Zuma reminds voters of apartheid oppression
AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma used the party's final campaign rally yesterday to remind black voters of the oppression they suffered under apartheid, an indication that the party may be wary of what has been described as one of its toughest elections.
The apartheid card has been little used by the ANC outside of its youth league, and comes as Mr Zuma attempts to thwart the rise of the Democratic Alliance (DA), which has targeted new black voters in the campaign for Wednesday's local government elections.
The ANC is also facing a credibility crisis among some black voters, some of whom are expected to stay away in protest at its internal selection process. A poor turnout would push up the percentage of minority votes in Wednesday's elections and reduce the ANC's chances of doing well.
"This election is very important. It gives us an opportunity to strengthen the ANC so that even those who want to return to apartheid . don't get a chance to play with our people," said Mr Zuma.
Addressing the same rally, attended by about 90000 people at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema labelled the DA a party for whites where blacks did not belong.
Mr Zuma reminded the crowd of the apartheid system and the introduction of Bantu education as an "instrument to ensure perpetual subjugation" of Africans.
He quoted apartheid prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd's defence of the introduction of Bantu education. "Lest we forget, he said: 'There is no place for (the Bantu) in the European community above the level of certain forms of labour.... What is the use of teaching the Bantu child mathematics when it cannot use it in practice? That is quite absurd. Education must train people in accordance with their opportunities in life, according to the sphere in which they live'."
Mr Zuma went on to quote apartheid deputy minister of Bantu education Punt Janson's 1974 defence of the imposition of Afrikaans. "I have not consulted the African people on the language issue and I'm not going to. An African might find that 'the big boss' only spoke Afrikaans or only spoke English. It would be to his advantage to know both languages."
Political analyst Adam Habib said the biggest asset in the ANC's arsenal was that it was a party of liberation. The fact that Mr Zuma used that significantly in his speech yesterday suggested that the ANC was concerned by the "contested nature of these elections".
"What they are concerned about is that many people may not turn out to vote because they are angry because of poor service delivery."
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