Opposition parties to fight it out in the Free State

With the African National Congress assured of a large majority in the Free State, the main election battle will be between the opposition parties for the remaining seats in the provincial legislature.

“It depends on what happens in a week’s time. One thing is sure, the ANC will probably get the same percent as last time which will assure them of 25 of the 30 seats in the legislature. The real question is how will the other seats be divided,” New National Party provincial leader Innes Aucamp said on Thursday.

Aucamp is first on the party’s list and almost assured of a seat.
The NNP has two now, and hopes to maintain or improve on that. The other three seats belong to the Democratic Alliance, which has two, and the Freedom Front Plus.

Aucamp’s confidence that the NNP would “give the DA a go” was scorned by DA provincial leader Andries Botha.

“In our phoning and polls there is no support for the NNP. The FF Plus may get some growth, but not much,” he said.

The DA is aiming at securing five seats in the legislature, and expects the ANC to lose a few seats, keeping around 24.

“The ANC has had an incredibly visible campaign which will stem the tide away from it, but the writing is on the wall for them,” said Botha, who attributes the ANC’s loss to “the local government disaster” the ANC had brought upon the province, the most immediately visible example being the mismanagement apparent in the Lejweleputswana district municipality.

A Sunday newspaper reported gross mismanagement of public funds in the municipality, which among other things apparently spent R19 000 each on toilets in a low-cost housing scheme, and R1 174 on golf shirts.

Botha said many traditional ANC supporters were “angry and disappointed” at local government mismanagement and the party would pay the price in 2005’s local government election.

“If they hadn’t spent millions (on their campaign) that would happen now.”

His words contrasted with those of ANC provincial spokesperson Spirit Monyobo, who said people believed support for the party would grow.

“Our campaign is in full swing and will end only hours before elections, in accordance with the law. We are touching every corner of the province.”

The party’s campaign plan is built around 20 key towns and Monyobo insists that the ANC is speaking to those outside its traditional support base. He denied that its assurance of a majority meant there were sectors of society that could be ignored.

“We are pulling out all the stops.”

However, when the party goes to the so-called “apartheid town” of Botshabelo on Thursday it will be speaking to people at the local taxi rank.

When Sapa asked him if the ANC was to speak to, or had spoken to, the white community there—known for its conservatism—he said: “Botshabelo is predominately black.”

FF Plus youth leader Werner Pretorius, who said his party was “working every day, every night” to garner votes, said it was “true” that the ANC’s political comfort might cost it some votes.

“They are campaigning, but not aggressively.”

Pretorius said the FF Plus was making inroads, words that echoed Botha’s. However, Botha said the FF Plus was “a terminal party” which would eventually disappear countrywide.

“They only want a white, Afrikaner vote. We expect them to disappear. They only have nuisance value now.” - Sapa

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