DA leader Helen Zille said she would lead 6 000 of her party's supporters in a march to Luthuli House in the Johannesburg CBD. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg -

The ANC and DA are caught in a spat over the latter’s planned march to the ruling party’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Joburg next month.

In what could be a precursor to a tense election campaign, the DA in Gauteng issued a statement pronouncing its planned march to highlight the “failure of Jacob Zuma’s ANC to cut corruption and create jobs”.

The march, which the party said would draw about 6 000 members, would be led by its leader, Helen Zille. It is planned for February 4.

The ANC and its youth wing reacted angrily, saying the march was “unnecessary” and a “provocative and attention-seeking stunt not designed to address the issues it purports”.

“Marching to the ANC on policy positions is disingenuous at best and a display of arrogance that seeks to force onto the ANC their policies to govern,” said ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, who stopped short of accusing the DA of inciting violence.

“In the meantime, the ANC cautions the DA against taking the fight to Luthuli House. Members and supporters of the ANC will view this as an arrogant attack on our movement and a disrespect of the democratic order which seeks to establish and maintain political stability and tolerance in our country.”

Mthembu regarded it as disturbing that “this extremely provocative behaviour (comes) a few months before our general elections, which we, as the ANC, are committed to being free, fair and peaceful”.

The youth league warned the DA that its “400 000 members” would defend the ANC.

“Should the DA dare march to Chief Albert Luthuli House, they shall face the full anger of ANC Youth League members and the Progressive Youth Alliance,” said league national convener Mzwandile Masina.

He reminded the DA of its ill-fated marches to Cosatu’s Joburg headquarters in 2012, which resulted in several people being wounded, and the massacre in March 1994 when IFP supporters marched on the ANC’s offices.

“That march and its aftermath was nothing compared to what our members can do to the rented marchers who will be bused to the Joburg CBD by the demonic alliance that stands against peace and reconciliation of all South Africans. We do not want the experience of the unfortunate 1993 (sic) march to Shell House to repeat itself, it cannot be even imagined.”

But the DA remained defiant, insisting it would go ahead with its march. The party called on Mthembu to retract his “threats of violence”.

“Mthembu’s remarks are reckless and irresponsible and he must retract them immediately,” said John Moodey, the DA’s leader in Gauteng.

“Mthembu must also ensure that his party undertakes to guarantee that the DA’s constitutional right to gather and protest will be respected.”

[email protected]

The Star