President Jacob Zuma on Sunday urged black people – also those who belong to parties other than the ANC – to work together or risk having the country slip out of their hands.
Speaking to a crowd in his home province in KwaZulu-Natal, he said black people who belong to other political parties needed to go back to the drawing board and work together.
“They will take the country away [from] your hands or they will use others to ask you to vote with them,” he gave a thinly veiled warning, adding they needed to use their power to vote or continue to suffer.
He, however, made no specific reference to who would take the country from of black rule, but touched on the issue of land dispossession.
“There is an issue that black people need to rethink. The Land Act of 1913…We agreed that our land was taken way back in 1913, that is not true…It was in 16 and 17 something and even more in 18 something.”
‘In Parliament you need the majority’
Zuma asked: “According to the Constitution, will we be able to fight poverty without land, when we are a people with no sense of belonging?
“Will we be able to create black industrialists without land? If you don’t register to vote you will always suffer because everything is done through legislation. And legislation is made in Parliament and in Parliament you need the majority.
He was not afraid to call on a higher hand either: “That is why I am saying, oh my God, black people you need to come together. You need to vote for another black person,” said Zuma.
“Black people are lazy to go out and vote because they do not understand the power that lies in a vote.
“Black people say, ‘I am tired’, whereas white people, even an elderly white granny, goes out to vote.”
Zuma was addressing more than 10 000 people at a drought relief Imbizo at the Melmoth sports grounds in KwaZulu-Natal.
Despite widespread calls for him to resign, Zuma received a warm welcome in his home province with thousands of ANC supporters pledging their support for him.
This was Zuma’s first public appearance since his televised apology to the nation regarding the handling of security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.
‘We black people suffer alone’
The Constitutional Court ruled last week that Zuma flouted the Constitution when he failed to comply with the public protector’s remedial action on the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
The court also ruled that the National Assembly acted against the Constitution when they chose to set aside Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report.
Zuma on Friday apologised to the nation in a televised address for the way the matter was handled.
Towards the end of his address – which was in isiZulu – Zuma told the gathering he is still the president of the country and called for calm and respect. He also told his supporters that there were people who spent sleepless nights plotting his demise.
He went on to woo voters.
“I am talking to black people now. There are things we can accomplish just by voting. A vote is very powerful… Another thing that we black people do is that we suffer alone.”
Although he did not directly say that black people should vote for the ANC, he suggested that they should come together at the ballot box.
“You can have your own political party, and I can have mine, but when it comes to voting for our issues we should combine the votes.”
He encouraged people to go out and register on Saturday and Sunday.
“A black person’s vote is very important… Voting is very important to white people too, in their own way,” he conceded.