Emalahleni – Presidential hopeful Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was welcomed by his supporters in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, with an anti-President Jacob Zuma song on Friday afternoon.
The hundreds of supporters, donning CR17 T-shirts, remixed Ramaphosa’s presidential campaign song that says “things will change”, and added the words “U zo hamba u Zuma, ayolusa iinkomo, thula mntanam ukhalelani”. Loosely translated, it means: “Zuma will go and look after the cattle, so no need to cry”.
At first, Ramaphosa appeared oblivious to the changed lyrics when he joined the crowd in song.
He was still singing the original words that don’t mention Zuma. Later, he was seen smiling.
OPINION: Ramaphosa’s deputy president headache
Ramaphosa is on his first presidential campaign visit to the hotly-contested Mpumalanga province.
It has emerged as the second biggest ANC province ahead of the elective conference in December.
Speakers at the event referred to Ramaphosa as the president in waiting.
South African Communist Party (SACP) provincial secretary Bonakele Majuba slammed Zuma for firing SACP leader Blade Nzimande as higher education minister during his second Cabinet reshuffle in seven months.
‘Zuma should have reshuffled himself’
Majuba said Nzimande was axed, not because he was incapable of leading the higher education ministry, but because he was fighting corruption.
He said the person who reshuffled, “should have reshuffled himself”.
“This alliance was built by serious people… it can’t be compromised by an individual. President Zuma must leave as soon as possible,” Majuba said.
The Cabinet reshuffle has brought ANC-led alliance relations to an all time low.
READ: It’s Ramaphosa vs ‘Unity’ in Mpumalanga ANC’s presidential nomination battle
Congress of SA Trade Unions deputy general secretary Solly Phetoe said Ramaphosa was the only person who could save the alliance.
He also appealed to branch members to be vigilant during the nomination process of leaders to be elected in December.
He launched a thinly veiled attack on Mpumalanga premier and ANC chair David Mabuza.
“You must monitor the nomination process in the province, because we know [the] premier league is here and they do wrong things… members of the ANC who are choosing CR17 are being assaulted and threatened,” he said.
‘Our people are yearning for change’
Mabuza is said to be part of what was considered a powerful block in the ANC that defended Zuma, referred to as the “premier league”.
ANC NEC member and chief whip Jackson Mthembu started his address by shouting: “Down with the Guptas!” He said Ramaphosa had “never stolen from the public purse”.
ANC Youth League NEC member Thembi Siweya told the crowd that Ramaphosa had support beyond the ANC, which would bolster confidence in the party during the 2019 elections, which are expected to be hard fought.
“The CR17 campaign is about saving South Africa, beyond saving the ANC. Our people are yearning for change and that change and hope is in you,” Siweya said.
She said that, despite the youth league’s endorsement of presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, there were many in the league who supported Ramaphosa.