Cape Town - With 10 days to go to May 7, parties and their leaders pulled out all the stops ahead of Freedom Day on Sunday, taking no prisoners in the final push to lure voters to their cause.
In the Western Cape, Premier Helen Zille warned supporters against complacency in the province, urging them to turn out in numbers so they could improve on their result in the last election.
She said the DA’s support wasn’t confined to the Western Cape, claiming the “‘bluenami’ is washing all over South Africa”.
Also in the province to woo voters over the Freedom Day weekend was EFF leader Julius Malema who, wearing his signature red beret, told a crowd of several thousand in Lentegeur that there was no reason to celebrate Freedom Day on Sunday.
He told his supporters that instead of celebrating the date of the first democratic elections 20 years ago, they should rather hit the campaign trail.
“Just go and do door-to-door and explain to our people that the freedom that they have been waiting for is not yet here.”
Malema said the “African national criminals” had not brought true freedom as they had not transformed the economy.
“What type of freedom is this one that denies the people the right to send their message on a television?” he asked, referring to an EFF election advert that the SABC rejected, saying it had the potential to incite violence.
Joining him in taking a swipe at the government was UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who said the ANC had not “managed our democracy properly”.
“There are signs that we’re on a slippery slope in many areas, especially on service delivery. When you’re on the road you’re not sure whether you’ll reach your destination or your car will be stoned by angry people, because the powers that be don’t distribute resources equitably,” he said.
Kenneth Meshoe, leader of the ACDP, said although he was grateful to see how the nation had pursued the task of reconciliation, crime rates were too high.
”I’m hoping that the next 20 years will be even better, and that those who have been abusing their rights also become mature and start respecting rights of other people.”
President Jacob Zuma, however, was adamant on Saturday that the ANC would silence its critics.
Zuma was speaking at an event to honour the life and times of Oliver Tambo, the ANC’s longest-serving president in exile.
The ANC’s top leadership and veterans gathered at Tambo’s graveside in Wattville on the East Rand, Johannesburg, to commemorate the 21st anniversary of his death.
Meanwhile, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said at a democracy conference in the UK on Friday that he was confident South Africans would elevate their experience in a democracy to the level where democratic practice became second nature.
In Durban on Saturday,
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande told thousands of supporters who marched from Curries Fountain Stadium to the Gugu Dlamini Park in support of the ANC, that opposition parties’ campaigns were limited to reports by the public protector.
The joint march saw a memorandum from the SACP and Cosatu being handed over to ANC national executive member Joe Phaahla.
Speaking to the media after addressing the crowds, Nzimande said he was concerned at the “hypocrisy” of the opposition parties and “sections” of the media when it came to the office of the public protector.
“They can’t say that eight years ago it was correct to attack the public protector, but today it is not correct to criticise the public protector.”
But he added that while the SACP and Cosatu were backing the ANC in the upcoming election, the ruling party did not have carte blanche to do what it wanted without consulting its alliance partners.
“We have never voted for the ANC on the basis of a blank cheque. There are certain things we will continue to engage (with the government).
“There is no other organisation we believe that can respond to the issues of the majority of the people in this country, especially the workers.”
Accepting the memorandum, Phaahla told supporters the DA had now accepted that the ANC was the leader.
“The DA is trying to mimic the ANC,” he said, adding that DA members were now toyi-toying the same way ANC members had done for years.
He described the DA as being desperate and called the EFF the “economic freedom fools”, saying they had a leader who had never worked, and owed millions in taxes.
IFP national organiser Alco Ngobese said that while the party was also grateful for the freedom South Africans had, the post-1994 governments should have done better.
Ngobese said the government’s record was not good enough, largely due to corruption and cadre deployment.
“With the budget we have, running into a trillion, we should not be where we are. It could have been better.”