Zuma drums up support in Mandela Bay

Jacob Zuma is blessed by local pastors and priests during a campaign event at the Interfellowship Church in Durban in March this year. (Rajesh Jantilal, AFP)

Jacob Zuma is blessed by local pastors and priests during a campaign event at the Interfellowship Church in Durban in March this year. (Rajesh Jantilal, AFP)

Insults from “angry people” would not detract him and the ANC from improving the lives of people, President Jacob Zuma told Uitenhage commuters.

He added, however, that this took time, like growing maize.

On his first of four days of campaigning in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, which spans Port Elizabeth, Despatch and Uitenhage, he did walkabouts to drum up support for the party’s manifesto launch on Saturday.

Many in the crowd wore yellow campaign T-shirts with Zuma’s face on it, distributed at the scene.

“Maize, you don’t plant it now and it grows, but it is a process. This is the way things happen in the country. It takes time for us to change the situation for the better,” Zuma told a crowd of between 100 and 200 people from the back of a small ANC-branded campaign truck, parked in the taxi rank near a makeshift urinal used by taxi commuters when the nearby municipal toilets are blocked.

The council often takes weeks to fix this.

The crowd, standing in the hot midday sun, cheered and applauded when Zuma, who had an umbrella held over his head, said: “The ANC belongs to the people, even if you hate it, or if you like it, it belongs to the people.”

He briefly outlined some of the struggle history that the Nelson Mandela Bay metro is steeped in, and said the ANC was “created for the people of South Africa when the colonists took this country. People from all walks and races got together to form it. There was no other organisation that was fighting for liberation.”

He said the ANC had faced different kinds of challenges over time, one of which was the formation of Umkhonto weSizwe. One of the first cells was formed in New Brighton in Port Elizabeth.

He said MK fought for the people’s freedom, and some died in the fight.

Zuma said it would take time to undo the damage that was done, but the party was “working hard to change the lives of our people”, despite some trying to insult the party.

He said the party would launch its manifesto on Saturday. “Once the ANC has spoken, no one speaks after.”

At the end of the speech, some in his audience members called for him to sing his trademark song of defiance, Umshini Wami, and he obliged.

Zuma has desisted from singing the song for a long time, but of late it has resounded at ANC gatherings and government rallies addressed by him.

A taxi driver, Welcome Matanzima, was impressed by the president and said he would vote ANC.

“My father is ANC, my mother is ANC, so that is why I like the ANC.”

A taxi tout, Mbuyisele Kopo, said he was not planning to vote because of politicians’ “empty promises”.

He didn’t like Zuma.

“That money that he built his house there [in Nkandla], he should give it to us to get houses and jobs here in the Eastern Cape,” he said. People in the Eastern Cape felt that only the people in KwaZulu-Natal were getting homes and jobs, he said.

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