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ANC caught in crossfire at election debate

Johannesburg - “Are you (the ANC) lying to the public again?”

Talk Radio 702 host Redi Tlhabi was in full flight, moderating an election debate at the Johannesburg City Hall on Wednesday, slightly less than a month before the elections take place.

An ANC advert is displayed at a tuckshop along Marthinus Smuts Drive in Diepkloof Zone 1 in Soweto as the elections draw nearer. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

The 21 political parties taking part in the debate renewed their campaign promises on Wednesday morning, answering questions from Tlhabi, alongside questions from members of other political parties.

The radio show’s listeners also took part via Twitter, and tweets were displayed in real time.

Tension during the debate culminated into a brief scuffle between ANC and IFP supporters outside the building just after the event.

The ruling party inevitably received the most attention as opposition parties took digs at the ANC’s Nkandla scandal and rampant government corruption.

“We are fully cognisant (of the fact) that corruption is a model in (our) society,” said Nhlanhla Khubisa, of the National Freedom Party.

Some parties aimed their 30-second speeches at President Jacob Zuma.

DA premier candidate in Gauteng Mmusi Maimane said his party would not tolerate anything like the spending at Nkandla under a DA government.

IFP secretary-general Sibongile Nkomo said the IFP would strengthen the role of the public protector.

Audience members also challenged Zuma’s comments on Tuesday that the country respected Uganda’s recently passed anti-homosexuality legislation.

These were “draconian laws” that should be interfered with, said DA supporter Edmund Bailey, who likened the legislation to South Africa’s apartheid laws.

Former public works minister Thoko Didiza told the debate: “(The ANC will not) talk over people instead of talking to them.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Gauteng premier candidate, Dali Mpofu, challenged the ANC over its deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, and his significant investment in Lonmin, the mining company whose employees were gunned down.

He said the ANC’s policies would keep the wealth in corporate hands.

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