Durban - ANC and DA heavyweights descended on KwaZulu-Natal this weekend in an unprecedented blitz to fight for votes – and save face – before the May 7 elections.
Facing tough elections and hard questions, the ANC seemed determined to repair damage caused by Nkandlagate and wheeled out the big guns: President Jacob Zuma,party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, national chairwoman Baleka Mbete, party election head Malusi Gigaba, treasurer Zweli Mkhize and deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. They were sent to various parts of the province.
Not to be outdone, DA leader Helen Zille on Saturday led a delegation which included party spokeswoman on police Diane Kohler-Barnard through Phoenix, Welbedacht and Wentworth.
On Saturday Mbete was in Newcastle campaigning at at least five venues and today will be in Bergville. Mkhize was in the Maputaland region. Duarte was in Howick. All of them campaigning door to door.
Zuma is due to do the same today as well as hold mini-rallies in Marrianhill, Hammarsdale and Wentworth. He will also officially open the R25 billion mixed-use development in Cornubia.
Meanwhile, DA youth leader Mbali Ntuli is to address the drug crisis at Careline Crisis Centre in Durban.
Yesterday Zille, dressed in her party’s blue colours, spent time in Welbedacht’s “Silver City” transit camp and engaged in some electioneering. The settlement has scores of shacks built with corrugated iron sheets and illegally connected wires snake through it.
“It is abysmal that you living in this home for five years with no electricity,” Zille told a family.
Later, in a speech delivered in Zulu, Xhosa and English, Zille hailed the DA’s Zuma SMS court victory as a fair judgment.
“But why is it only the DA going to court? When will Zuma appear in court to answer for Nkandla?”
She told the residents every transit camp under the DA was electrified. “I see that you have electricity, but in a way that is dangerous for children. No wonder three children have already been electrocuted in this area.
“You want electricity – people must vote for blue, blue, blue… blue is not white, black or Indian. Blue is everyone,” she said.
Zille didn’t waste the opportunity to take a swipe at Zuma on the Nkandla issue. “While you’re living in squalor, the president spent R246 million on Nkandla so that his cattle, pigs and chickens could live like kings.”
At an ANC session organised by the Progressive Professionals Forum in uMhlanga on Friday, Gigaba leapt to Zuma’s defence, saying the president should be judged on his work in government alone.
Gigaba, a top national executive member and the minister of public enterprises, said anger at corruption and maladministration, which included the inflation of prices for the Nkandla upgrades, was understandable and the need for action was vital.
“This is the reason the government has owned up and instructed the Special Investigating Unit to investigate thoroughly,” he said.
Gigaba said Zuma’s record of governance was unsurpassed.
“Those who own the media advance the narrative that Zuma is a weak leader, that he is corrupt and can’t be trusted, but what is his record of performance?
“Under Zuma we have good policies – even our critics agree. They say they can implement our policies better, but don’t say they can develop better plans and policies. This all happened under Zuma’s presidency.”
“Is he a weak leader? I doubt it. Forget the fact that he can’t speak English with a twang. Just sit down and assess the man.
“Our assessment of the guy should be based on his record like firing ministers based on performance or lack thereof. I hope nobody tweets this,” he said, gesturing to his spin-doctor Mayihlome Tshwete.
Gigaba said few gave credit to Zuma for inheriting an economy that had just shed a million jobs.
Gigaba expressed unhappiness that ministers like him never scored an A or A+ rating when assessed by newspapers.
“But the day I say SAA or SAA Express should be privatised I will get an A. Have you ever wondered why ministers like (Gugile) Nkwinti or (Tina) Joemat-Petersson don’t get an A, because minister Nkwinti talks about land reform which touches raw nerves. Minister Joemat-Petersson wants changes in the fisheries department,” he said.
Gigaba said people must never make the mistake of thinking the DA does not have policies.
“The DA has told everyone about what’s wrong about this country, but they have not told you about their policies, why? Because you will know the truth and know better. Ask the people of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha plagued by poverty, unemployment and race-based employment opportunities. This is aided by a few of their sycophants who want the status quo to remain,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa said on Friday the ANC had not been “sleeping on the job” since taking power.
Speaking at a meeting to welcome 40 new white ANC members in Amanzimtoti on Friday, Ramaphosa said: “One thing we can say with certainty is that the ANC in the past 20 years has … been working to improve the lives of all South Africans.
“In that regard, we have a good story to tell.”
The party had done “well” in the provision of each of the 12 components outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) – housing, nutrition, water, sanitation, electricity, transport, education, safety, health care, employment, recreation and creating a clean environment.
Ramaphosa also announced the government’s plans to invest massively in infrastructure projects, which would boost employment.
It wanted to ensure that 70 percent of goods and services procured were locally-manufactured.
While development had stalled in some parts of the world, the same could not be said about South Africa.
“And in the next five years we’re going to do more.
“The NDP would be implemented vigorously over the next five years – and beyond.
“The plan takes us to 2030, and the plan says by 2030 we will have created 11 million jobs. Jobs are not easy to create, but we will create them. We will reduce unemployment to 6 percent,” Ramaphosa said.