Zuma, Mbeki vie for support of the Eastern Cape

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

The battle for the control of the ANC's strongest province, Eastern Cape, is heating up.

At an ANC Youth League 63rd anniversary rally addressed by ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma last week, two different groups of ANC members simultaneously sang different and opposing songs supporting their heroes - Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, the party's president.

Some of the people carried placards and wore T-shirts bearing slogans and faces of Mbeki and Zuma as the supporters competed for attention at the rally.

The gathering was held at Dan Qeqe Stadium in Port Elizabeth, where ANCYL leader, Fikile Mbalula, also spoke.

The estimated 500 people who attended the rally separated into two, sang and taunted each other while waiting for Zuma to arrive. He kept the people waiting for five hours.

ANC regional secretary Mthwabo Ndube said Zuma was expected at about 10am and he arrived after 3pm. One group was singing Zuma's Umshini Wami and the other group a freedom song in support of Thabo Mbeki inside the stadium. No incidents were reported.

In his address, Zuma lashed out at the media for attacking the ANC and told party members that they have a responsibility to elect good leadership in Limpopo.

The rally marked the intensification of the battle for the soul of the ANC's strongest province, and the organisation's titans are out to outdo one another.

Mbeki and ANC national chairman Mosiuoa Lekota will visit the province in the next two weeks.

Lekota is expected to speak at a rally in Port Alfred on November 23 and then address a fund-raising dinner in Port Elizabeth on November 30.

Mbeki is expected to tour the Chris Hani region, believed to be a pro-Zuma area, on December 2.