Johannesburg - The ANC has dispatched a throng of its top brass to canvass for votes in Limpopo ahead of the DA’s national manifesto launch on Sunday in Polokwane.
More than 50 ANC national executive committee members, including party deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, embarked on a door-to-door campaign in the province’s five regions.
Only President Jacob Zuma and secretary-general Gwede Mantashe were not part of this weekend campaign.
DA leader Helen Zille and the party’s national leadership hoped to capture voters’ attention at the official election manifesto launch on Sunday.
The two parties will flex their muscles in a second round of their political battle after the DA march to the ANC headquarters in Joburg ended in chaos a fortnight ago.
The DA marched to Luthuli House against the ANC manifesto, which promised to create 6 million job opportunities.
The ANC is not expected to march to the DA’s manifesto launch, but the widespread presence of its senior leaders in the province is likely to send a political message to the official opposition.
During a door-to-door campaign at Moletjie village outside Polokwane, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte rejected suggestions that her party deliberately planned its weekend campaign to counter the DA’s election manifesto launch in the area.
She said the ANC had long been planned its election programme.
“So whatever happens with anyone else is not our concern and our campaign does not interfere with what they are doing; we are going door-to-door, irrespective of what Independent Newspapers might wish to support,” said Duarte.
She claimed Independent News and Media SA, the parent company of The Sunday Independent and other titles such as The Star, was pushing the DA campaign. “I know what The Star does and I am very aware that the Independent Newspapers support the DA wholeheartedly,” said Duarte.
She said the group, through its editorials and columnists, persistently attacked the ANC. “The same way you are DA, the TNA (The New Age newspaper) is ANC and there is no problem with that,” said Duarte.
Duarte had earlier met Chief Kgabo Moloto III of the Moletjie area. “The chief in the main said this area is the stronghold of the ANC, but he raised a concern about this road that has been outstanding for quite a long time and he expressed the view that the people have said they were going to blockade that road,” said Duarte.
The ANC was in the area to defend its manifesto by explaining it to ordinary people in their homes, said Duarte.
She said she visited four families and they all complained about scarce water, poor roads, unemployment and crime. “All people in those homes said they will vote for the ANC, but they raised these issues,” said Duarte.
Roads and Transport MEC Lehlogonolo Masoga, the executive mayor of Polokwane local municipality Freddy Greaver and his Capricorn district municipality counterpart Lawrence Mapoulo flanked Duarte.
She said municipalities were refurbishing two dams which would help to alleviate the water crisis. “Tomorrow (Sunday) the MEC of roads will be meeting with the people. All they want is to know the plan to actually develop that road,” said Duarte.
It’s understood that almost all ANC leaders first visited local traditional leaders on their door-to- door campaigns.
In the Mopani region, Ramaphosa paid a visit to Chief Mhlanga of the Mhlava Tribal Authority. Traditional leaders in Limpopo control a larger part of the rural province.
The visits to traditional leaders come shortly after the controversial Traditional Courts Bill was rejected by Parliament as unconstitutional. Critics of the bill said it gave traditional leaders absolute powers and that it would create a separate justice system for rural communities.
Asked about the bill’s rejection, Duarte said Parliament would never pass any bill that contradicted the constitution. She said the ANC supported the view that the bill be taken back to provinces for further discussions.
“But at the same time, as (traditional leaders) put it, there are people in the villages who do come to them with their very personal domestic problems and as traditional leaders they continue to deal with those problems,” said Duarte.