ELECTION campaigning moved into top gear as the DA launched its manifesto in Cape Town yesterday hoping to secure more enclaves of power from the ANC who deployed its big guns across the nine provinces to retain control.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to launch his party’s election manifesto in Tshwane tomorrow where the ruling party was removed by a DA coalition.
With only five weeks before South Africans go to the polls, parties have ramped up campaigning to position themselves well for the election battle.
During the launch of its manifesto the DA made, what some political analysts dubbed sweeping promises, which included a new era for the “devolution of power” away from the national government to DA-run municipalities and the removal of the ANC from municipalities it controls due to the collapse of services.
DA leader John Steenhuisen said the time to remove the ANC had come.
Many municipalities were in a state of collapse and have become ghost towns because of a lack of services.
“Ours is a country where the biggest employers in town have to beg their local governments, for years and years, to improve the provision of clean water or to maintain the road infrastructure so that the business can remain viable.
“And when this doesn’t happen, and when these businesses and factories eventually closed down or relocate elsewhere, these very same local governments turn around and beg them to stay,” said Steenhuisen.
“One by one, our small towns are becoming economic ghost towns.
“And the people who remain after all the businesses have left are faced with an impossible decision: Stay there, unemployed, desperately poor and with almost no prospect of finding a job, or leave the place you call home and your family in search of an equally uncertain future in a strange city,” said the DA leader.
“Those cannot be the only two options.
“We cannot accept the demise of all these local economies as an inevitable fate.
“These are things that can be changed – things that are worth fighting for,” said Steenhuisen.
“The DA will provide clean, drinking water… hygienic environment to live in through regular waste collection, managing landfills, controlling polluting emissions and supporting waste pickers in their recycling efforts,” said Steenhuizen.
The party’s other mission was to make six pilot municipalities in the Western Cape “load shedding proof”, improve public transport and roads, fight crime, create an environment for investment and job creation, “good, clean, and transparent governance”.
“Ultimately our goal is to devolve much of the policing functions from the national government to competent metros and municipalities, and we will fight the national government’s attempts to bring all metro police departments and municipal law enforcement into one centralised police service.
“We will take this fight all the way to the Constitutional Court if we must,” warned Steenhuizen.
Regarding the provision of housing, Steenhuizen said DA municipalities would collaborate with the private sector and continue to push the national government to release suitable tracts of state-owned land in cities to help deliver quality housing options.
The DA’s mayoral candidate for the city, Geordin Hill-Lewis vowed to even “do more” to turn the city into a “great world city”.
Cape town is regarded as the flagship of the DA and punted as the best-run city.
Hill-Lewis said the party’s new era would start in Cape Town, “as we push the boundaries of local government power further than ever before to secure the future of our beautiful Mother City”.
“We will secure Cape Town’s future against the decline of the national government.
“We will fight for control of Cape Town’s railways.
“We will deploy hundreds more law enforcement officers to make communities safer.
“And we will continue our struggle to force the national government to release the massive tracts of land it owns so the private sector can build thousands of new homes for the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ANC was doing campaigning of its own and deployed Tina Joemat-Pettersson to Cape Town.
But the former minister’s attempt to revive support for the ANC in the city sputtered badly.
Her campaigning begun in Milnerton and she then went door to door in Dunoon.
But she was forced to cancel the Joe Slovo leg of the campaign trail citing a lack of interest due to people socialising because of the long weekend.
In other parts of the country, Deputy President David Mabuza was drumming up support in Polokwane, Limpopo where he raised the alarm about the possible low voter turnout at the polls.
Mabuza said the ANC must garner support to retain wards and municipalities it controls and also increase support in areas they did not fare well in the 2016 elections.
He urged the party to listen to the needs of the people who had raised concerns about the lack of service delivery, matters they raised with regional leaders in Limpopo.
“We are concerned about the low turnout, that is why we are doing door-to-door to urge our people to come out and vote.
“I am still going to come back here, just a few minutes after voting I will be here again.
“But I must say to our contenders, that this time, we are going to beat them hands-down because our people still love the ANC.”
But for the ANC to win votes, he said they needed to address service delivery.
ANC regional leaders and municipal mayors must attend to the issues such as problems of water and sanitation and other basic necessities, that plague the people of Limpopo.
“They have got a problem with sanitation and they have got a problem with flooding in their houses when it is raining.
“They have got a problem with water, which is being rationed.
“At our briefing session the chairperson of the region, who is also mayor, told us about these problems and the plans that are in place to resolve them.
“We have communicated this to our people.
“We are very encouraged that they are saying that they are going to vote ANC,” said Mabuza.
While the ANC controls most of the municipalities in Limpopo the party is facing stiff competition from opposition parties, after it lost some of the metros and municipalities in the 2016 elections.
EFF leader Julius Malema is launching the party’s manifesto in Joburg today.
The party has insisted on the expropriation of land without compensation and has refused to back the ANC on its version of expropriation saying the state must be the custodian of the land.