Deputy president's charm offensive

Criss-crossing the country’s oldest municipality, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on Sunday went on a charm offensive to galvanise support in what was expected to be a tight municipal election in Beaufort West.

She visited three wards—Hospitaal Heuwel, Nieuveld Park and Prince Valley—before addressing a rally in Mandlenkosi.

“On Wednesday all of Beaufort West will be ANC,” predicted Mlambo-Ngcuka.

She said it was the ANC who was responsible for bringing electricity and water to people’s homes. At the same time she acknowledged that unemployment and job creation were problematic in an area where the majority of people were between the economically active age of 18 and 45 years.

She reminded the crowd of the oath ANC candidates were required to sign, committing them to serve their communities and called on the public to hold the councillors accountable.

Earlier at Hospitaal Heuwel, a DA stronghold, Mlambo-Ngcuka wooed a small group of white residents who raised a number of issues ranging from pensions and petrol increases to blacklisting by the credit bureau.

Sidney van Eck, who is struggling to make ends meet on a pension of R2 800, told the deputy president that the municipality was charging too much for its electricity and rates.

“Ek kan nie eers my vrou a pantie koop nie [I can’t even buy my wife panties],” he complained.

Mlambo-Ngcuka agreed that “something is wrong” when he told her that the municipality was charging him about R1 000 a month for services.

In Prince Valley, Mlambo-Ngcuka addressed a street imbizo and exhorted supporters to persuade any “doubting Thomas’” to vote for the ANC on Wednesday.

“Only the ANC is moving to listen to your problems ... and do something about it,” she electioneered.

Earlier at a church service Mlambo-Ngcuka appealed for divine intervention to ensure the ANC achieved outright victory.

“We are asking the Lord for an outright victory ...
asking the Lord to fill you with the spirit of the ANC,” she told the congregation of the Apostolic Faith Mission church in Mandlenkosi on the outskirts of Beaufort West.

The ANC is contesting the elections against four other political parties with the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa expected to provide a stern test.

In the previous local government election in 2000 only the DA and the ANC contested the poll.

Beaufort West is the oldest town in the central Karoo and its municipality proclaimed in 1837, is the oldest in South Africa.

Rubber bullets for unruly supporters

KwaZulu-Natal police on Sunday fired rubber bullets to disperse ANC and IFP supporters after they clashed at Wembezi Township near Escourt, South African Broadcasting Corporation radio news reported.

The report said the two parties were throwing stones at each other, in a tense situation that developed after President Thabo Mbeki campaigned for the ruling party in the area.

Both IFP and ANC supporters marched after Mbeki left.

“Police said both marches were illegal, as neither party had a permit to stage one. They separated the rival groups several times before resorting to the use of rubber bullets,” it said.

‘Most leaders have a family problem’

Traditional leaders would be given powers at local government level under African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) rule, party leader Kenneth Meshoe said on Sunday.

He was speaking in a church at Barcelona informal settlement in Daveyton, Ekurhuleni, on the East Rand.

“Where there are no chiefs, councillors will do the job,” he said.

“When the ACDP takes over chiefs will not be controlled by young comrade boys because the word of God preaches respect.”

Meshoe said chiefs were ordained by God to lead people in villages and needed to be respected. He added that houses could be built and sanitation could be installed far quicker than the government had put them in.

He stressed that money was available for housing but that it had been misused.

An international Christian organisation, Habitat for Humanity, could erect a house in five to seven days and an ACDP government would have them do the job.

“Why have people been made to wait more than 12 years?” he asked.

Meshoe also criticised the size and quality of RDP houses, calling them “dehumanising”.

“The president has said that councillors are not delivering because of lack of capacity. He acknowledges that they have not been doing their jobs?” he asked.

“They are political appointments who know how to use an AK47 but do not know how to use a computer.”

Introducing his family at the meeting to emphasise his party’s stand on family values, Meshoe said his wife was always at his side and his children often accompanied him to political functions.

“Most leaders have a family problem. If they cannot lead their families, how can they lead the nation?”

Meshoe told the South African Press Association after the meeting that his party was optimistic about winning new ground in the Northern Cape.

“It’s a very religious population and with the demise of the New National Party there has been disappointment among voters that the African National Congress is a party only for blacks.” - Sapa

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