569 24.04.2014 IFP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, COPE research manager Farouk Cassim and leader of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) Bantu Holomisa, during the live TV election debate between political parties titled ‘’is the ANC or DA or nothing’’ held at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown. Picture: Itumeleng English

Johannesburg - Smaller political party leaders have decried a skewed political party funding system and the misuse of public funds as among the reasons for the ANC and DA’s continued dominance.

“Both the ANC and DA exploit the gains of the past to gain political advantage… (They are) taking us back to 1993, where the race and stereotypes politics were dominant,” United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said on Thursday night.

He, Cope’s Farouk Cassim and the IFP’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa were taking part in the Wits Great Debate at the Wits University education campus’s Linder Auditorium in Parktown.

The event is a partnership between the university, Independent Newspapers and eNCA – with debates beamed live across South Africa, the rest of the continent and elsewhere.

Thursday night’s debate was entitled “Election 2014: Is it the ANC, the DA or nothing?”

The ANC came under severe attack for reversing the gains of the past 20 years and not doing enough in dealing with the inequality problem.

“We believe we need to address the imbalances and backlogs of the past. It cannot be that 43 million blacks in this country need to queue for jobs from a tiny minority of white people,” Holomisa said.

Hlengwa said in his opening remarks: “This election is not about the ANC or DA, but for South Africans who are tired of empty promises in the last 20 years. Young people need jobs and an end to corruption.”

Cassim was more daring in his challenge to the ruling party and the official opposition.

“We have bad news for big parties. They are doomed for extinction. Cope (will) tackle the arrogance of the big parties because we live up to the constitutionality of the people.”

Holomisa, Cassim and Hlengwa faced tough questions about their policies in tackling problems such as socio-economic inequality, lack of good governance, youth development, the green economy and how they offered anything distinct, if at all, from the ANC and DA.

In their responses, the parties wagged fingers at the ANC for interfering with and abusing state institutions for party political interest.

“We will make sure the courts and independent institutions act without interference. If the president is accused of corruption, he will have to be subjected to investigation without fear and interference,” Holomisa said.

The Star