If President Cyril Ramaphosa wants votes from former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla neighbours, he must ask his predecessor to help him campaign in the village of KwaNxamalala.
This is the advice of Inkosi Bhekumuzi Zuma, a relative of the former president, and some residents of the area.
Bhekumuzi said there was a lot of hostility towards the ANC in the area since Zuma’s removal, and that the only way Ramaphosa could win over his community was to show up hand in hand with Zuma in the village.
“There is still that hostility against the ANC. But if President Ramaphosa and Zuma were to campaign together here that would put the people at ease. If the people saw them holding hands and that they get along [and] Zuma trusts Ramaphosa, the people here would also trust Ramaphosa.
“It would still be like they are voting for the ANC of Zuma. However, right now most people think Zuma does not want the ANC anymore. So in solidarity they may shun the ANC. But Zuma loves the ANC, he is still the ANC,” he added.
Bhekumuzi’s wish may not be realised, as Zuma’s participation in the ANC campaign has caused tensions in the ruling party. The Sunday Times reported recently that ANC provincial leaders sidelined Zuma after the January 8 celebrations to avoid clashes with Ramaphosa’s people. Zuma’s supporters are said to have pushed for his inclusion in the campaign after the story was published. He rejoined the campaign this week.
Zuma was recalled by the ANC national executive committee as president in February last year.
Bhekumuzi said residents in that area were still hurting because of how Zuma was removed.
“It was painful for everyone here when the president was removed the way the ANC did it. It goes without saying that that will have an impact in how people vote because they were hurt. They think it’s over, but he [Zuma] is still an ANC member,” he said. Bhekumuzi, also an ANC member, said many people had told him that they didn’t know who to vote for because Zuma was no longer the president.
He said some believed Ramaphosa was not a good person and blamed him for Zuma’s downfall.
Simphiwe Bhengu, a street vendor in KwaNxamalala, said she did not know which party to choose. “Here we have two options because only two parties are campaigning, the ANC and the IFP. For a long time we had IFP supporters. But even those who were undecided voted for the ANC because we knew and trusted the man who was leading it.”
However, she said her vote was now up for grabs. “We don’t know Ramaphosa. Yes, he looks like a nice man, but we don’t know him, so it would help if he came here.”
While the Nkandla municipality is under the control of the IFP, the ANC won Zuma’s ward. The IFP seems to have gone all out to mark its territory with more street posters than the ANC has. Only one EFF poster was seen by the Sunday Times.
Another resident, Hlengiwe Ndlovu, said she also had not made up her mind about which party to vote for, adding that it used to be easier to vote for the ANC because she loved Zuma.
Zuma’s brother, Khanya Zuma, believes his famous sibling has influence over how residents of his village vote.
He said his brother was anointed by God, like Jesus, to liberate the people of SA and that this lifelong mission should not end just because he no longer leads the ANC.
“His gift comes from above. God said ‘Whom shall I send?’ and He chose my brother. He is an incredibly gifted person — that is why leaders like [Thabo] Mbeki were jealous of him. Although Mbeki went to school and he [Zuma] did not, he always outsmarted them and was loved by the people,” he said. Khanya said Zuma could still woo traditional IFP and undecided voters if the community knew that he was not aggrieved about his removal.
“My brother never asked for political party membership when people came to him with problems. He helped them, that is why everyone loves and respects him. That is why they are still disgruntled that he was removed before the end of his term. But he is not angry; if he makes that clear here the ANC will thank him for it.” Ramaphosa campaigned in KwaZuluNatal at the weekend, but far from the dark forests of Nkandla.
– Sunday Times