POLITICS

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Was Starting To Look Presidential -- Before It All Went Wrong In Marikana

Her campaign took a blow in the North-West in a serious miscalculation.

23/08/2017 06:03 SAST | Updated 23/08/2017 11:31 SAST

Analysis

Presidential frontrunner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is kicking it up a gear in her campaign, spearheading the drive for support in the North-West province.

The former African Union chairperson is certainly walking the walk and talking the talk in her path to be the next president of South Africa.

Under the banner of the African National Congress Women's League, which has openly endorsed Dlamini-Zuma, she arrived in the province on Tuesday, certainly looking like a force to be reckoned with.

She began at the Madibeng municipality in Britz, speaking in a closed meeting to municipal leaders about the issues plaguing the area. Outside, hundreds of ANCWL members gathered on the roadside, cheering in support of Dlamini-Zuma.

The slogan "NDZ for president" marked on their shirts.

Pontsho Mabena

But it was her entourage that spoke to her increasing stature as a presidential frontrunner.

Dlamini-Zuma was escorted from the municipality by at least eight blue-light vehicles, behind which at least a dozen cars carrying ANCWL officials followed.

Her supporters were bussed between different venues where she would be appearing. They were ferried in at least two dozen minibus taxis.

Gutsy appearance at royal household
Her second visit was gutsy: a courtesy appearance at the royal house of Bapo Ba Mogale.

In the past, Dlamini-Zuma came under criticism from royal households, when Xhosa King Mpendulo Zwelonke Sigcawu told her the country was not ready for a woman president. She was at Sigcawu's Nqadu Great Place in Willowvale near Mthatha in the Eastern Cape when the king shunned her with his remarks.

But she was welcomed with open arms in the North-West.

CEO of Bapo Ba Mogale Investments Lehlohonolo Nthontho said they supported her policies on radical economic transformation and land redistribution.

Adorned in her usual 'doek' and smart two-piece suit, Dlamini-Zuma went on to speak to a small congregation of traditional leaders, members of the royal family and officials from the ANCWL.

She reverted to her usual rhetoric on land redistribution, economic transformation, industrialization and the empowerment of the youth and women.

"If we are to eradicate poverty, we cannot do it without ensuring women are empowered. We also, in this month, say we are going to continue the struggle to ensure that women are safe. It is a struggle that we have to fight all together, men and women," she said.

"We are also very mindful of the fact that 23 years into our democracy, we have a government of the ANC which has political power, but we cannot say we have economic power. We are admitting that we don't have economic power."

It is the same themes she highlighted back in May when campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal, and has continued with the same vocabulary as a basis for her campaign throughout.

No mention was made of problems currently plaguing the ANC like state capture or the outcome of the vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

Always smiling in front of her supporters, and strong in her demeanor, Dlamini-Zuma ended her visit at the royal household by addressing crowds of supporters before heading to Marikana, where she was due to lay a wreath in commemoration of fallen miners from the area.

Pontsho Mabena

That is where her campaign was dealt a blow.

Dlamini-Zuma and her entourage had to make a quick getaway when a small group of Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) members blocked them from initiating their ceremony, hurling insults and gesturing for the group to leave.

Marikana activist Napoleon Webster said they could not allow Dlamini-Zuma to exploit the tragedy.

"She is trying to use our pain to pave her way to the presidency, just like Cyril Ramaphosa did," he said.

"We cannot allow her to come her and use us when it's convenient for her."

Dlamini-Zuma did not even exit her vehicle before the entourage sped off, five minutes after arriving at the site.

She was due to end her day of campaigning at the University of the North West, Mafikeng Campus, where she would speak on the role of education in influencing radical economic transformation.