An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

While other parties pursue manipulative and disingenuous strategies, our campaign message is clear and transparent, says Jackson Mthembu.

Johannesburg - An election is a sacred moment in the life of a democracy. Elections are the moment when political parties seek the consent of the populace to govern in its name. Parties must explain to citizens why they are the best-placed to represent them in national and provincial legislatures and the executive, if they are the majority.

As representing the interests and aspiration of citizens is at the core of democratic politics, so should it be at the centre of the conversation political parties should have with citizens during elections.

This is why the ANC has developed a manifesto which contains coherent, realistic and achievable proposals to move South Africa forward. We see our election campaign as an opportunity to engage all South Africans in a discussion on our track record in government and our plans for the future.

Our message is clear and transparent: we have a good story to tell about the past 20 years of ANC-led democratic government, including the past five years of the most recent ANC administration; we are keenly aware of the work still to be done and the real challenges faced by the government and society; we believe we have the right plan to confront these and a vision to move South Africa forward.

Other parties are not as transparent in their campaign messaging, choosing instead to pursue manipulative and disingenuous strategies.

The DA is the worst culprit here, no longer attempting to campaign based on its own proposals, but instead organising its campaign around attacks on the ANC and bizarre historical revisionism. Even the members who leave the DA on an almost daily basis are frustrated by its dishonesty with coloured and black voters.

Today the DA has not released the Customer Satisfaction Survey because it clearly shows the neglect especially coloured and black people suffer in Cape Town.

The past few weeks have shown that the DA’s campaign is based almost entirely on cultivating and exploiting public anger about Nkandla. The DA is catering for a willing media whose first priority is selling newspapers, and knows that nothing sells like scandal.

Without repeating the many pronouncements the ANC has made on this issue, we believe we have appropriately confronted the issues raised by the public protector, and await further clarity from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

The ANC goes even further, as we say that Nkandla is only one of many projects which have seen exorbitant price inflation, and join Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi in calling attention to this endemic problem. We applaud President Jacob Zuma’s decisive action in instructing the SIU to investigate procurement irregularities in the upgrades, in line with our manifesto promises to take legal action against companies and individuals involved in the manipulation of procurement processes.

Again, the distinction is clear: our focus is on our manifesto proposals to strengthen state procurement, such as the centralised procurement process we propose, while the DA chases headlines.

Perhaps it is understandable that the DA prefers not to focus on its own manifesto, judging by how much its economic proposals are based on ANC policies and programmes.

The DA promises to continue or accelerate the National Development Plan, the National Infrastructure Plan, the Expanded Public Works Programme, social grants and employment equity, all of which are ANC policies, many of which the DA previously opposed.

In the case of employment equity and social grants, sections within the DA still oppose these policies, which has led to real confusion about where the DA really stands.

As if appropriating ANC policies is not enough, the DA then attempts to separate the ANC’s achievements from the ANC. The DA’s new line is that the ANC did achieve great progress in moving South Africa forward under the leadership of presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, but has ceased to do so under Zuma.

This is curious, as we all remember that the DA contested elections against the ANC under these leaders, criticised and opposed their policies.

We do not recall former DA leader Tony Leon conceding that Mbeki was moving South Africa forward, as Leon opposed policies such as employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment, which take race into account in achieving redress. Further, our beloved Mandela always resisted such mischievous attempts to separate him from the ANC. Madiba will forever be inextricably linked to the party which he joined, followed and led as a loyal and disciplined member for 69 years. Similarly, Mbeki is inseparable from the party which chose him to lead it from 1997 to 2007. Their achievements were the achievements of all the ANC members and supporters who developed and implemented policies and programmes under their leadership, to realise the aspirations of all South Africans. The ANC is inseparable from its leaders, then and now.

A few examples of achievements:

* Institutionalising long-term planning by establishing the National Planning Commission, which developed the National Development Plan Vision 2030, with input and support from all sectors of society.

* Recovering the 1 million jobs lost under the 2008 global economic crisis, with employment at the highest levels it has ever been.

* Developing and implementing a National Infrastructure Plan, directing unprecedented investment in social and economic infrastructure to unlock inclusive growth and job creation.

* Increasing the amount of learners in no-fee schools from 5 million in 2009 to more than 7 million today.

* Doubling the amount available for student bursaries in universities and FET colleges.

* Jackson Mthembu is ANC national spokesman.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Independent