President Jacob Zuma received a warm welcome when he visited the Zamdela informal settlement in Sasolburg, in the Free State. Photo: Sapa

Johannesburg - Political parties on Saturday stepped up their election drives to woo voters in various parts of the country ahead of the May 7 general election.

Some campaigns ran smoothly while the EFF's rally in Thokoza, south of Johannesburg, had a bumpy start when it was allegedly sabotaged in a pre-dawn petrol bomb attack.

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the stage and marquee that had been set up at the Sam Ntuli stadium was torched on Saturday morning.

“No arrests have been made, but we have opened a case with police.”

The party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu was scheduled to address the rally at 10am, but it was moved to the afternoon because of the incident.

The EFF suspected that African National Congress members may have been behind the attack.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu rejected the accusation.

“We never do such things. This is an unfair accusation,” he said.

“It is totally uncalled-for and anyone who burnt that marquee must be found and prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, the ANC's top brass addressed campaigns in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Sasolburg, Newcastle, Ntuzuma, Howick, Khosi Bay, Parys, and Cala in the Eastern Cape.

President Jacob Zuma kicked off his campaign in the Zamdela informal settlement in Sasolburg, in the Free State. Residents lined the perimeter of the settlement and cheered as Zuma arrived.

They told Zuma of their problems, and Zuma reassured them that their complaints would be addressed. As Zuma made his way through the settlement he was stopped by a group of children, who cheered him on. Zuma paused and said: “these are our future voters.”

ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize headed to Khosi Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal and addressed traditional leaders, teachers and nurses. He also visited shopping centres as part of the party's door-to-door effort.

“The ANC is poised for an overwhelming victory,” he said during his visit.

ANC spokesman Bongani Tembe said the party had been carrying out its own snap survey since the start of their election trail last year, and their results showed the ANC would win.

“The majority of people say they will vote for the ANC. When we do door-to-door visits, we asked whether they will vote for the ANC.

“The people we interact with do not raise the issue of the Nkandla report. All they say is that they want service delivery and tell us of their problems,” said Tembe.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma improperly benefited from R246 million security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead which included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre and a cattle kraal. Zuma said he will not repay the money because he did not ask for the upgrades.

Tembe said ANC deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte canvassed in Howick, outside Pietermaritzburg, on Saturday.

Some locals expressed dissatisfaction with service delivery in their area, while others offered compliments, he said.

Cope deputy president Willie Madisha visited a women's hostel in Alexandra, Johannesburg, as part of its campaign, the SABC reported.

The Congress of the People said it intended lodging a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission over the poor conditions in the hostel.

Meanwhile, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa was campaigning in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, and was expected to deliver a speech later on Saturday.

Ruling party chairwoman Baleka Mbete was on a door-to-door drive in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal. She encouraged people to vote ANC as it was the only party that would bring progress to the country, according to the public broadcaster. - Sapa