Quite at home with supporters, but is Dlamini-Zuma presidential material?
NDZ may be genuine in her concern for poverty and jobs yet has few ideas to help fix SA’s problems
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma makes no promises - not to her supporters in the ANC, her constituency in the Women's League, or to a room full of business leaders and investors.
Despite having a head start in campaigning to become the next ANC president, she has yet to explain how she would do things differently from her ex-husband, President Jacob Zuma.
I tagged along on her campaign trail for the past two weeks and found that she constantly bemoans the socio-economic situation in South Africa, citing a recent StatsSA report that more than half of South Africa's population lives in poverty.
She appears genuinely perturbed by those statistics and offers radical economic transformation as the antidote.
Dlamini-Zuma has a consistent message and tone, regardless of whom she is addressing - which sets her apart from other ANC presidential hopefuls who tailor their messages to appease different crowds.Her style of delivery differs from one event to the next: where she speaks loosely in Zulu to a cadres assembly of the women's league, she is guided by a prepared speech when talking to investors at an event at the Gibs Business School.
Her two focus areas are women's empowerment and radical economic transformation.
As the candidate fighting to become the first woman president of the ANC, her message is foremost: "Elect me because I am a woman."
But one is left wondering what kind of head of state she would be.
Judging by the past two weeks, she is more at ease addressing supporters in the women's league than talking to a room of business people.At an event in Klerksdorp she grinned and giggled when her campaign song blasted from the speakers and was sporting enough to join the choreography attached to the song.
"On your marks," the song blared while the crowd stepped right. "Get set," the crowd shouted with a squat, "we are ready for Nkosazana," it went on.
Dlamini-Zuma joined in the fun. "We are reeaddyyyyyyy," the crowd chanted in tune while she waved her hands in the air. The crowd loved it.
When she addressed the crowd, she spent more time diagnosing the economic situation in the country than spelling out her plans to fix it.
If any of the dozens of ANC Women's League supporters had come to listen to Dlamini-Zuma's plan to end poverty, all they would have left with would have been her pointing to ownership of land, access to financial institutions and skills development as the means to solve the problems plaguing South Africa.She steered clear of talking about internal ANC dynamics and commented on current affairs as little as possible.
A few days later, at an engagement at Gibs, Dlamini- Zuma was far less celebratory and conversational.
She stuck to her talking points and made it known that she was not there to appease "big business".
"Radical economic transformation should not be a threat to anyone. If we continue building an army of the unemployed, that is the threat," she said.When she spoke about the state of the economy, she blamed the financial crisis of 2008. She made no mention of the recent downgrades, or how Zuma's repeated ill-fated decisions had cost South Africans hundreds of billions of rands.
Dlamini-Zuma pointed out how cash-strapped the government was as a result of growing debt, while the private sector was flush with cash. She stopped short of explaining how she would rebuild investor confidence. When her audience pressed her on how she planned to turn around the country's economic fortunes, she could only emphasise dialogue.While corruption is clearly a major concern for voters, she does not speak much on the subject - presumably to avoid appearing as if she is attacking her backers in government, a substantial number of whom have clouds hanging over them.