by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – THE travails of African National Congress (ANC) president, Cyril Ramaphosa, in Soweto ahead of the local government elections give credibility to the saying that a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown.
The historic region, west of Johannesburg, has been a hostile campaigning ground for the head of the party and the state.
Ramaphosa last Thursday cancelled a campaign in the township, weeks after residents enraged by lack of electricity and poor service delivery booed him.
While the ruling party stated that the leader was addressing other pressing issues, it is believed he cancelled in fear of similar treatment by residents.
Following the booing in the township where Ramaphosa was born (in 1952), the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) is upbeat of its prospects in Soweto.
Natasha Mazzone, Chief Whip of the DA, claimed Ramaphosa curtailed campaigning in Soweto due to the ANC being unwelcome in the area.
“The DA notes that Ramaphosa has been forced to cancel a campaign rally in Soweto today (last Thursday), due to community rejection of the failing ANC,” Mazzone said.
“It is becoming clear that the ANC campaign, which is nothing more than a series of door to doors by Cyril Ramaphosa, is unwelcome in large parts of South Africa, just like Ramaphosa is unwelcome in Soweto today.”
Soweto, with an estimated population of 1,9 million, is largely impoverished.
In July, it experienced tragic scenes of unrest when a number of shopping malls were looted.
This was during the violence that swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces coinciding with the arrest of former ANC and state president, Jacob Zuma.
He is Ramaphosa’s predecessor.
Soweto falls under the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality.
ANC won 121 seats in the municipality during the 2016 elections. DA won 104. The debutant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) secured 30 while the remaining 15 were shared among smaller parties.
The Johannesburg mayoral post however went to the DA’s Herman Mashaba, who has since quit the party and formed the ActionSA.
He is aiming for the position again.
Meanwhile, unlike his last visit to Soweto, jubilant crowds welcomed Ramaphosa to the Free State province on Sunday.
He was on the campaign trail in Maluti A Phofung municipality.
In the 2016 election, ANC won a majority of 47 seats (67,4 percent) on the council.
The ruling party retained its majority in the Free State.
Ramaphosa pledged his party would address service delivery issues if kept in office.
“Many municipalities are not serving people well. We are going to fix our municipalities. We will put the right people in our municipalities,” he assured.
South Africa’s local government elections are set for November 1.
– CAJ News