Know your candidate: Dlamini-Zuma beats the RET drum

15 December 2017 - 14:30 By Nathi Olifant And Matthew Savides

TimesLIVE looks back at Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s political career as the ANC gathers in Gauteng to elect its new leader. Credit: SABC News

If you were to give Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's campaign for ANC president a theme‚ nothing other than "radical economic transformation" would suffice. This and the equal distribution of wealth is the drum that she has been banging.

If you were to give Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's campaign for ANC president a theme‚ nothing other than "radical economic transformation" would suffice. This and the equal distribution of wealth is the drum that she has been banging.

Whether speaking to the funeral industry‚ at cadres forums‚ at rallies‚ in TV interviews‚ "RET" has been her clarion call - even if the calls have been vague and specifics largely absent.

Without it‚ she has warned‚ there will be a dire consequence: revolt.

"Radical economic transformation is about expanding our economy in a way that more people participate in it‚ but it is also to transform the structure of our economy‚ the management‚ the system‚ the ownership‚" The New Age quoted Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) as saying.

And she told ANN7 last month: “There will be time when people will revolt‚ and if they revolt we don’t know what will happen but all I know is that nobody will escape. So it is very important that we address this challenge before it gets out of hand."

This theme is from the bowels of the ANC's KwaZulu-Natal leadership‚ from whom she has garnered her greatest support. Here‚ in her home province‚ she enjoys the support of the party's leagues and comprehensively beat rival deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa in terms of branch nominations (even if it wasn't by the margin she might have hoped for)‚ particularly in Underberg‚ home to the Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma Local Municipality.

But her one-dimensional approach on the campaign trial has been to her detriment‚ not only because it is the same song sung by under fire President Jacob Zuma. She hasn't been able to get the numbers across all ANC regions and provinces to guarantee her victory at this weekend's conference. Nonetheless‚ the numbers do indicate she could scrape home thanks to the support from her home province.

Looking beyond the Pietermarizburg-born 68-year-old's policy-driven campaign‚ it appears that NDZ is more of a hardliner than Zuma‚ the man she hopes to succeed as ANC leader. Even though their policies are markedly similar‚ the former African Union chair and government minister has stressed she is more than the president's ex.

“I have again recently personally experienced how dehumanising it is when one is not treated as a full person in your own right but is just simply described as someone else’s former wife‚” Dlamini Zuma said at an event in Phoenix‚ Durban‚ in October.

Certainly‚ on the surface‚ there are stark differences. While journalists ensure they are several hours late for events at which Zuma is to speak because he is seldom on time‚ NDZ is a stickler for running on schedule. She once chastised ANC KZN regional officials for not being ready for the start of a rally.

And in contrast to Zuma's "umshini wami" refrain‚ she doesn't like songs that glorify weapons. She has a stern authority and isn't the populist that her husband clearly is.

Despite this‚ it's clear that Zuma is in her corner. He told a prayer service in Bulwer in March‚ when he gave his first open endorsement of Dlamini-Zuma for ANC president: "She is bold and you can't fool her. She is someone you can trust."

Now it just stands to question whether this endorsement will help or harm her fight to become leader of the ANC.


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