Age-old promises from Cyril on the election trail in KZN
A 102-year-old was among the party's supporters who met the president on Monday
Centenarian Johanna Godden was so overwhelmed when President Cyril Ramaphosa visited her home in Merlewood, Port Shepstone on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast that she planted a kiss on his hands.
Ramaphosa reciprocated by planting two kisses on her left cheek and mouth, resulting in loud applause from her children and grandchildren who surrounded them in the lounge.
The 102-year-old pensioner left Ramaphosa and ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala in stitches when she asked the president to give her money every month to pay for water and electricity. She also told Ramaphosa that she witnessed the release of Nelson Mandela from prison – an event she described as “so nice”.
Godden wore a yellow ANC T-shirt emblazoned with the face of the man who was sitting in her home. It had been given to her by ANC volunteers ahead of the president’s visit.
“We’re very delighted to see you, but to me you still look so young,” said Ramaphosa.
Godden responded by telling him she still had lots of pain at night.
“We’re so delighted the Lord has spared you,” said Ramaphosa.
Overawed by the president’s visit, Godden told him her husband had fought in the war.
“You must give me all that I need and my grandchildren,” she told Ramaphosa, who replied: “Yes, I’ll give you what you need.”
“You are a busy man, you know,” she responded. “You must give me money every month. You must pay for water and electricity. My pension is finished by the end of the month. I pay for my drugs from the doctor.”
Ramaphosa, in turn, praised her for being in good health.
“You are still in good health and I’m glad to see that. You’re blessed and we’re blessed to have you around.”
Ramaphosa was in Merlewood – a predominantly coloured towship less than 10km from Port Shepstone – as part of a drive by the ANC to mobilise support ahead of the party’s January 8 statement and launch of its manifesto in Durban on Saturday.
Earlier, Ramaphosa conducted a door-to-door campaign in the Masinenge informal settlement, where he promised residents the ANC government will build them house. He also visited the nearby Masinenge Housing Project to inspect its progress.
Ramaphosa later told ANC supporters he was happy to be on the KZN lower south coast because it was the home of the ANC.
“I’m happy to be among you here on the lower south coast, especially because this is the home of the ANC. It’s known [in] the whole of KZN that this is the home of the ANC. If you want more support of the ANC, you come here to this area.”
It was the ANC president’s first mobilisation campaign following the three-day national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Durban last week to finalise the party’s national and provincial lists.
“So the NEC was here. And it’s also here because it is preparing for the birthday of the ANC at Moses Mabhida [stadium in Durban]. We have prepared everything. We’re here to mobilise you to make sure you are all at Moses Mabhida.”
Ramaphosa also went on a blitz at the Port Shepstone taxi rank where he interacted with hawkers and passengers while handing out pamplets about the launch of the ANC’s manifesto, which coincides with the party’s 107th anniversay.
But some people were heard complaining that they were tired of being given pamphlets and wanted ANC T-shits instead. Some taxi drivers asked how Ramaphosa could expect them to vote for him as they believed he was behind the excessive petrol hikes that have hit consumers in recent months.
But Ramaphosa was unfazed and continued his walkabout, while others clamoured for his picture and selfies as his bodyguards and members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe military veterans ensured his protection.
A jovial Ramaphosa, who also danced on stage in the company of Zikalala, said the message of party unity that came out of the ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec, Johannesburg, in December had been well embraced.
“It’s been wholly embraced in KZN and in a number of other provinces,” he said.
Ahead and after Nasrec, KZN was deeply divided between Ramaphosa’s supporters and those of former president Jacob Zuma, who had backed his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, for the ANC’s top job.