/ 24 April 2009

Zuma: ‘You touch the ANC, you touch a lion’

Hundreds of African National Congress supporters braved a wintry Johannesburg on Thursday night to celebrate the party’s victory.

They roared in agreement with party leader Jacob Zuma who said he ”smelt [a] 70%” victory.

”For those who do not know the ANC … you touch the ANC, you touch a lion. The sangomas said the ANC will achieve a 50% victory in Limpopo. The ANC will never go below 60% … I smell 70%,” Zuma told the crowd.

Women with babies strapped to their backs, young people in ANC T-shirts and bikers on Harley Davidsons blew vuvuzelas, cheered and whistled as Zuma addressed them outside Luthuli House in downtown Johannesburg.

He also took a swipe at opposition parties, saying they had dug their own graves by ”trying to belittle the ANC”.

”Opposition parties campaigned by trying to belittle this organisation of the people while we were busy campaigning our own way. We were innovative, fresh … different. We had policies to put across,” Zuma said.

When he ascended the stage with his daughter Duduzile, the crowd ran amok, pushing their way through a cordoned off area in a bid to get closer to their leader.

Marshals tried unsuccessfully to restrict them and formed a human chain which only just managed to restrain the crowd from getting access to the stage.

”These marshals cannot stop us now! We spent sleepless nights supporting this man and travelled from as far as the Eastern Cape to be by his side, and now they are trying to stop us from getting close to him,” yelled Zanele Gomba.

Zuma expressed his gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who had ”worked tirelessly to encourage people to vote for the ANC”, as well as the party’s alliance partners.

While Zuma told the crowd that celebrations for the ANC’s imminent victory had not yet begun, Congress of South African Trade Unions leader Zwelinzima Vavi said Thursday’s celebrations were ”after tears” celebrations.

”I want to call this gathering the after tears because we are burying the dead,” he said.

The crowd clapped, cheered and blew on their vuvuzelas when he asked for the makeshift caskets — representing the demise of opposition parties — to be brought to the stage.

The cardobard caskets were adorned with the logos of opposition parties.

Like Zuma, he took a swipe at political analysts, saying they were ”eating humble pie”.

”I was listening to analysts today [Thursday] … all that they have predicted has not happened,” he said.

Vavi said the ANC was ”smelling two-thirds”, and ridiculed opposition parties for trying to compete with the ruling party.

”Where have you seen an organisation that is 126 days old [the Congress of the People] challenging a party with 96 years? The DA is being cut into size. In the North West, we are well into the 80’s. In the Free State, they are crawling … these [are] children and we are walking,” Vavi said.

Zuma then led the crowd in Umshini Wami while senior party leaders prepared to open a magnum of champagne as fireworks lit up the Johannesburg skyline.

Senior party leaders who attended the celebrations included Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Education Minister Naledi Pandor.

Embattled former party spokesperson Carl Niehaus also joined in the celebrations while ANC Youth League president Julius Malema was said to be in Polokwane, where he had cast his vote on Wednesday. – Sapa