Recent Constitutional Court and Pretoria High Court rulings against President Jacob Zuma are likely to have a minimal impact on the African National Congress’s performance in the August 3 local government elections, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.
Speaking to the media after addressing a May Day rally in Durban attended by about 8000 people, Mantashe said he believed voters would pay more attention to their local ward candidates than to “macro-political issues” in the upcoming municipal elections.
In March the Constitutional Court ruled Zuma had defied the Constitution and had to abide by remedial action ordered by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela over improvements to his private Nkandla homestead; and on Friday the Pretoria High Court set aside a decision by then acting Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe to drop hundreds of corruption and related charges against him in 2009.
“Elections are a function of what you do in campaigning. When you elect a ward candidate who is not subjected to the ConCourt ruling, that is not an issue. It is not a major factor because it’s a ward candidate in the locality. People have confidence in that ward candidate, they will elect him or her,” said Mantashe.
He believed such issues would have more of an impact on the party in a general election. “That is more in the macro-political situation. That is where it will affect us.”
Mantashe said ward candidates were responsible for answering to voters in their respective wards. “The issue is, what is it that we are going to do? Have we delivered? Are we having good plans? Have we good candidates? Those are major factors in local government elections.”
ANC candidates needed to present themselves to their respective communities with confidence, but not with arrogance, he said.
The rally kicked off late on Sunday after a march from Gugu Dlamini Gardens to the stadium started late. There was a festive atmosphere outside the stadium before Mantashe and the marchers arrived. Vendors outside the stadium carried out a brisk trade selling food and ANC paraphernalia.
Apart from Mantashe, Deputy Public Works Minister Jeremy Cronin also addressed the crowd.
Cronin took aim at Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, saying Malema had given himself the title of “commander-in-chief” but “I don’t think that Malema knows the front end from the back end of a gun”.
Malema made headlines when he told the Al Jazeera TV network in an interview that the EFF “will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government [ANC] through the barrel of a gun”. His statements are being investigated by the Hawks after charges were laid against him.
Cronin welcomed the decision to investigate Malema’s comments. Describing Malema as “a toy soldier”, he said: “These are treasonable statements.”
Cronin said much had been done in the past 22 years since the demise of apartheid but much still had to be done. He warned against factions and seeking office for personal gain.
He believed the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) had successfully withstood the challenges of the past few years, including the saga around former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s departure.
“We believe that Cosatu has turned the corner. It is no accident that Zwelinzima Vavi, EFF, and the DA are flirting with each other.”
He said the alliance still had a number of problems to deal with, including corruption.