/ 10 May 2024

Mixed reaction to Gwede Mantashe during ANC’s KZN campaigning

Anc Election Campaign 3804 Dv
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe leading the party's campaigning in Richards Bay. Photo by Delwyn Verasamy

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe had a door shut in his face when he campaigned in Richards Bay on Thursday. 

One person told Mantashe that her family was affiliated with Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party and closed her door as Mantashe approached her.

The ANC chairperson had been campaigning in northern KwaZulu-Natal since Tuesday before taking his campaign to Richards Bay. 

The ANC has been under pressure to up its game in KwaZulu-Natal after Zuma announced in December that he would endorse the MK party. 

Since then, polls have indicated that the MK party would take a chunk of the ANC’s voter share in the province. In the 2019 election, the party received 55.47%, dropping from the 65.31% it had received in the 2014 elections in KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma was credited for the ANC’s result in 2014. 

An Ipsos poll has projected that the ANC will receive 40% of the national vote. This led to a decision by the party to deploy its entire top leadership in the national executive committee to KwaZulu-Natal. 

Former ANC president Thabo Mbeki and other prominent party veterans are also expected to make an appearance in the province this weekend. 

Mantashe was optimistic that the party would retain its majority, but he received a mixed reaction in KwaZulu-Natal this week. 

Known to work on his own, Mantashe continued with this tradition this week, campaigning with only ANC volunteers and one police van as part of his security. 

During his walkabout in Richards Bay, he faced some undecided voters. Ipsos projects that 35% of the electorate are undecided. 

Mpumelele Ndlela, who is unemployed, said she was still debating why she should vote for the ANC again. 

“It’s been eight years since I’ve been working, I’m disappointed. I’m going to vote but I’m not going to promise that the secret vote will be for the ANC. I have always voted for the ANC but I’m still reviewing and I’m not going to be forced to vote for it,” she said. 

Another resident, Sibonelo Ngubane, told Mantashe he wanted money, a wife and tenders before agreeing to vote for the ANC, adding that he wanted to live like a “fat cat”.

“I can promise that I’m going to vote for you but you won’t see me. The money must come first before everything,” he said. “I also want a tender because I cut grass, I supply and I do anything. I also want a volunteer who will give birth to a boy child.”

Other residents welcomed Mantashe and promised him that despite the difficulties they have faced under the ANC, they would still vote for it.

One resident said she would vote for the ANC because she had seen what the party had done in the last 30 years. She said she was reluctant to vote for opposition parties who had no track record in government.

“They [opposition parties] come to us and lie. We know there’s nothing they will do for us. We will vote for the ANC because we know what they can give us.”

Mantashe said that although the ANC had made mistakes, the lives of people had changed since 1994.

“The children are getting grants, they go to school for free, they are being fed at school and they go to university for free,” he said.

“We admit that we have made mistakes. In the last 30 years, we didn’t just lead but we have been learning, we accumulated knowledge and experience. We want to use that and that’s why we are saying vote for the ANC.”