe maNgwane - will be among millions of South Africans who will cast their vote in the local government elections on August 3.
President Jacob Zuma was expected to vote at the voting station at 10:00, the Presidency said.
News24 caught up with two of the three women on Tuesday at the village in Ward 14, where Zuma’s homestead is located.
All three women live just a few metres from Zuma's Nkandla homestead.
Bizani Mbambo Zuma, who said she was married to a relative of the president named Njengobani Zuma, ululated when she saw News24.
Struggling to hold back her excitement, she said: "I am going to be the third person in the queue tomorrow morning. I will wake up at 03:00 and I will go and fetch my best friends Busisiwe maNgwane and Ntombozi maNtuli Nene and the three of us will walk to Ntolwane and we will be first in line."
'We will vote for Zuma tomorrow'
The trio see it as a tribute to maNtuli’s late husband, Songelwayo Nene, who was the first to vote at the same voting station in 2009.
"He was always first in the queue when it was the elections. I don’t think we will be able to sleep tonight, we are too excited."
The mother of five said her vote was not a secret.
"We want RDP houses and that is the reason why we will vote for Zuma tomorrow. We will vote for the ANC."
Mbambo said she had been a loyal supporter of the ANC for as long as she could remember.
"[President Jacob] Zuma is a man of God, if you tell him about your troubles; he will make them go away. When we are at the homestead he makes sure that you are attended to and cared for. You will never leave the homestead with an empty stomach," said Mbambo.
After the brief chat, an excited Mbambo went next door to fetch maNtuli Nene, who said the trio had been debating what time they should wake up in the morning so that they could defend her husband’s title.
"In 2009, when we went there, it was my husband and I and another couple. You could have sworn that we were all rushing to get married. We just wanted to be the first voters at the station where the president votes."
'He is our God'
She said she was going to vote on Wednesday because she loved the ANC.
"To be honest, we started off in the Inkatha Freedom Party and when Zuma stopped suffering, we joined him. He has helped us with water and electricity and we want to tell him that we love him as his neighbours."
MaNtuli Nene likened Zuma to a God.
"He is our God. When you ask God for something, he will respond tomorrow or the day after. When you ask Zuma for something, you will get it today," she said.
Busisiwe maNgwane was not present when News24 interviewed her two friends, but they were certain that she shared their sentiments.
News24 also visited Nkandla’s local celebrity, Sthandiwe Hlongwana, who joined the Economic Freedom Fighters during Julius Malema’s campaign in January 2014.
In February, Hlongwane, 33, left the EFF and went back to the ANC. She was welcomed back to the party by ANC Youth League president Collen Maine, who was conducting a door-to-door visit in Nkandla.
Hlongwane said she would be voting for the ANC on Wednesday.
"I am going to vote for the ANC on all three ballot papers."
The unemployed woman said she wanted to vote at the same time as Zuma.
When asked if she regretted joining the EFF she said: "Let’s leave that in the past, I don’t want to open old wounds."
'We are happy he is from here'
Nkosiyabanye Nzuza, 54, also from kwaNaxamalala village, said while his vote was a secret, he would be voting at Ntolwane Primary School on Wednesday.
Nzuza described Zuma as a pleasant neighbour.
"We do not suffer, but we need jobs so that we can make money to buy food for our families. We are happy he is from here, but look at the conditions we are living under."
Nzuza said, if he had an opportunity to speak to the president, he would ask him to build him a RDP house.
At the Mkhize homestead in kaMagwaza village in Ward 13, News24 spoke to Mpisane Mkhize, whose face was painted with ibomvu, to protect her face from sunburn.
The mother of five said she was happy with the service delivery in her ward.
Hebezile Mkhize, in her 80’s, said she too had nothing to complain about.
"Even when Zuma leaves, things will be fine because he delivered all the services. The next leader after Zuma can relax because we have everything," said the elderly woman.
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