The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) has thrown its weight behind former president Jacob Zuma’s re-emergence into the spotlight and has suggested his social media interactions would be a boost for the party’s election campaign this year.
In fact, the party body has compared Zuma’s “contributions to the public discourse” to that of late former president Nelson Mandela.
Zuma marked the first of his twilight years last year by surprising his supporters – and naysayers – with an official Twitter account, posting a number of videos.
Garnering many thousands of followers within weeks, Zuma has recently taken to the platform to speak out on the contentious land question. He stated that South Africa’s problems would all be solved if the land expropriation issue was addressed.
ANCYL spokesperson Mondli Mkhize said there was nothing wrong with Zuma playing more of a role in the “Thuma Mina” election campaign and in the general political discourse in the media, as former presidents have done before him.
“There are a number of issues that all former presidents of the state can continue to lead and contribute in the movement and to the public discourse.
“If you look at former presidents such as Nelson Mandela, he would have played a similar role to the one Zuma is doing now.
“The manner in which he is reaching out to the public – that is the role that that any former president should be playing,” said Mkhize.
“And, just like Mandela, while in office he will have made many connections in business, the private sector and the public sector in other countries which he can use in dealing with social and economic issues in South Africa and help create a better life for all.
“We think the way former president Zuma is playing his role is showing that he is a true cadre and a volunteer of the African National Congress.”
Mkhize added that the former statesman’s appearance on an ANC nomination list for the 2019 general election demonstrated the continued support he enjoyed in the party.
“The leadership would then take it upon themselves to say this leader and that leader do not qualify for nomination, but at the level of nominating it demonstrates some level of confidence that branches of the ANC [are in support of him],” he said.
Meanwhile, trade union federation and alliance partner Cosatu said it would engage the ANC leadership over the role which should be played by Zuma in the ANC’s “Thuma Mina” campaign and whether he should play a role at all.
The federation’s spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the organisation would make known their opinion on the matter after the ANC’s January 8 Statement.
“We are going to have that conversation closer to the January 8 Statement and we are going to have a lekgotla afterwards so we can have this kind of conversation. For now, it is too early to say anything [about the effect of Zuma on the ANC campaign],” Pamla said.