Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dlamini-Zuma: They Will Come For Us One by One
2017-04-23 00:14
Paddy Harper

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma addresses ANC Youth League members and students on issues of free education at the Durban University of Technology. Picture: Siyanda Mayeza

A discussion about free education at Durban University of Technology on a week night may seem a low-key choice of time and place for a presidential campaign, but that is what happened when hundreds of ANC Youth League members packed into the university’s Cane Growers Hall to hear Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speak on Thursday.

The address by the former African Union Commission chair to the youth league forum was used by them, as well as the party’s eThekwini region, to openly endorse Dlamini-Zuma as their presidential candidate.

This early declaration of intent has followed that of the ANC Women’s League, and is likely to be continued by other KwaZulu-Natal ANC structures, which are hosting Dlamini-Zuma with increasing frequency ahead of the December elective conference.

Dlamini-Zuma, accompanied by a Presidential Protection Service security detail, was treated like a president-in-waiting by the youth league supporters on her arrival – an hour and a half after the official starting time.

Her four-vehicle convoy had slowed down in Centenary Road, outside the campus, in time for the official 16:00 start, but had pulled away as the venue was still being set up and only a handful of yellow shirts and several teams of plainclothes police had turned up.

Dressed in an ANC-issue doek and floral dress, and a long black scarf, Dlamini-Zuma took to the podium and sat smiling on a white sofa as the party’s women and youth league members sang songs calling for her to take over the governing party.

Some of the songs were culled from her ex-husband’s campaigns, with “Mama” transposed for “Zuma” for the 2017 remix.

Dlamini-Zuma – or Zuma-Dlamini, as she was repeatedly referred to by the youth league speakers – continued smiling as eThekwini secretary Bheki Ntuli welcomed her with a declaration that she had the backing of the biggest region.

eThekwini was instrumental in driving the successful campaigns for the ANC presidency by President Jacob Zuma, in 2007 and 2012, and Ntuli declared that it would go to bat for her this December.

Declaring that Zuma’s support was “here in the branches”, Ntuli said eThekwini was “clear” about its role in defending the president and taking forward the fight for rapid economic transformation at the party’s policy conference in July.

Kwazi Mshengu, chairperson of the youth league in KwaZulu-Natal, said Dlamini-Zuma was the person in whom the youth had decided to “entrust our future”.

Addressing Dlamini-Zuma as “the incoming ANC president”, Mshengu said he was not disobeying the national executive committee’s ruling against early lobbying, but was rather communicating the resolution of the recent KwaZulu-Natal youth league congress, at which the province had decided that it would lobby on her behalf when the official ANC process opened later in the year.

Dlamini-Zuma steered clear of mentioning any presidential ambitions.

Instead, she called on young people to be patriotic and become activists, and at the same time, to study hard to prepare themselves to claim their share of the economy.

Calling on the youth to be “unapologetic”, Dlamini-Zuma said they needed to assist the ANC to transform the economy, adding that young people, while being disciplined, should challenge the lack of transformation in the institutions of learning, the workplace and in the redistribution of land and resources.

She said education should not “make us feel inferior”.

“What did we fight for? To be apologetic? Let us transform this economy. It is ours.

“We are not excluding anybody, but we are not going to be excluded and keep quiet.

“We are proud Africans and we are proud black people. We have been magnanimous, and we must continue to be magnanimous, because we have said: ‘This country belongs to all who live in it,’ Dlamini-Zuma said.

She went on to say the struggle for economic liberation and transformation would be “harder than the struggle for political freedom”.

“Nothing is going to come easy. It is going to be hard ... They will come for us one by one if we are not careful,” Dlamini-Zuma concluded.

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