Former South African president Nelson Mandela has pledged his support for the African National Congres in the coming watershed elections.
On Sunday, scores of African National Congress supporters braved heavy downpours in the Eastern Cape’s Idutywa and thronged into the rural town’s half-sheltered taxi rank to chant, dance and listen to the organisation’s President, Jacob Zuma, and former President Mandela.
In an historic show of confidence in the ANC – in the run-up to the 2009 elections – reports say Mandela, arrived at the rally to get a tumultuous welcome from the crowds and chanted ‘i will remain ANC”. Mandela’s appearance was the first at a political event in some years since he retired from active politics.
In his address, Zuma who described Mandela as “a legend” and “a living ANC ancestor,” reflected on an earlier meeting he held with Mandela before the rally.
Zuma is quoted as saying: “When we met earlier, Madiba (Nelson Mandela) said to me he wished to be present in just one ANC rally to greet the people and show everyone that he is still with us. He encouraged us to campaign in these elections in a dignified manner and not talk about other people except the ANC and its policies. They (opposition parties) have nothing else to talk about other than the ANC.”
“Mandela is here today to say he will ‘die in the ANC’. He was the number 10th president, Zizi (Thabo Mbeki) number 11th and I am number 12th. We are blessed that he became South Africa’s first democratically elected president of South Africa.
Zuma said the ANC was committed to ensuring a better quality of life for all South Africans. He told the crowds: “You have the power, so use it. You have the power to vote in leaders to govern and the power to recall them when they fail you. When you cast your vote in elections, you demonstrate your power. If a councillor does not deliver, pass a vote of no confidence. This goes for the President of the Republic, Cabinet Minister, Premier, MEC and Mayor.”
Zuma said 22 April was set as an election date and the ANC was ready for the polls. He said the Idutywa – the birthplace of the late ANC and SACP stalwart Govan Mbeki – was the “home of the ANC”.