Saturday, April 18, 2009




April 17 2009

Many South Africans believe a Jacob Zuma presidency in the April 22 election is a foregone conclusion.

So dominant is Mr Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) that rivals seem to have resigned to merely stopping the party from winning a two-thirds parliamentary majority. The three leading parties will hold their final campaign rallies at different venues on Sunday.

Mr Zuma’s ANC, the Rev Mvume Ndadala’s Congress of the People (Cope) and Ms Hellen Zille’s Democratic Alliance (DA) have all set a Sunday date with the people. Official campaign period, however, ends on Monday, just a day after the ballot.

Whereas all the big three have gone on a publicity blitz about their final rallies, it is the ANC that surely takes the cake.

Whole page advertisements in the leading papers, posters on lamp posts and billboard are at virtually every corner of Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital, announcing the Sunday simultaneous rallies at the Coca-Cola Park (formerly Ellis Park) and the Johannesburg Stadium in the Gauteng Province.

Cope’s rally will be in Limpopo while DA will be in Western Cape.

Christened the Siyanqoba (we are winning) rally, the ANC campaign head, Mr Fikile Mbalula, says the Sunday rally will be the party’s largest ever.

Mr Mbalula reckons that South Africa’s former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki are ‘automatically’ invited to the rally.

However, the controversy that ANC invited the last time it hosted Mr Mandela at a political rally is still fresh on people’s minds. The feeling in some quarters was that the Zuma-led party was taking advantage of Mr Mandela’s frailty to gain political mileage.

As for Mr Mbeki, it would be foolhardy to imagine him drumming support for Mr Zuma, the man seen as the main reason behind his presidency’s premature end.

Live transmissions

The ANC rally, adds Mr Mbalula, is expected to attract around 120,000. And to ensure those outside Johannesburg (Gauteng) do not miss out, there will be live transmissions via satellite to South Africa’s other eight provinces.

The ubiquitous ANC rally posters have Mr Zuma picture holding a microphone in one hand and the other raised up.

And the message is: “As a nation, we have done much to improve people’s lives. But there is much that still needs to be done. Working together, we can do more. So join us in a final push to mobilise each and every South African to vote for the African National Congress.”

And many are enthusiastic about attending the rally and finally voting ANC to enable Mr Zuma ascend the presidency. “I will vote for Zuma,’’ says taxi driver James Radebe. “He is a good man,’’ he adds.

Fellow taxi driver Patrick Zula says he will vote for Mr Zuma because he is bound to win anyway. “These politicians promise us a lot of good things but once they get to office, they forget all about us. Let me give Zuma a chance and see if he will make a difference.”

Mr Moshoeshoe Monare, the group political editor of South Africa’s premier daily, The Star, also says ANC victory and Zuma presidency was imminent.

Mr Monare dismisses the belief that Cope was a threat to ANC’s stranglehold on power. On the contrary, Mr Monare says the emergence of Cope has, in a way, worked to ANC’s advantage.