Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign trail in the North West has not gone well. Things that shouldn’t happen did.
On Tuesday, she was barred from laying a wreath for the Marikana victims by a group of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union members.
On Wednesday, at the Women Empowerment Summit at the Mmabatho Convention Centre in Mahikeng, an agitated young woman appeared on the stage minutes into Dlamini-Zuma’s keynote address and asked whether she would be willing “to take a minute and engage” with her.
The woman is known to be an HIV activist.
Dlamini-Zuma promised her she would after her speech, but never did. The woman was then bundled off the stage by handlers.
Just when the fracas seemed to be over, the lights went off, plunging the venue into darkness and silencing the microphones. It was explained as a technical glitch, but people were talking about sabotage.
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo had to come to the rescue, loudly interpreting her speech into Setswana.
Before the event, she was welcomed in Mmabatho by a cheering crowd of mostly women. “We are ready for Nkosazana, you are our hope,” they sang.
But not everyone was convinced by the show. “The event was state organised and sponsored,” said a woman who did not want to be named.
Dlamini-Zuma said she was “so happy to be in the province” and that government must learn to listen to the people and respond to their concerns quickly.
Dlamini-Zuma “needs feminism 101”, said another woman who attended the event.
She accused the wannabe ANC president of not recognising women who did not represent her interests. “She was silent on [femicide victim] Karabo Mokoena.
I never heard her pay homage to Winnie [Madikizela-Mandela], [ANC activist] Fatima Meer, [speaker of the National Assembly] Baleka [Mbete], [chairperson of the National Council of Provinces] Thandi Modise, not even [former public protector] Thuli Madonsela.
“Women want to see other women acknowledging them. They want someone who understands their personal politics. They want someone who is actively dismantling patriarchy, either through talk or action,” the woman said.
“She seems to be dumbing down herself because the ANC Women’s League does not compromise on ‘clever blacks’. Her constituency is boGogo Dlamini.
“She should learn from Hillary [Clinton]. She lost because she thought other women would vote for her.
This society [South Africa] is patriarchal; women will vote for a man who they think will bring the bacon home.”
Referring to the Marikana incident, the women’s league provincial secretary, Bridget Mogakoe, said Dlamini-Zuma’s visit was not dealt with correctly.
“The only observation we made was that the message was not communicated to all stakeholders. And we would like to apologise for that. When we go to an area, we have to work with stakeholders.
We can’t just enter the area. The problem is that the message was not communicated to all stakeholders. But the invitation has been extended. We will have a proper arrangement and go back again.”
Dlamini-Zuma ducked and dived when the Mail & Guardian asked her for interview. She did, however, speak to ANN7 and SABC’s Motsweding FM.