A vote for the ANC is a vote for the Constitution, ANC President Jacob Zuma told a lethargic crowd, some of whom left during his speech, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Zuma’s address at the ANC’s manifesto launch was peppered with references to the Constitution.
This comes a few weeks after the Constitutional Court found he had acted inconsistent with the Constitution when he failed to comply with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on non-security upgrades to his Nkandla home.
“The ANC is guided by the Constitution of the Republic in all the work it does to improve the quality of life of the people,” Zuma said.
“A vote for the ANC is a vote for a united, non-racial, democratic, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa. It is a vote for the Constitution of the Republic.”
The ANC and Zuma have found themselves in a difficult position following the highest court in the land’s judgment, and calls for the president to resign have increased.
It was not yet clear what effect this would have on the party’s support during this year’s local government elections, however ANC officials were adamant that their supporters had accepted Zuma’s apology – as did the party.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said earlier on Saturday that the party was expecting more than a 100 000 people to attend its manifesto launch. This was after officials spent the week visiting areas in and around Nelson Mandela Bay mobilising people to attend.
However, the 46 000-seater stadium on Saturday was only two-thirds full.
While tens of thousands did attended the event, the ANC was not able to pull the numbers it used to, which could be said to be a low point for the party, especially at what was the official launch of its election campaign.
42 000 people in stadium
ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete told the crowd that the official record of people who had entered the stadium on Saturday was 42 000, but many had moved from their seats because of the scorching heat.
She also said buses were still arriving and taxis had been sent to the townships to pick up people.
However, thousands of ANC supporters turned down the offer of seats at the stadium, opting rather to sit outside and socialise with other ANC supporters from different provinces.
The country’s metros will be highly contested in this year’s election, with opposition parties vowing to unseat the ANC in cities such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Johannesburg and Tshwane.
Zuma on Saturday reported back on progress the ANC had made since the last local government elections held in 2011, and outlined plans for the next five years.
After arriving at the event, Zuma and his fellow top six ANC officials walked a lap around the stadium, where they received a rousing welcome as supporters clapped and cheered.
A group also chanted “Zuma, Zuma, Zuma”.
The crowd roared when the president pulled off some of his trademark dance moves.
As has been custom for Zuma since he was re-elected ANC president in 2012, he ended his address by singing Inde lendlela (Zulu for “the road is long”).
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