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Cyril's charm pulls in Zulu king

King Goodwill Zwelithini and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in jovial mood yesterday.
King Goodwill Zwelithini and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in jovial mood yesterday.

Presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa kicked off his final campaign in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday by paying homage to King Goodwill Zwelithini where he presented him with one of his own African long-horned Watusi cattle from his farm.

The king in turn presented a beaming Ramaphosa with a Nguni hide battle shield.

The media were not allowed at eNyokeni Royal Palace in Nongoma, north of KwaZulu-Natal, where Ramaphosa's visit to the Zulu monarch coincided with the visit of the Ebuhleni faction of the Shembe Baptist Church for the denomination's annual royal pilgrimage.

It is understood, but not confirmed, by Ramaphosa campaigners, that he got the blessings of the Ebuhleni leader Mduduzi "Nyazilwezulu" Shembe who prayed for him to ascend to the ANC presidency.

The Shembe clergy urged Ramaphosa to revisit the church before the December national conference, adding they had previously prayed for President Jacob Zuma's presidential ambitions nearly a decade ago.

CR17 spokesman Sithembiso Mshengu confirmed Ramaphosa visited the king and that the Shembe church's presence was a coincidence.

"The deputy president is here in Nongoma and Jozini to address send-off rallies. Yes, he is currently meeting with His Majesty," he said.

This final push in the province also coincided with the last day of branch general meetings. Ramaphosa was due to address a rally in KwaGqikazi Stadium in Nongoma and at Ezibukweni sportsfield in Jozini accompanied by former KZN premier and ousted ANC provincial chair Senzo Mchunu.

Thousands of his supporters filled KwaGqikazi stadium as they awaited his arrival. People were bused in from Pongola, Richards Bay, Vryheid and Mpumalanga where he addressed a rally on Saturday.

"We chose the two regions to hold rallies because this is where our candidates did well in the nominations by the BGMs (branch general meetings).

"We did well here in Abaqulusi and in the Far North region and it is befitting the two regions convene a send-off rally for him," said Mshengu.

He said Ramaphosa's unity message resonated with every structure in the ANC, and also rubbished unfounded speculations that he had met Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to broker a deal in case both of them do not win the upcoming ANC elective conference in December. - TimesLIVE

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