President Jacob Zuma yesterday intensified his re-election campaign, slaughtering cattle in an appeal to his ancestors to guide him ahead of the crucial ANC national conference in Mangaung next month, Timeslivereports.
Zuma’s leadership as ANC president is under attack. Some senior party leaders, and the ANC Youth League, want him replaced by his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe. Fears are mounting that, because the disunity in the party is so great, if Zuma is re-elected in Mangaung the ANC will split.
Journalists were prohibited from entering the Zuma homestead and an Independent Newspapers journalist was nearly arrested. When some Zuma family members realised that there were reporters in the homestead, they grabbed him, tore pages from his notebook and asked the police to throw him out.
Yesterday’s traditional event is an indication that Zuma is not certain about retaining his position in Mangaung. There was no such ceremony ahead of the 52nd ANC conference in Polokwane, at which he was elected. Then he was certain that he had the support of almost all decision-makers in the party, including Julius Malema, Zwelinzima Vavi and others who are now critical of his leadership.
Warriors clad in traditional dress and the senior Nxamalala clan traditional leaders converged at Inkosi Bhekumuzi, Zuma’s residence, where they held a traditional ceremony to appease the ancestors. Zuma did not speak at the event.
“We are appealing to you, our great grandfathers and grandmothers, to protect your son, Gedleyihlekisa. We appeal to you all, Nxamalala ancestors, to be with him, to guide and protect him against those ganging up against him,” an elder of the Nxamalala clan, Maqhinga Zuma, said.
He said it was crucial that all Zuma ancestors support Zuma in his endeavours to retain his position.
“We know that you will not forsake him. His enemies will not win.”
Inkosi Bhekumuzi Zuma said all the Zuma family will support him.
“His journey ahead is bumpy but we appeal to you, our forefathers, to be with him. Protect your son against those who want to see his demise. You are the ones who chose him among us to lead the country and you cannot forsake him in Mangaung,” Bhekuzumi said.
From Inkosi Zuma’s residence, Zuma walked with warriors for nearly 6km to his father’s house, not far from his current residential homestead. They entered a kraal where they sang traditional songs and, for the first time, Zuma danced, much to the amusement of many.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has urged delegates attending the Mangaung conference to do so with the aim of uniting the organisation.
“KwaZulu-Natal has a special responsibility to unite the ANC and make it even stronger. KwaZulu-Natal must bring direction by having highly disciplined delegates. Don’t sing songs that will make others feel less. Don’t jeer at any leader,” provincial chairman Zweli Mkhize said.