Johannesburg - In the clearest support for the ANC to date, former president Jacob Zuma called on black people to unite behind the ruling party to ensure it got a two-thirds majority in the upcoming national elections, which he described as a make-or-break event that would decide their fate.
Addressing his supporters outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday, Zuma called for the poor and landless people, the majority of whom “are black African”, to unite.
He urged those who were upset about certain things not to punish the ANC. He said people should follow the ANC and not whoever is in a leadership position at any given time. “I joined the ANC, the party did not join me,” he said in isiZulu.
He said everyone should go out and canvass votes for the party, adding that he would also be going all out to campaign for the party he led until December last year, when President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as the new leader.
On Friday, Zuma appeared before Judge Isaac Madondo, who postponed the matter against him and French arms company Thales to May 20, 2019, for the National Prosecuting Authority to file its responding affidavit against the pair’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Zuma’s call on Friday is yet another clear message that dispels talk of the formation of a new party. During Zuma’s recall by the ANC as the president of the country earlier this year, various formations, including religious leaders, rallied behind him while some even hinted at the formation of a new political party.
But Zuma distanced himself from such calls at his homecoming event held in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal. He referred to his long history in the ANC and said those who claimed he would leave the party didn’t really know him.
His call for people to vote for the ANC is confirmation that he isn’t about to dump his political home. And some of his supporters are now saying they never expected him to dump the ANC despite the anger among some of his backers over the governing party removing him.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga, however, said he doubted whether anyone would vote for the ANC on the basis of Zuma’s public pronouncements. “No one knows if his support (for the ANC) is whole-hearted,” he said.
Mathekga said Zuma was still offensive to some people and that this was compounded by his featuring prominently in the proceedings of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and the fraud and corruption charges he is facing.
According to the senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape’s Centre for Humanities Research, it is not “okay” for the ANC to have Zuma campaigning for it.
But Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) KwaZulu-Natal chairperson Themba Mavundla told Independent Media on Saturday that they had never expected Zuma to abandon the ANC despite his being dumped unceremoniously in February.
”We didn’t expect it from him. He is an Umkhonto we Sizwe member and took the oath. He can’t do that (leave the ANC),” Mavundla said.
He said Zuma could be unhappy with many things, including individuals, but not the ANC.
“We expected him to do what he did,” said Mavundla about Zuma pleading with South Africans to vote for the ANC. The MKMVA supported Zuma throughout his nine-year presidency of the country and his fraud and corruption trial. Other Zuma backers such as the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA (Nafupa-SA) also did not expect him to leave the ANC."
Nafupa-SA secretary-general Nkosentsha Shezi said Zuma would make a terrible leader outside of the ANC. “He has spent all his life in the ANC.”
According to Shezi, his organisation supported Zuma as a matter of principle and not to benefit from his rule.
Shezi said it would have been senseless to support Zuma when he was in government and then dump him after he was ousted just because there was a belief that they were benefiting from his rule.