Honking motorcade kicks off Zuma’s party after S.Africa voteSun, 02 Jun 2024 15:23:37 GMT

A motorcade of honking cars drove around former South African president Jacob Zuma’s home province on Saturday to celebrate the graft-tainted politician’s surprise general election breakthrough. Supporters of the charismatic 82-year-old sat on the vehicles’ window ledges singing anti-apartheid anthems as the convoy swirled around mountain villages, cheered by flag-waving residents. “We voted for Zuma because we have seen his hard work,” said Sakhile Shezi, a 31-year-old factory worker. Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party came out of nowhere to win more than 14 percent of votes nationwide in Wednesday’s election, according to official figures, with 99.89 percent of votes counted. Founded just months ago as a vehicle for the former national president and ANC chief, it is now South Africa’s third-largest party, behind the governing African National Congress and the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA). In Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal, a key electoral battleground, it emerged as the largest force with 45.9 percent, routing the ANC and pushing it toward the party’s worst national result in three decades of democracy. Having slid well below 50 percent of preferences for the first time, the ANC will now have to look for coalition partners to form a national government, and the MK is among various potential bedfellows. – ‘Wisdom of the people’ -“Now that we have taken over, the real work begins,” Musa Mkhize, MK’s provincial head of programmes, told supporters as the convoy stopped during its two-hour journey across the semi-rural area of Kwaximba, one of the biggest voting districts. “We are here to celebrate the wisdom of the people of these wards… to celebrate with them that they have brought the power of the people back to them,” he added to AFP. Zuma, who was president from 2009 to 2018, was forced out of office under the cloud of corruption, and for many South Africans his rule has since become synonymous with “state capture” by corrupt business interests. But he is still venerated by large swathes of the population in KwaZulu-Natal, where many identify with his Zulu traditionalism. Celebrations in some parts of the province kicked off as soon as results started to trickle in this week. Despite its impressive score, MK has contested the vote tally. On Saturday, Zuma warned the electoral commission against announcing the final results on Sunday as scheduled. “When the official results come out, we will have the majority, that we don’t doubt,” Thembeka Gwala, 30, said from a moving minibus.Throughout the campaign MK told supporters it was going to win two-thirds of the vote.