President Jacob Zuma urged ANC members and supporters to accept the outcome of the candidate list process, and focus their energies on election campaigning rather than wasting that energy on protesting against people who make up the candidates list.
Addressing the elections manifesto launch of the Gauteng ANC branch at FNB stadium, Zuma said that the party did everything in its power to nominate the best candidates on its list.
Zuma warned all ANC members not to react violently when provoked by other political parties and to respect the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) electoral code by reporting provocations to relevant bodies. He urged members to lead by example as “the ANC is the leader of society”.
“Our elections machinery totally depends on all our members and volunteers to be disciplined,” said Zuma.
The ANC is the only political party that is transparent with selection process, he said, and therefore members have a right to protest if they feel that ‘something is wrong’ with the process. “People say we are fighting. No… this is democracy at work,” Zuma said.
He emphasised that the province remains strategically important for the ruling party and losing control of the ‘economic hub’ of the country will be an embarrassment. “Gauteng is the home of the ANC and must remain home of the ANC,” said Zuma.
Zuma highlighted that even though the ANC was launched in Mangaung, its headquarters have always been in Gauteng, and therefore its members in the province have a huge responsibility to defend the “mighty organisation”.
“It is important to win convincingly [around the country], particularly in Gauteng. In no way can we have another party rule here,” said Zuma.
ANC supporters gathered in their numbers to listen to the ANC Gauteng branch’s elections manifesto launch at the FNB stadium on June 4, 2016. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)
The ANC president arrived at the stadium to a warm welcome from thousands of supporters with deputy Cyril Ramaphosa at a “nearly filled” FNB stadium — a different picture to December 2013, where Zuma was booed by the crowd when he attended former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
The party attracted a decent crowd to its elections manifesto launch, with deputy provincial chairperson David Makhura claiming that over 80 000 people made their way to the stadium — but the many empty seats painted a different picture.
In recent months the party has struggled to attract decent crowds, most notably its failure to fill up a 46 000 seat stadium in Port Elizabeth in April, as well as also a poor showing at Kings Park stadium in Kwazulu-Natal during a Prayer Day Rally. Adding salt to the wound was the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) boasting that they were only party able to fill up a stadium during its election manifesto launch at the 45 000 seat Orlando stadium.
Zuma used the manifesto launch as an opportunity to condemn those who destroyed property during protests. Zuma said that it is within the people’s right to protest, but violence during protests will not be tolerated and creates a negative perception of the country. “South Africa wants to be more a destination of investment and more investor friendly than ever before,” he said.
The ANC president hailed those who worked tirelessly to ensure that international rating agencies did not downgrade the country to junk status, with the City of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni receiving global ratings upgrades.
“Gauteng metros continue to shine, and the responses of international rating agencies have indicated that our metros work efficiently and effectively,” said Zuma.
Zuma said growing the economy remains a priority for the ANC, and government is working closely with business and labour to turn the economy around. He also called for the ‘de-racialisation’ of the economy and said the party in Gauteng with work closely with ‘black intellectuals’ to transform the economy.
Zuma said his party is the only one with a proper vision for this country, with realistic and achievable goals. But the ANC president struggled to keep supporters glued to their seats and many were leaving the stadium while he bragged about the party’s track record. “We are the only party with a track record from ’94; that lead people to a better life,” said Zuma.
He promised that the party will deploy mayors who know what they people want and need, and that councillors’ performance will be closely monitored and were expected to seek counsel from the communities they serve in order to enhance service delivery.
The ANC hailed the manifesto launch as a success, especially since some members openly revolved against the candidate list by marching to the ANC headquarters at Luthuli House with threats of boycotting elections or contesting as independent candidates.
The province’s leadership in recent months also appeared divided on whether to accept President Jacob Zuma’s public apology on the Nkandla matter, but has since taken a resolution to accept the apology. The ‘show’ of unity ahead of the elections on August 3 might count in its favour.