National

Zille sets DA's gaze on 2016 local elections

Emsie Ferreira

After arriving back in the Western Cape, the DA head says her party will start planning for the 2016 local government elections from Monday.

DA supporters danced and sang while waiting for party leader Helen Zille to arrive back in the Western Cape on Saturday. (David Harrison, M&G)

Helen Zille, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) would start work on the 2016 elections from Monday, she said at her arrival in Cape Town on Saturday after her party secured the province and increased national support.

“We will take tomorrow [Sunday] off to give thanks for this great victory but on Monday we start working for 2016,” Zille said after winning an outright majority in the province.

“We are the only party that grew. Everybody else went backwards in this election,” she said to a group of about 250 DA supporters in their blue T-shirts who had waited in the rain to welcome her home.

“People used to say we are a party of minorities. Well we got more than one million new votes and 700 000 of those votes are from black South Africans who have never voted for the DA before ... We have broken the ceiling.”

Zille said 40% of the party’s new black voters were from Gauteng, showing that spending a large portion of its campaign budget in the province had paid off.

“It was a completely worthwhile investment and we had a fantastic return on that investment.”

Model of democracy
DA researchers say they had calculated the increase in black support by using official census date data to determine the demographics of voter districts.

The party had hoped that its premier candidate Mmusi Maimane would succeed the ANC’s Nomvula Mokonyane. Expectations are that Maimane will now be heading to Parliament instead.

Zille effusively thanked her supporters in Afrikaans for the increase in the party’s majority in the Cape.

“The blue wave is washing across the whole country because it started here in this city. We will turn this country around one day to a model of democracy,” she said.

Earlier, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said she was ready to return to the position.

“If the people of Cape Town want me,” she said. “When we won the metro in 2011 with 61%, that paved the way for us.”

Reduced majority
The DA won 59.2% of the provincial vote, increasing its outright majority in the Western Cape.

The ANC improved its support base somewhat and garnered 33.04% of the vote.

Nationally, the DA increased its support in the 2014 elections from 16.66% in 2009 to 22.23% to become the official opposition to the ANC which received a reduced majority mustering 62.15% compared with 2009 and 65.9% of the vote.

The results are expected to be confirmed at 6pm on Saturday by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Contenders
The party will have to square up to the ANC’s Marius Fransman, who will return to the province as the leader of the official opposition.

The former deputy international relations minister said he was excited about returning to the province and building the ANC structures ahead of the 2016 municipal elections.

Zille will also have to contend with Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters which should get at least one seat in the province’s legislature. – Sapa

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