Vendors and Zulus: ANC's fissures exposed at conference

While President Jacob Zuma opened the ANC policy conference with a packed hall, a clear indication of division within the party lurked outside. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

While President Jacob Zuma opened the ANC policy conference with a packed hall, a clear indication of division within the party lurked outside. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The vendors selling ANC merchandise outside the party's conferences are a common sight, with many relying on the sales to make a living.


At Gallagher Estate, Midrand the Mail & Guardian found that most vendors came from Zuma's home province KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. But outside, confined to the parking lot were vendors from Limpopo and other provinces, metres away from the gathering and unseen by most visitors.


The ANC Youth League's deputy secretary general of Limpopo's Uriah Mokebe Maleka branch, David Leokana, spoke about the difference in treatment they have been receiving from security personnel since Monday.


"We are having problems selling our merchandise just because we are from Limpopo. This factionalism is causing us a lot of problems.
When we arrived here yesterday, the security gave us hassles. They told us to move our things. But those ones on the other side, you see, they have no problems. Do you know why? Because they are the Zuma ones," he says. 


Expelled ANCYL president Julius Malema two weeks ago labelled Zuma a tribalist who only had the interest of those from his hometown, Nkandla, at heart.


The ANC on Friday lashed out at Malema's deputy Ronald Lamola for saying during a lecture last week that Zuma put the interests of his own people ahead of those of the broader society.


Lamola said Nkandla had been transformed into a little city since Zuma had taken office, whereas the hometowns of former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki's homesteads showed no sign of development.


Standing up to security

Leokana said the vendors stood up to security when they arrived on Monday because they also needed to make a living.


"You see when you speak Zulu, they don't give you any problems," he said.


Vendors were not the only ones who felt sidelined. A delegate from the North West who spoke to the M&G anonymously said that he stood outside from Monday up until 5.30am on Tuesday morning, waiting to be registered.


The delegate was told to leave if the registration issue did not get fixed.


Leokana said that he was aware of that issue, and claimed that it was because delegates from "Thandi Modise's group were given issues with their registration, but those from Supra were easily helped and let in".


Both groups are from one delegation representing the North West province.


Branch chairperson of Vosloorus, Gauteng, Themba Meso, along with his colleagues from KZN, experienced no issues with security. Supporters of Zuma, they said Malema was no longer the president of the youth league and that the word of the mother party was final.


They added that even though they are members of the league, they did not agree with all their policies.


"It is not as black and white as it seems, there are always grey areas. It doesn't mean that if you are part of the ANCYL you have to agree with everything they say. Part of being an ANC member means you have a choice. Debate is healthy. At the end of the day, we all belong to one family even though we have different preferences. It is not a matter of whether we want nationalisation or not. Of course we do, everyone does, it is just a matter of how the policy is implemented," said Meso.


Meso is Zulu but says that that has not helped.


"If you can prove that you have potential, then that's all that matters. Tribalism is a very bad and negative thing."


The two sets of vendors continue to sell their merchandise outside Gallagher Estate despite their support for different factions.

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