Durban - President Jacob Zuma says all the criticism levelled against him and the ANC by opposition parties is because the opposition has nothing better to offer the electorate.
He said it had become fashionable for everyone outside the ANC, including the media, to criticise the ruling party, and that he had also become a target of criticism and attacks because he headed the ANC.
“This thing of criticising the ANC started a long time ago, even during the time of (Nelson) Mandela as president. Their (the opposition’s) conduct even angered president Mandela so much so that he referred to them as Mickey Mouse parties even though now they are quick to claim him,” said Zuma, who was wearing a cap sporting the name Mandela.
All the controversy about the ANC that was dominating the media was just to sell newspapers, he said.
“The media is a business – that is why they have to have something that shocks you to sell papers.
“That is why every day there are headlines about the ANC and Zuma. They don’t even talk of (Zuma as) the president, they just talk of Zuma.”
The ANC, unlike other parties, was a caring organisation that had everyone’s interests at heart, he said.
“That is why even in exile when we caught an informer we would not kill him, but feed him even when there was little food left for us. It’s because we are a caring organisation”.
Politicians from opposition parties were campaigning just because they wanted to become members of Parliament, and not because they wanted to serve the public, he said.
“All they want is to be called honourable members, they want to go to Parliament so they can continue making noise. They are too noisy. If you vote for them, you are just helping them to become MPs.”
Instead of coming up with their own programmes, he added, all the opposition parties did was to wait for the ANC to come up with its programmes and then criticise those – without offering any solutions.
“They criticise us saying we don’t fulfil the promises we make when they are the ones making empty promises. They make all sorts of promises because they know that they are not in government and will never get to implement what they promise. The ANC was not formed by a few individuals who’d been expelled from their party, unlike other parties formed out of anger,” he said in what was thought to be a veiled reference to the EFF.
He urged ANC supporters to ensure that the ANC received an even bigger victory in the May 7 polls, saying a vote for the opposition was as good as wasted.
“How can you vote for someone who is not going to win? A bigger majority would allow us to do things that we have not been able to do. It will allow us to move even faster in implementing some programmes and passing some laws,” he said to applause.
Analysts were not spared Zuma’s sharp tongue. Many analysts were detached from reality as they always criticised the ANC and predicted its downfall, he said. These analysts did not understand the ANC and what attracted people to it, which was why the analysts were always shocked by ANC victories in elections.
“These analysts are forever on TV and forever writing that the ANC has not delivered, forgetting that they can talk because the ANC has delivered freedom of speech…
“The media is now free, now they can wake up and write that uPresident ukhwehlele kabi ningamvoteli (“the president coughed in a bad way, don’t vote for him”) and the president would keep quiet and nothing will happen, but in the days of apartheid it was a different story.”
The ANC was a movement of the people as it served the interests of the broader public while other parties were there to serve the interests of a few individuals, he said.
Earlier, Zuma had campaigned in Hammarsdale’s Mpumalanga township, in a door-to-door campaign and a blitz at a local shopping mall, where there was a near stampede as the crowds tried to get a glimpse of him.
Throngs of ANC members lined some of the streets in the township as Zuma visited a few families, canvassing votes.
One of the houses visited was that of the late ANC activist Rodger Sishi. Zuma chatted to voters about various issues which centred mainly on service delivery. At one of the houses a man told Zuma to be strong in the face of criticism and attacks, to which the president replied that he was not fazed by any criticism, saying he had been through worse during apartheid.