Pro-Zuma sentiment echoed throughout the streets of Durban on June 27 as thousands of workers took to the streets in support of Cosatu’s call for mass action against job losses, unemployment and poverty.
Joe Nkosi from Cosatu, Bheki Magagula from Numsa and speakers representing the broader alliance pledged their unconditional support for the former Deputy President to whom they constantly referred to as “Msholozi” (JZ’s family name), much to the delight of the crowd.
S’dumo Dlamini, the Provincial Chairperson of Cosatu called on all workers to support a JZ trust, presumably to assist the former Deputy President who is sure to encounter a massive defence bill as he prepares to go on trial.
The announcement of a night vigil on the steps of Durban ‘s Magistrate’s Court as a symbolic gesture of support for the flamboyant president has sent a clear message that “Msholozi” is still the favourite amongst alliance partners.
While the crowd roared every time JZ’s name was mentioned, social analysts and the media from all sides of the political spectrum have been quick to speculate on the future of the former deputy president: Will JZ be the next South African President? Your guess is as good as mine, but for now it seems we all have to wait for 2007, unless events dictate otherwise.
While popular support for JZ is growing, some workers are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon, arguing instead that the federation should be more cautious in its sentiment on such a sensitive issue. As one worker remarked, “It is not wise at this stage to be drawn into such an emotive contest. As a federation we need to keep a cool head to protect the interests of workers and the poor and not just use them as pawns in what is surely becoming a dangerous political game”.
And this brings us to the question: What is it that JZ has to offer in his bid for the presidency? Will he revoke the country’s conservative economic policies, or succumb to the tune of global capital? Will he strengthen democracy and lead the country to socialism? What new policies can we expect to ensure that people have jobs, food and social security? What about the land issue, redistribution of wealth and the dominance of capital in the global economy?
These and many other questions have still to be answered – and if common sense prevails, they should be answered in front of the people and not through conference circuits and development summits.
In the meantime the masses continue to jive to the sound of “Msholozi’s machine gun song”, ironically as the country tries to curb gun violence by offering an amnesty to all those in possession of unlawful firearms.