Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa received an ANC presidential campaign boost with an endorsement from jailed AbaThembu king Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo’s eldest son at the weekend.
His nation had pinned their hopes on Ramaphosa for the revival and unity of the ANC, acting AbaThembu king Azenathi Dalindyebo, 25, said.
Ramaphosa was in Mthatha for an ANC rally at the Richardson Park Stadium on Saturday, but first paid a courtesy visit to the royal house at the Bumbane Great Place, about 50km away.
At the royal gravesite, Ramaphosa paid his respects.
The acting king assured the deputy president he had the blessing of the Dalindyebo ancestors and the AbaThembu for the ANC national conference from December 16 to 20.
“He is the right person to steer South Africa in the right direction,” Azenathi said.
“We need people like him who can stabilise our economy and country. We grant him the most favourable opportunity. “We believe he will be president.” Azenathi said it had been ANC tradition for the deputy president to ascend to president.
He asked: “Why not continue with that practice? Why now do we want to change things that worked for the unity of the ANC and created stability?”
It drew applause from the thousands attending the political rally.
Jailed king Buyelekhaya was an ANC member and Umkhonto weSizwe cadre when in exile in Zambia.
While there, he stayed with another presidential hopeful, Lindiwe Sisulu, who has been critical of his jailing.
Azenathi said: “AbaThembu kings have been supporting the ANC for at least three generations.
“We are the only kingdom with so many generations of kings committing their lives to the ANC.
“It is for this reason that our hearts bleed over the chaos in the ANC.
“We hope with comrade Ramaphosa at the helm, the ANC will be restored to its former glory.”
His father went to jail having felt deserted by the ANC under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma.
King Buyelekhaya had said that the ANC was spitting on the graves of the AbaThembu kings – and he responded by joining the DA.
After laying wreaths at the royal graves, Ramaphosa and other ANC leaders met in private with the acting king and his council.
Ramaphosa said he was humbled by the AbaThembu endorsement and called the Bumbane Great Place the original home of the ANC.
“I am honoured to be welcomed in this way by the king and his people,” the deputy president said.
Later, Ramaphosa and the acting king were driven to the well-attended rally where Azenathi and ANC Youth League national executive member Thembi Siweya again publicly endorsed Ramaphosa and received huge applause.
Azenathi’s royal family is deeply divided – there is a part of the family that wishes his uncle, Prince Mankunku Dalindyebo, to be acting king, and they are challenging the appointment of Azenathi in court.
At the rally, Ramaphosa tackled issues ranging from the downgrade of South Africa to junk status, state capture, poverty, inequality and HIV/Aids, and unemployment.
He said the youth had a responsibility to become part of a turnaround in South Africa’s economy.