JOHANNESBURG: South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma’s family slaughtered 12 cows at his rural village at the weekend in a traditional ritual to help him keep his job, local media said on Monday.
The Times quoted one clan elder calling on the ancestors to protect Zuma against his rivals ahead of an African National Congress (ANC) leadership vote next month.
“We appeal to you all ... ancestors, to be with him, to guide him and protect him against those ganging up against him,” Maqhinga Zuma said at the ceremony in Nkandla where an upgrade to the leader’s private home has sparked controversy.
Guests feasted on the beef cooked on open fire and drank traditional brew, according to the newspaper The Star.
Pictures of Zuma clad in a traditional Zulu warrior leopardskin jacket and brandishing a spear and shield were plastered on the front pages of two leading newspapers.
He faces a tough re-election bid at the ruling party congress after some former supporters have in recent months openly campaigned for his removal, calling for him to be replaced by his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe.
No party officials attended the ceremony.
Zuma has come under fire for his leadership in the face of a myriad pressing challenges, including a slowing economy, joblessness and spiralling corruption.
His home in Nkandla, a village in rural KwaZulu-Natal, is also at the centre of a storm over a security upgrade costing around $28 million (Dh102.81 million).
Opposition parties are trying to introduce a vote of no-confidence motion in parliament.
Despite Zuma’s waning popularity, analysts believe he will be re-elected as party leader, which would virtually hand him another term as the country’s president from 2014 due to the ANC’s overwhelming political dominance.