ANC skips Wits election debate

The ANC was absent from a debate among political parties about economic policies held on Wednesday at the University of Witwatersrand.

However, for a brief time their supporters made their presence felt. Before the debate started, a few dozen supporters stood up in the half-filled cavernous Wits Great Hall and started singing and dancing that “we are with Zuma” and “the cowards will run away”.

On the other side of the hall, Cope supporters turned the performance into a sing-off as a smaller group also got up to sing and dance.

However after the panellists were announced and it became clear that the ANC was not represented, dozens of the party’s supporters got up and left the hall, one even waving goodbye.

IFP representative Narend Singh commented on the students’ action saying “It’s also good to be a good listener as well, not always talking.”

The United Democratic Movement, Freedom Front Plus, Democratic Alliance and Cope were also represented at the debate.

Political analyst Daryl Glaser called the ANC the “massive big elephant in the room” saying it would have been “very nice [if it had been there] to answer for itself”.

Debate organiser Thulani Fukade told the audience “the ANC was invited but they couldn’t make it because they apparently had a manifesto launch at Gallagher Estate today”.

“All of them?” muttered one of the panellists.

The Dalai Lama popped up in DA representative Sejamothopo Motau’s speech.

Referring to the government’s decision not to grant the Dalai Lama a visa, he declared: “We are no longer the darlings of the world”.

This meant, he said, South African needed to carefully consider their vote on Aprial 22.

“If they [the world] think we are sliding they will punish us for that.”

Anton Alberts from the FF+ tied a reference to the Dalai Lama to economics.

“We must not stop the Dalai Lama from entering the country. We must stop Chinese dumping that destroys the local industry,” he said.

The UDM’s Bantu Holomisa used some of his time at the podium to suggest a possible Schabir Shaik conspiracy theory.

He asked if it was possible that “Shaik threatened to sink the ANC if he was not released prior to elections”.

He said Schabir’s brother, Chippy, was “at the heart” of the arms deal and could be in possession of incriminating evidence.

Cope’s representative JJ Tabane said he did not mind if he was considered an “alarmist”, but he truly believed the “SA Communist Party-tainted ANC policies” meant if the ANC returned to power, South Africa would experience a “communist takeover”.

“The world watches us as we slide towards something that has never worked anywhere,” he said.

Tabane said in fact there was “no need to reinvent the wheel” with current economic policies, only to change their implementation.

“In order for us to make the economy work we have to change the driver and not the car,” he said,

“The current unlicensed driver cannot be allowed to further ride our economic policy.”

Both Cope and the FF+ said agricultural development was a key issue in the country’s economy.

“The farmer has been made enemy number one,” said Alberts.

He said when land was expropriated it often then went to waste and animals died from neglect.

On the other hand, he said, farmworkers could not be exploited.

Balance had to be found towards increasing food production, export and ensuring rural development.
- Sapa

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