Port Elizabeth - As election day nears, DA leader Helen Zille asked supporters in Port Elizabeth to vote and, if inclined, to follow ballot-casting with a prayer.
“Praying and voting are not mutually exclusive. Do both. Because votes are counted in Pretoria, not heaven,” she said.
The DA has worked hard for its unofficial target of about 20 percent of the vote in the Eastern Cape provincial elections, a provincial leader said.
This would mean double the support the party received in 2009 in the province, when the DA got 9 percent of the vote.
But the party clearly feels it has a chance in eBhayi after it managed in the 2011 municipal elections to push the ANC to a scrape-through win of just 51 percent in the Nelson Mandela municipality.
Zille and DA Eastern Cape leader Athol Trollip were joined by former ANC Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela and Nqaba Bhanga, who recently left Cope for the DA.
It was a spirited send-off.
The party has held several final provincial rallies in recent weeks – in Cape Town two weeks ago, in Joburg at the weekend and in PE on Monday.
Bhanga and Balindlela have been feathers in the cap of the party, with strong links to black constituencies.
Bhanga was a member of the ANC Youth League in the province, bringing with him strong organisational skills, while Balindlela, who hails from Stutterheim, has been hard at work in the province’s Amathole district.
On Monday, Trollip said the party had made gains in the Eastern Cape areas of Bizana in Pondoland, which are close to the KwaZulu-Natal border.
Monday’s rally at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Vista campus was different from the recent Cape and Joburg legs in one conspicuous respect: the crowd was racially diverse and integrated.
African, coloured and a sprinkling of white supporters sat next to each other, danced, got down and sang together, to popular hits from Mafikizolo and others.
Speaking later, Trollip said 20 years of work had been done in the PE metro and Eastern Cape, where a solid foundation had been built.
“In 2016, we’re coming back,” he said in reference to the next local government elections.
“This election is really a two-horse race between the ANC and DA. Don’t bet on your favourite: there’s no better party than the DA,” he said.