President Jacob Zuma exhorted voters to go to the ballots on May 18 at an African National Congress (ANC) rally at KwaMashu’s Rotary Sports Ground on Monday, telling the gathered crowd that to stay away would be tantamount to foregoing “the freedoms since 1994”.
Zuma appeared relaxed and confident as he compared the ongoing local government election campaign to suitors trying to woo a pretty “ntombi” (the electorate).
“So like a girl you must be careful about which man you choose and why you make that decision,” continued Zuma before suggesting that the ANC was the sharpest, best-dressed candidate around. He then went on to underline the ANC’s long history of struggle and of 17 years of governance.
This, he said, stood the party in good stead to continue governing.
“If you don’t vote then you are not fully using the freedoms that we have won and you will allow yourself to be led by other people,” said Zuma.
Later he told reporters that he was disappointed that, 17 years after the advent of democracy, residents in the township still lived in crammed apartheid housing and shacks without proper sewerage, running water and electricity.
Earlier in the morning Zuma had gone on a door-to-door visit around KwaMashu hostels, were he listened to people’s problems, which ranged from overcrowding and a lack of housing to gripes about the ANC’s nomination list and forced evictions.
KwaMashu has traditionally been a strong Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) area. It also included several wards where there has been disgruntlement over the ANC’s candidate nomination process for the elections.
Zuma addressed the matter in his speech, referencing the Pan Africanist Congress and Congress of the People and their current travails, drawing to the attention of the crowd the current state of many of those who had chosen to part ways with the ANC, the former having “disappeared into oblivion” and the latter, “whose name I don’t remember”, who currently appear to be “bewitched” — to applause from the crowd.
Zuma’s campaign trail also takes him to several similar places on Tuesday: the ANC will hold two mini-rallies, one in Sweetwaters, north of Pietermaritzburg, and in Richmond. Sweetwaters is a traditional IFP area while Richmond was the scene of bloody internecine violence between the ANC and IFP, and then in the 1990s between the ANC and the UDM.