'We love Helen Zille!' - DA supporters

DA leader Mmusi Maimane is due to speak at 12.30pm. (Delwyn Verasamy, Mail & Guardian)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane is due to speak at 12.30pm. (Delwyn Verasamy, Mail & Guardian)

“We love Helen Zille!” a group of excited young men in DA T-shirts, put on over their shirts, said when asked what they thought of their party leader. 

“We want a good leader who will change our environment,” they said. The mention of Mmusi Maimane, who took over from Zille almost a year ago, had the six guys caucusing amongst one another with puzzled expressions on their faces. 

Azona Kube, brothers Msatjo and Msanzi Mtumgwa, Mzwandile Ngema and Siyabonga Bantsa, all between the ages of 18 and 20, are all students from Secunda who came to the DA’s manifesto launch at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg for the DA. 

They excitedly took selfies with a Blackberry phone while being interviewed. 

“We are here to campaign for and support the DA,” Kube said when asked why they came to the rally. 

“The DA is better, it is helping the people with better services and creating jobs and stopping corruption,” he said when asked why they chose the DA over other parties. 

“We love the DA and support the DA,” three of the young men shouted in a choir. 

Hendrik Mbatha, a 52-year-old from Springs in the Ekurhuleni metro, said he has been a DA member for many years. 

“Everywhere the DA is going, there is no corruption and the DA is the only party that is the rainbow nation that old man Nelson Mandela was speaking of,” he said. 

Johanna Ngema from Soshanguve said she came to listen to Maimane outline the DA’s programme. “I want to hear him talking about jobs,” he said. 

Marie Raseroka, a 42-year-old unemployed woman from Cullinan in the Tshwane Metro, said she’s been a member of the DA since 2009. 

“I like the DA because they don’t have corruption. We think we will get the opportunity at the DA,” she said. 

She said things were not working where she lived, and people wanted jobs, water and delivery in general. “We are still staying in shacks, many people are still suffering,” she said, adding she believed the DA had a chance to win in her metro. 

Michelle Rautenbach, a DA councillor from Delmas, was also on the stands. She said she had been a DA member for seven years and believed the party’s principles and policies were in place to ensure everyone was treated equally. 

She said she’d been to many DA rallies before, but this one was the biggest to date. 

“I came here to find out what the manifesto holds for us, and we are all excited to see what Mmusi Maimane will present today,” she said. 

Most of the seats in the 35 000-seater stadium were filled up by the time the formal programme started at 11.30 am on Saturday. At least a quarter of the seats – behind the stage – were blocked off but chairs were also put out on the pitch. 

Party federal chairperson Athol Trollip said the party expected “more than 20 000” supporters to attend in what is billed to be one of the DA’s biggest rallies to date. 

Before the start of the official programme, crowds were entertained by Idols winner Karabo Mogane, Kid X, Ricky Rick and Moby Dixon, as well as Liquideep. 

Speakers included Gauteng provincial leader John Moodey, MP and party national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme and DA Youth Leader Yusuf Cassim. 

DA mayoral candidates like Patricia de Lille (Cape Town), Athol Trollip (Nelson Mandela Bay Metro), Ghaleb Cachalia (Ekurhuleni) and Herman Mashaba (Johannesburg) were on the programme to address the crowds. 

The keynote address is set to be delivered by party leader Mmusi Maimane.

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