JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has appealed to his ancestors to help him hold on to the leadership of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Report by BBC
Zuma attended a ceremony at his village on Sunday, where 12 cattle were slaughtered and incense burnt as people prayed for his re-election. His opponents are pushing for him to be ousted as ANC leader at the party’s conference next month.
Zuma, a polygamist with 21 children, is a well-known Zulu traditionalist. He beat his predecessor Thabo Mbeki in a bitterly contested election in 2007 for the leadership of the ANC.
He later forced Mbeki to resign as South Africa’s President, installing Kgalema Motlanthe as caretaker leader until the 2009 general election, when he took power.
The ANC’s influential youth wing and several government ministers are now campaigning for Motlanthe, the Deputy President, to run against Zuma at the ANC conference in Mangaung next month.
The Zuma family slaughtered 12 cattle and burnt incense at a traditional ceremony at their village in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province on Sunday to appeal to the ancestors to guide him ahead of the elections.
“We are here to give our father a sendoff to Mangaung. With this ceremony we are now sure he is protected and he will come back to celebrate with us,” Nomthandazo Zuma was quoted by South Africa’s The Mercury newspaper as saying.
Traditional leader Inkosi Bheki Zuma gave the President, who was dressed in leopard skins, a Zulu spear and shield and told him to use the weapons to protect himself from his ANC opponents, newspaper reports. Zuma has been dogged by corruption allegations throughout his term, but he is expected to be re-elected as ANC leader, analysts say.