The two front runners in the race for the ANC presidency took their campaign to KwaZulu-Natal – the governing party’s largest province – on Saturday.
While Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa took his campaign to the north of the province to pay respects to the Shembe Nazareth Church, his main rival, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addressed thousands of supporters at a send off rally in Durban.
Dlamini-Zuma’s supporters also used the opportunity to roast Ramaphosa over his comments in a radio interview this week that he believed President Jacob Zuma’s rape accuser, Fezeka Khuzwayo, had been raped.
ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini tore into Ramaphosa at the rally, attended by all the heavy-hitters in the Dlamini-Zuma camp, saying his own conduct was not above reproach.
“If you want to speak out about violence against women and children, talk about yourself,” Dlamini said. “You must open up. You do have the experience.”
Zikalala was likewise scathing towards Ramaphosa, saying that he was “desperate” and represented the “bourgeois class.”
Dlamini-Zuma, Zikalala said, could be trusted to implement Radical Economic Transformation (RET), the major tool for ensuring the economic inclusion of the majority.
Warning against candidates who represented “those who own the means of production,” ZIkalala said that ‘’should we elect those people, they will introduce something that is worse for Africans.’’
Addressing the rally Dlamini-Zuma thanked her supporters, saying that whether she won or not, they had made history by ensuring that a woman contested the ANC for the presidency for the first time.
“For the first time in the life of the organisation there is going to be a cadre on the ballot paper who amongst other things is a woman. You have already made history. This has never happened before,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said the status-quo, in terms of which “the inequality gap is too high” with millions of people living in squalor, could not be allowed to continue.
It was “not acceptable,” she said, that black children were not able to achieve their full potential because of being born poor.
Dlamini-Zuma again called for delegates to ensure a peaceful conference, without songs, t-shirts and regalia punting individual candidates. Despite this, thousands of t-shirts with her face on them were distributed to rally-goes as they got off the buses used to transport them to Clermont, in the western part of the city.
“This is a democratic ANC process…we are not fighting against enemies,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
In an apparent to Ramaphosa and his criticisms of the ANC, she said ANC members “must want to be part of the solution, not prophets of doom.”
The ANC, she said, would emerge from the conference and go on to win the 2019 general elections as it had “faced challenges before.”
The rally started almost five hours after the advertised 9am kickoff as organisers waited for the Sugar Ray Xulu stadium to fill up before allowing Dlamini-Zuma’s motorcade to enter.
After addressing the ANC’s Ukahlamba regional congress on Monday, Dlamini-Zuma is expected to take her campaign to Mpumalanga and Soweto before conference begins. The region went to the High Court to challenge the ruling by the ANC National Executive Committee that all regional conferences not held by November 1 be held after the national conference.
ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma told Mail and Guardian that the province would oversee the regional conference. Ukahlamba, he said, had been ready to go to conference when the deadline was imposed. The region had then gone to court.
“We were cited in the application by the region along with head office. The court rule that the regional conference should go ahead and that either head office or the province should run the conference. Head office didn’t so we are going ahead to avoid the ANC being held in contempt to court,” Zuma said.
Zuma said the conference outcome would have no impact on the results of the provincial general council meeting held in Durban last week at which the province endorsed Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate.