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KwaZulu-Natal - President Jacob Zuma, who faces mounting criticism and a strong attempt to remove him as ANC leader, has turned to his ancestors for help before Mangaung.
Zuma’s family slaughtered 12 cows and burnt traditional incense at his Nkandla homestead, at a ceremony in which Zulu warriors danced, sang songs and brandished traditional weapons.
ANC leaders were nowhere to be seen, but Zuma, in leopard skin, lifted his spear and danced as thousands prayed for him to win a second term as ANC president.
Inkosi Bheki Zuma gave him a Zulu shield and spear, and told him to use the weapons to protect himself from his ANC opponents.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe is expected to challenge Zuma. The ceremony came as various provinces, including KZN, held provincial general councils to nominate leaders for Mangaung.
Zuma and his secretary-general, Gwedwe Mantashe, were overwhelmingly nominated by KZN to keep their current positions.
The ceremony at Nkandla appeared to be a repeat of what Zuma did in the run-up to the 2007 Polokwane conference, when he visited King Goodwill Zwelithini to get his blessing. The meat, cooked on a fire, was dished out to guests, who also enjoyed traditional beer.
“We are here to give our father a send-off to Mangaung. With this ceremony we are now sure he is protected and he will come back to celebrate with us,” said Nomthandazo Zuma.
Buses transported family members and relatives from around KZN. The ceremony started at the homestead of the Nxamalala clan’s Bheki Zuma, where traditional incense was burnt, a symbol of communicating with the ancestors. Zuma then led armed warriors to his old homestead, Entembeni.
The ceremony ended in his luxurious homestead, where his brother Michael and other elders continued to talk to the ancestors. Michael gave a rundown of Zuma’s credentials as a freedom fighter who had spent time in prison and in exile. Towards the end of the ceremony, Zuma’s son Edward instructed police and bodyguards to escort journalists, including those from The Mercury, out of his homestead.
“Who invited you? Who told you to come here?” he asked.
At the nomination conference in Durban, Cyril Ramaphosa was nominated for deputy president. However, this had to go to the vote because other branches nominated Motlanthe. When these nominations went into voting Ramaphosa emerged strongly.
For deputy secretary-general, party veteran Jessie Duarte was nominated. Baleka Mbete was nominated for national chairwoman, the position she currently holds.
While Premier and ANC chairman Zweli Mkhize was nominated for treasurer-general this had to go into voting as other branches nominated current treasurer-general, Mathew Phosa, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and former finance minister Trevor Manuel. - The Mercury