Port Elizabeth - The DA, a serious threat to the ANC’s political ambitions in Nelson Mandela Bay, was the prime target of President Jacob Zuma when he addressed the ruling party’s provincial Siyanqoba rally in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
“I’m really grinding them now. There is no Speaker who is going to say order',” said a content Zuma, whose middle name, Gedleyihlekisa, means “the one who smiles while grinding you”.
The rally was the ANC’s major final push in the Eastern Cape to woo voters ahead of the local elections on August 3. The ANC’s biggest challenge is the DA, which has been making inroads across the metro, where the ANC has been on a downward trend since 2011.
As Zuma spoke in Port Elizabeth, DA leader Mmusi Maimane was in Tshwane, where he accused the president of betraying the legacy of Nelson Mandela by calling on people to vote according to colour lines.
Zuma told ANC supporters and community members in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, this week that black people had to vote together to defeat the DA, which he described as a party of oppressors.
Maimane said Zuma was betraying Mandela’s memory as the late statesman had fought for a non-racial society.
“We know what he is doing. Next time he will tell people to separate according to their languages and ethnic background. He will say Tswanas on one side, Zulus on one side. That’s why we are saying that Tata’s vision is only alive in the DA,” said Maimane.
He added that if the DA took the city it would end corruption by ensuring tenders and bids were evaluated in the full glare of the public to avoid anybody being bribed to award tenders to companies.
However, Zuma dismissed the DA as a pit of snakes that had made no contribution to develop Africa’s third-largest economy. He said the party was an offshoot of the brutal apartheid regime’s National Party.
“Here’s the issue I want to focus on because we have a small memory, and so we forget. There was once an oppressive, apartheid party called the National Party that ruled the country. They called us hotheads and all sorts of derogatory names. When democracy arrived, they were booted out, but not before giving birth to an offspring called the DA,” he said.
The president told the crowd who braved the chilly weather to hear him speak at the Dan Qeqe Stadium in Zwide, that he was there to confirm the ANC would win the metro which incorporates Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch.
“Who can forget that the ANC brought us freedom? That’s why I’m saying August 3 is the big day to show the power of the ANC in the country. We want all your votes. If you don’t vote you are decreasing the ANC’s votes, meaning you are decreasing the party’s power.
“If that’s the case then we are going to deliver (basic services) slowly and transform (the economy) slowly because you gave it little power,” said Zuma.
The ANC had been in power for the past 22 years and people should not be duped by the opposition parties, which knew nothing about the liberation or governance issues, the president said.
Speaking about himself in the third person, the president characterised the DA as a clueless party that had nothing to offer the electorate, saying it only talked about Zuma, the Nkandla scandal and corruption.
He rebuked the opposition party for claiming Mandela as their own. “They lie and say Mandela is their hero. Mandela was never a hero of the National Party. It’s them who jailed him and took him to Robben Island for 27 years. They made him a prisoner.”
If the DA took over the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, the ANC’s ancestors would turn in their graves, said Zuma.
“They don’t have a plan, when they are given a platform to table their ideals, it’s Nkandla, Zuma and corruption. That’s all they have to offer.
“We are telling them who they really are. They are snakes, the children of the National Party. There is no contribution they are making to develop this country. Every day they paint the picture of this country negatively. They think a black person can’t run a country,” he said.
South Africa, according to Zuma, was on a positive trajectory economically, and the ANC was the only party capable of addressing the injustices of the past, such as racism, inequality and poverty.
“Each vote is incredibly important in the world of politics. That’s what power is. Give it to the ANC so that we can run this country efficiently. Vote, that’s power.”
* Additional reporting by Mogomotsi Magome