Publication: The Mercury Issued: Date: 2004-03-17 Reporter: Jeremy Michaels

Zuma Shrugs Off Controversy



The Mercury

Date 2004-03-17


Jeremy Michaels

Web Link


Deputy President Jacob Zuma shrugged off allegations of corruption which have cast a shadow over his public life, taking the ANC's election campaign to elated crowds in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday.

Zuma spent the day doing door-to-door campaigning, walking down township streets with hundreds of people behind him chanting: "Ngcuka, what has Zuma done?" - a reference to the recent Scorpions investigation into the deputy president.

In some areas, thousands of residents lined the streets waving ANC flags and chanting slogans in praise of the ruling party as Zuma's cavalcade made its way through their townships.

Zuma displayed his legendary ability to fraternise with ordinary folk, sitting in the living rooms of numerous family homes and discussing the day-to-day problems which go hand in hand with life in the townships.

In Dassenhoek township near Pinetown, Zuma led masses of ANC supporters on a walkabout yesterday afternoon along the only tarred road running through the township, branching off on to dusty side-streets to pay impromptu visits to surprised residents.

Heavily armed policemen from the Special Task Force provided back-up for Zuma's bodyguards as the deputy president did his walk-about.

Venfol Jackson, 55, welcomed Zuma into his modest home and spent at least 10 minutes chatting and laughing with the deputy president of the party he said he would be voting for.

"I'm very happy to talk to you," Jackson told Zuma, but hastily added that the 65-year age limit for men to get state pensions should be brought down.

"It must be at least 60 or 55," he said.

Earlier in the day, Zuma visited 27-year-old Nsizwa Mthembu's simple two-bedroomed house in Folweni township, South of Durban - just one of dozens of homes Zuma had entered during the course of the day.

Mthembu said he would be voting "for the ANC - it is because of the ANC that I have this new house".

Earlier, Zuma told The Mercury that his message was a simple one: "The critical thing is that the ANC has a history - it was at the forefront of the struggle to liberate South Africa. We are saying 'vote ANC' to defend that liberation."

With acknowledgements to Jeremy Michaels and The Mercury.