President Jacob Zuma squandered his last chance to impress ANC supporters as crowds dwindled during his lacklustre performance at the Siyanqoba rally.
The ANC’s Siyanqoba rally on Sunday presented a rare opportunity for party president Jacob Zuma to steal the limelight in the last push for votes but once again he failed to capture the mood of supporters when he took to the podium.
Predictably so, Zuma’s speech was littered with what the party had achieved over the past 20 years but plans for the next five years were noticeably absent. So uninspiring was Zuma’s speech that many supporters – who earlier gave him a rousing welcome – walked out during his address. By the time he finished, the packed 90 000-capacity FNB Stadium had halved in number.
During proceedings, a small Democratic Alliance aircraft hovered over the stadium with a bold message urging citizens to vote DA, much to the dismay and irritation of many staunch ANC supporters.
The ANC rally was attended by fraternal organisations from across the SADC region, including Zimbabwe’s Zanu-PF, Tanzania’s Chama Chamapinduzi, the Botswana People’s Convention and Namibia’s Swapo.
The rally was not short of razzmatazz and included performances by Dr Malinga, Solly Moholo, Zahara, Mafikizolo and hip-hop star AKA. Zuma was not to be outshined, however, as he led national executive committee members in his trademark song Yinde Lendlela, delighting supporters.
In his speech, Zuma said economic transformation would remain a key priority of his administration and reiterated the ANC’s plans to deliver six-million job opportunities over the next five years.
“We will strengthen the enforcement of the provisions of the newly-amended Employment Equity Act and the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act. Successful implementation will open more opportunities for African, Indian and coloured people as well as women, the youth and persons with disabilities as we reverse the apartheid legacy,” said Zuma.
Zuma said that since 2009, his administration had created 3.9-million work opportunities through the Public Works Programme.
“Our target had been four-million. We will work with various communities to ensure the achievement of this goal”.
In an attempt to appease the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zuma said government was investigating the possibility of introducing a national minimum wage.
He also boasted that the ANC government had introduced labour-friendly laws over the past five years to protect the rights of workers such as the Labour Relations Act and the Basic Condition of Employment Act.
“These changes to our labour regime have taken many vulnerable workers out of poverty and ensured that the promise of decent work is fulfilled. Although we have made great strides over this period, there are still many workers who are still employed as permanent temporary employees by labour brokers.
They get paid less than other workers doing the same job. They have no access to social benefits and are not unionised. When the new Labour Relations Amendment Act, passed by Parliament, is enacted and enforced in the new term of government, no worker in this country will be employed as a permanent temporary worker,” said Zuma.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini reiterated the union federation’s support for the ANC ahead of next week’s polls.
He said Cosatu would be working with the ANC to take forward the radical economic transformation.
“This [ANC] alliance will continue to lead this country. Whether some claim that they are blue, we shall paint this country green, black and gold.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said he was convinced many workers in the country would support the ANC during the elections.
He said workers should not be fooled by some unions [like Numsa] who want to turn their organisations into political parties.
“As the SACP, we have been traveling this road with the ANC since 1928. We are not Mafikisolo [newcomers]. Those who say we must forget what the ANC did, we are not going to do that. Let’s also ignore those who say we must spoil our votes, said Nzimande.
Zuma also urged those who had left the ANC to return to it.
“We thank all our people who have left the ANC, who responded to the call we made that they should return home,” he told supporters.
“We urge all others who are still in other parties to make the journey home.”
Zuma assured them they would be warmly received.
Green, black and gold
ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela also attended the rally on Sunday.
She arrived dressed in full black as she was still in mourning since the death of her ex-husband former president Nelson Mandela.
The stadium was a sea of green, black and gold as people waved ANC flags and blew vuvuzelas, singing and dancing.
A group of ANC supporters on the pitch walked around holding a cardboard coffin painted white with “RIP EFF, DA, NFP, VF, Cope and UDM” written on it.
There were also many home made posters, reading “Run Zille run”, “Run Malema run” and “Better luck next time Malema”. – Additional reporting by Sapa