Before laying wreaths at the grave, Dlamini Zuma attended a prayer service at Luthuli’s place of worship, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa, where church deacon, Blessing Mthethwa promised that the congregants would pray for her to have a successful campaign.
Dlamini Zuma was also the guest speaker at the closing of a Women’s Month celebration on Thursday.
This event was staged by KwaDukuza Municipality but it was used to campaign for her.
Her visit to KwaDukuza, in the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal, was a day before the ANC officially opens campaigning for its elective conference, in Joburg, in December.
Although Dlamini Zuma said she would only start campaigning from Friday, ANC national executive member Carl Niehaus, said she had visited the stalwart’s grave to pray for blessings.
“As in African culture, she was here to ask the ANC forefather, Chief Luthuli, for his blessings.
“It was very significant that we came to Chief Albert Luthuli’s grave to pay respect, because Chief Luthuli is the personification of what the ANC stands for in terms of its commitment to the people,” said Niehaus.
Dlamini Zuma faces a tough challenge, from deputy party president Cyril Ramaphosa, to replace Jacob Zuma as the party leader.
Mthethwa told Dlamini Zuma that the church supported her and asked her to fulfil Luthuli’s dream of building a university to be aligned to the church in his home village of Groutville, in KwaDukuza.
“Mama Dlamini Zuma, you are going to be president so that you will help us build the university.
“We are going to pray for you,” said Mthethwa.
KwaDukuza municipal mayor Ricardo Mthembu, said the ANC had every right to talk about its affairs at government events.
“The ANC is the one in charge of the country and we are tired of being scared to talk about the ANC every time we are at government events - as if we are neutral.
“We are deliberately talking about this (Dlamini Zuma’s) campaign because they (the media) are going to write that we use government events in which to campaign.
“We have the right to use these events because we liberated this country and we are not going to allow ourselves to be silenced like the apartheid government silenced black people,” he said.
Taking a swipe at Ramaphosa, Mthembu said “speaking ‘big English’ or being super rich at the expense of the poor did not qualify a person to be a leader. You can betray the struggle through becoming rich while people are suffering,” he said.
He praised Dlamini Zuma for banning public smoking and cigarette advertising when she was the health minister.
Instead of talking about her campaign, Dlamini Zuma encouraged black women and the youth to use their skills in pushing for economic transformation.