15/10/2017 07:55 SAST | Updated 15/10/2017 21:30 SAST

Limpopo Welcomes Dlamini-Zuma With Open Arms

NDZ drew hundreds of supporters in the province during her campaign trail.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
The welcome she received may hint that the allegiance of the party's branch members in the province may not be fully behind the deputy president.

Presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is encroaching on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa's territory in Limpopo by drawing hundreds of supporters during her weekend campaign in the province.

Although her message was predictable, the former African Union Commission chairperson managed to entice the applause of ANC branch members and leaders who attended the party's Cadres' Forum in the province's biggest region, Mopani, on Saturday afternoon.

The welcome she received may hint that the allegiance of the party's branch members in the province may not be fully behind the deputy president.

Supporters were bused to a community hall in Giyani on Saturday, some arriving three hours before the presidential candidate was set to speak. The supporter base, constituting mostly women, filled the hall -- some even having to stand throughout the event.

NDZ - Cardes Forum, Giyani

Before she could arrive, struggle songs rang throughout the venue while a group of supporters assembled at the gates awaiting her convoy, singing Dlamini-Zuma's campaign anthem: "We are ready for Nkosazana".

Almost an hour after the scheduled start to the event, Dlamini-Zuma arrived in a convoy of at least half-a-dozen vehicles, waving to her supporters as she entered the hall. The crowd erupted into song and dance, cheering as she took to the stage.

She sat alongside ANC Women's League deputy president Sefora Ntombela and a host of provincial leaders from the party's youth and women's leagues.

Speakers from each of the leagues paid tribute to Dlamini-Zuma ahead of her introduction, while she sat centre-stage raising her fists every time the words "viva" or "amandla" were uttered.

When she spoke, she made it clear who she was targeting in the audience.

"Let me greet the owners of the conference [ANC national conference] -- the branches," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma started off by preaching unity in the ANC before reverting back to her original campaign message, radical economic transformation (RET).

"We are saying for us, unity is very important. Because after the conference, the hard work will start, not only of strengthening our structures, but also for campaigning for 2019," she said.

"There is a lot of noise about RET, some people don't like it, but the truth of the matter is that the status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable."

She went on to outline, like she has before, how RET can be achieved. This, according to her, entails industrialisation, free education, land distribution, and change in the ownership of the economy.

"RET is not a slogan that is used by a particular individual, it is a decision of the ANC. It is our responsibility to implement it. We must also look at how this RET can unfold. For RET we need to look at what do we have as South Africa and how can we use what we have," she said.

During her speech, a constant hum of chatter could be heard from the crowd.

After she finished speaking, she shook hands with delegates on the stage and went back to her seat. As she sat, most of the audience members who were seated towards the rear of the hall walked out the venue, eagerly queuing up for the free food made available in the lobby.

Her Limpopo campaign is set to continue on Sunday as she presents a memorial lecture in Mohlarekoma.

As early as last year, the ANC's Limpopo executive committee hinted that it was throwing its weight behind Ramaphosa. He has since gained the support of sectors of the ANC Women's League and union leaders in the province.