ANC's popularity still strong

Despite corruption allegations against Jacob Zuma, poor South Africans have not given up on Mandela's party

If the all-powerful ANC is to be humbled at the ballot box when South Africa votes on Wednesday, it ought to be a message sent from somewhere like the Elias Motsoaledi settlement.

A slum, named after a hero of the apartheid struggle, it is cast in the shadow of Soweto's iconic chimneys.

The 50,000 inhabitants live on unpaved streets of broken promises.

The new South Africa of public housing, just like the electricity pylons, has passed by these tin shacks.

Its toilet blocks do not flush, there is no running water and no school.

Yet there is an inconvenient truth for those hoping that Jacob Zuma's certain victory will be soured by a heavily reduced majority.

If there is a protest vote coming that will stop the African National Congress winning the two-thirds majority it craves in two days' time, it's not coming from Elias Motsoaledi.

The signs of dissent may be everywhere, with rivals to the ANC smiling down from myriad posters. Last week, hundreds of residents marched on their local councillor's office in response to rumours that their land – to which they hold no title – had been sold out from under them.

However, there are more opposition posters than opposition voters here.

For residents like Soloman Rampai the equation remains simple: "The people are the ANC. The ANC will always win the elections."

Unemployed, like most of his neighbours, he has plenty of time to think, and sounds even more tired of the corruption saga that has pursued the ANC leader than does the 67-year-old poltician himself.

"They have spent hundreds of millions of rand and they found him guilt of nothing," he says. "There is too much concentration on corruption."

Opinion polls suggest the ANC may fall narrowly short of the margin of victory that would allow it to change the constitution at will. Two recent surveys gave the party 65 and 60 per cent of the vote respectively.

But the same polls illuminate something that much of the outside world fails to see – most ordinary people are not overly concerned with the endless corruption charges.

Far from being an electoral liability for the ANC, the Zulu showman is recognised as the "Presidentertainer" as one popular newspaper dubbed him this weekend.

The man himself emphasised his own relaxed approach to the final steps on his tortured journey to State House by asking "How can I be stressed? There is no word for stress in Zulu."

"They say if you can't beat them, join them," says 30-year-old Xolisa Gogwana, a builder by trade but a tourist guide by necessity.

"You can't beat the ANC, so..."

As for his view of the country's president in waiting: "Zuma's part entertainer, part president," he adds with a smile.

The streetfighter who won his titanic struggle with predecessor Thabo Mbeki, despite seven years of courtroom battles, is viewed with more affection than the man he defeated.

In the local Shebeen, or drinking den, Pina Gordon echoes the sentiments of many when he says the former deputy president must get his chance at last. "We must give him a year. They have promised us many things and after a year we will see." Past failures, he says, "can't be blamed on the ANC".

That is exactly what Patrick Ntlali is trying to do though. Sitting in the back of an antique red Nissan he is campaigning in the slum for the minority United Democratic Movement.

"It's hard work," he admits. "These [ANC] people have a long time in power, they have all the money. If you get deeper and ask these people what the ANC has done for them? They follow them just for the money."

Money has certainly played a part in the campaign with the breakaway Congress of the People (Cope) spurring the ANC to spend R200m (£15m) on this campaign.

Not everyone is convinced.

Neliswa Chwayi, a mother of two, says she isn't voting for anyone. Fifteen years after the end of apartheid there is one tap per street and one metal pit toilet per house where she lives. Too many promises have been broken, she says.

In the wealthier surrounds of Soweto's Orlando East, where Nelson Mandela's old home is now a museum these concerns feel less urgent.

"The ANC isn't just a party, it's a culture," says Simtha Mlawu a young musician who was still in high school in 1994. "The ANC isn't Mbeki. The ANC isn't Zuma."

It is Madiba though, as Mr Mandela is known here. Madiba is thought to get on well with "JZ", and after the frosty, paranoid Mbeki years that's enough for many people.

His appearance at the last ANC rally before the election yesterday only served to ram home the point.

"Madiba has influence over JZ," says Mlawu. "Even now I'd expect Madiba to be having a say behind the scenes."

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
These photographs released by the University of Maryland Medical Center show images of full face transplant recipient 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris of Hillsville, Virginia
mediaGQ front page features man who underwent full face transplant
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
football
News
The Swiss Re tower or 'Gherkin' was at one time the UK’s most expensive office when German bank IVG and private equity firm Evans Randall bought it
news
Sport
Moeen Ali wearing the 'Save Gaza' and 'Free Palestine' wristbands on his left arm
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tv
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
filmThe Battle of the Five Armies trailer released
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Business Partner (Maternity Cover 12 Months)

£30000 - £34000 Per Annum 25 days holiday, Private healthcare: Clearwater Peop...

Business Analyst - London - Banking - £400-£450

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Banking - London...

Application Engineer - Flow Metering

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Application ...

Chemical Engineer/Project Coordinator

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Chemical Eng...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on