KwaZulu-Natal has become familiar territory for Dlamini-Zuma’s presidential campaign.
On Thursday, she addressed a youth league event in Durban where she spoke on free education, and Zuma, believed to be one of her strongest supporters, would address the Siyabakhumbula rally in Zululand on Sunday, the ANC said on Thursday.
Siyabakhumbula is a commemoration of heroes and heroines from the ANC in the Musa Dladla Region (Richards Bay), who died during the political violence of the 1990s.
SACP leader Blade Nzimande, who has been critical of Zuma’s leadership, is expected to address an event commemorating former SACP leader Chris Hani in Durban this weekend, and ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address a rally in Port Elizabeth.
“KwaZulu-Natal is very important campaign ground because despite the divisions it will still deliver the results for the Dlamini-Zuma campaign,” said Professor Daryl Glaser head of the Department of Political Studies, Wits University.
“The campaigning is in full swing; Dlamini-Zuma has taken this to new levels,” he said.
Glaser said: “Zuma and his ex-wife need a strong launch for her campaign, and KwaZulu-Natal is going to be that launch.
“Her campaign is now out in the open. When they say woman president, that is code for Dlamini-Zuma, it’s not code for Baleka Mbete or anyone else.”
He said the Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign machine had managed to construct clever narratives around her which were more effective.
“They have positioned themselves as fighters against white monopoly capital and as champions of a woman president.
“She could also benefit from her ex-husband’s popularity in the rural areas,” said Glaser.
Political analyst Protas Madlala said the leaders were “making themselves visible” in the eyes of the voting party delegates who will attend the party’s conference.
“It a public relations exercise, they want to be seen and be more visible as the branches nominate,” he said.
Madlala said the different factions would be campaigning but would be guarded to ensure they do not fall foul of ANC rules against campaigning.
“You can expect the normal speeches, those pro-Dlamini-Zuma will be saying the ANC is ready for a female leader without naming the leader, while those pro-Cyril (Ramaphosa) will be saying the ANC needs a strong leader who will fight corruption and grow the economy,” he said.
Madlala said that while the ANC in KZN was divided, it could still be forceful by sidelining those who were against a chosen candidate.
“We are unlikely to see unity, but those who are against a chosen candidate will find themselves sidelined. There are already allegations that in some branches people are being sidelined.”