News Africa

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Zuma in poll pledge to shift power from white to black

Aislinn Laing in Soweto

Published 05/05/2014 | 02:30

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Supporters of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) cheer during their party's final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ANC in power.
Supporters of South Africa's President Jacob Zuma's ruling African National Congress (ANC) cheer during their party's final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ANC in power.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. The country goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ANC in power.
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma greets supporters of his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party during their final election rally in Soweto, May 4, 2014. The country goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ANC in power.
Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Party (EFF) wait for his arrival during their party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the  ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power.
Supporters of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Party (EFF) wait for his arrival during their party's final election rally in Pretoria, May 4, 2014. South Africa goes to the polls on Wednesday in elections which are expected to keep the ruling Afican National Congress (ANC) of President Jacob Zuma in power.

Jacob Zuma has promised to speed up the shift of power from white to black South Africans as the ruling Africa National Congress party began its final push to remain in power for a fifth term ahead of this week's elections.

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Jacob Zuma has promised to speed up the shift of power from white to black South Africans as the ruling Africa National Congress party began its final push to remain in power for a fifth term ahead of this week's elections.

Addressing concerns that many black South Africans still live in poverty 20 years after the end of apartheid, Mr Zuma said it would be a "key priority" to give them control of more businesses and accelerate land reform. The 72-year-old president made his speech at the ANC's final rally at Soweto's Soccer City before national and provincial elections on Wednesday.

The latest polls suggest the ANC will enjoy a fifth resounding victory, slipping just two percentage points from the 65pc share of the vote it won in 2009.

But Mr Zuma's mumbled, lacklustre speech, coupled with his unpopularity after a corruption scandal late last year, prompted almost half of the estimated 95,000 people who originally filled the stadium to leave before he finished. The spectacle of ANC supporters abandoning their seats and streaming towards the exits as they were addressed by the party president was a further embarrassment after Mr Zuma was booed in front of world leaders during Nelson Mandela's memorial service at the same venue in December.

Provincial stewards had reportedly been told to check all those attending the event and monitor it carefully to ensure there was no repetition of the booing. Instead people appeared to vote with their feet after hours of entertainment from popular musicians and ANC bigwigs.

Keith Khoza, the ANC's spokesman, insisted their departure was merely down to the heat and the early starts that many had endured to travel to the rally, named Siyanqoba, meaning "conquer" in Zulu. But a party donor who was sitting in the presidential box said it was a mistake for the populist president, famed for his ability to rouse a crowd by singing and dancing, to deliver a detailed manifesto statement.

"They should have cut it when they realised people were leaving," he said. "Zuma has some terrible advisors."

He said the disclosure that €17m of taxpayers' money had been spent on refurbishments to the president's private estate in Nkandla, KwaZulu Natal, had cost him support even among party stalwarts.

"We support the ANC and we will vote for them because they must stay in power but we don't support Zuma," he said. "Nkandlagate" as it has become known, has also been cited as a reason why some former ANC voters will abandon the party at this election, coupled with frustration at the slow pace of change and endemic corruption.

The latest Ipsos poll cited in the South African Sunday papers put the ANC's closest rival, the Democratic Alliance, at 23pc, up from 16pc at the last elections. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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