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Zille surfs her blue wave into Port Elizabeth

Mandy Rossouw

Helen Zille took the DA's electoral campaign to a poor Port Elizabeth area, promising better policing and community work if the party is voted in.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille has promised the poor coloured community of Helenvale in Port Elizabeth a dedicated metro police for the municipality if they vote the DA into power.

Zille was the main attraction in the suburb when she visited the Eastern Cape’s Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality on Thursday.

Kobus Street in the centre of Helenvale was awash with DA colours as 150 supporters dressed in DA T-shirts joined Zille in a “blue wave”—a street march, with singing and dancing all the way.

Local women came out with their swirl kouse (headscarf) on their heads and children in tow, some of them still in pyjamas, to join the procession. Others had plastic bottles filled with alcohol to provide refreshment during the journey.

Opposite Zille’s destination, a local resource centre, waited a group of 20 African National Congress (ANC) supporters playing the ANC election songs on massive speakers that were put out on the pavement.

Tracks such as We don’t do open toilets, we build houses and Go back to Cape Town competed with the hooters of the DA-branded vehicles that lined the streets.

Despite her public opposition to blue lights, Zille and the crowd were followed by a white Polo hatchback from the Nelson Mandela Bay Precinct Patrol.

In her blue jeans and DA sneakers, Zille first did a little dance to entertain the crowd once it had settled into the hall, and then—after reminding supporters not to stand in front of the television cameras—turned on the charm.

“We don’t look at the colour of your skin, we look at your heart,” Zille said in Afrikaans. “You are the people who are the backbone of the DA and your hearts are beating for the DA. It’s time that this ward becomes a DA ward.

“Port Elizabeth is the only metro in the country without a dedicated police service. Now we have community peace workers who do the work that the local government neglects to do. We can change this, it lies in your hands,” she told the crowd to loud applause.

‘I don’t want to vote for the ANC’
Zille had a few people convinced even before she set foot in Port Elizabeth.

Margaret Joseph (57) told the Mail & Guardian she has “always” voted DA.

“I don’t want to vote for the ANC. I can’t tell you why, but I just don’t want to be part of them,” she said with a big, toothless grin.

And the young men of the suburb complained about unemployment and how affirmative action takes jobs away from them.

“You’ll go to factory and then they’ll take 30 black people, two white people and one coloured person,” said Anthony Stuurman, a 30-year-old father of one.

Some said they would vote DA to get rid of the ANC’s “jobs for pals” scheme.

“The ANC just provides jobs for their own people in the lokasie [township]; we don’t get anything,” complained Richardo Carolus, an unemployed panel beater.

But 31-year-old Bruce Swarts called the politicians’ bluff and said he would refuse to vote for any of them.

“The DA and the ANC are the same. The only time politicians worry about us coloured people is at election time. That’s why they all come here now,” he said, wryly, on the pavement—as the music and the jubilant noise of the blue wave faded away.

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