Jacob Zuma. (Photo by RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)
Fanfare and a bit of political pageantry livened up the normally peaceful northern countryside of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday as heavyweight politicians including former President Jacob Zuma and IFP leader Mangosothu Buthelezi cast their votes.
Zuma, who was said to be slightly under the weather with flu, was joined in a queue by his wife MaKhumalo when he cast his vote at Ntolwane Primary School in his home town of Nkandla.
While he said very little following his vote, Zuma encouraged citizens to vote. He also observed that many newer smaller parties had emerged which he said was a sign of a growing democracy. Zuma was, however, critical of the media, saying that more should have been done to inform the electorate of the smaller parties.
"This is a very important time for our people. I must also say when you guys are talking to these political parties you are not asking them questions on issues directly. You just wanted them to tell you other things."
I miss Irene - Buthelezi
Speaking at the Buthelezi Traditional Court House in Mahlabathini, the IFP leader said he felt he had achieved much because he was voting in another democratic election.
"It makes me proud to think that we have come this far as a nation. With every election I am reminded of the years of struggle and hope that brought us to this point of being able to vote. Knowing what it took to get here, I exercise my right to vote with tremendous pride. I hope you will too."
He said the only sadness he felt was the absence of his wife of 67 years, Princess Irene - who passed away in March.
News24 reported at the time that the princess was survived by her three children and several grandchildren. In a statement then, the IFP said she died after a "difficult illness", and passed away in the early hours of March 25.Meanwhile, Buthelezi made a u-turn on his earlier promise to retire from politics after the election on Wednesday, IOL reported.After voting on Wednesday, he reportedly told journalists, "Of course I am going to Parliament.""As long as I am alive I will not leave my party," he reportedly said."For all these years, we have gone together to our voting station at the Buthelezi Traditional Court House/Council Offices, and cast our votes together. I miss sharing this and so many other moments with her."
He said that she would have been as excited for elections as he was.
"As much as we worried about our country, we have always maintained hope that South Africa can be restored to the right path."
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