Parties step up electioneering as poll nears

Political parties have stepped up their rhetoric ahead of the elections, with ANC president Jacob Zuma saying a vote for a party other than the ANC was a wasted vote.

Addressing supporters in Bhambanana in northern KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma said his party would win the elections overwhelmingly.

Urging South Africans to vote, Zuma said it would be easy for the ANC to take decisions and deliver if it had a massive majority in government.

“If you vote for another party it will be like throwing your vote into the bush because it won’t make any difference,” Zuma said.

He took a swipe at opposition parties, saying they had failed to come up with manifestos different from that of the ruling party.

“They just say vote for us so that they can reduce ANC power. When they have conferences, they just discuss the ANC,” he said.

He urged amakhosi [traditional healers] to be part of the development projects in their area.

“You need to tell us what you need to happen in your area. The ANC believes that rural development is important,” he said.

Jeff Vilane, the ANC member of Parliament for the area, earlier said the party had managed to persuade ten of the 18 amakhosi in the area into the ANC fold.

The people in Bambanana, an area struggling with water shortages, asked Zuma not to forget them when he took over as president.

They asked him to make sure that a multimillion-rand water project aimed at providing residents with running water was completed.

Local government minister Mike Mabuyakhulu assured residents they would soon have water.

Stop Zuma
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance on Monday unveiled its new election poster marking the final phase of the party’s campaign for the April 22 elections.

The poster urges voters to “Stop Zuma”, and the ruling party from obtaining a two-thirds majority.

Addressing a crowd of DA supporters outside Parliament, leader Helen Zille said the success of the country’s democracy depended on preventing the ANC getting the two-thirds majority it needed to change the Constitution.

So far, the “controlling clique” in the ANC had already disbanded the Scorpions, fired former National Prosecuting Authority head Vusi Pikoli, and “engineered” the premature release from prison of Zuma’s benefactor Schabir Shaik.

“All these steps have been taken to prevent the successful investigation and prosecution of corruption charges against Zuma and his cohorts.
With this background, it is clear that Zuma will stop at nothing to undermine the Constitution and the rule of law to enrich and protect himself and his cronies,” Zille said.

Given the events of the past year, it would be grossly irresponsible for voters to entrust Zuma with a two-thirds majority, when this would predictably lead to the demise of constitutionalism in South Africa.

The ANC had already threatened to revoke property rights under the guise of expediting land reform, and warned of its plans to undermine press freedom by instituting a media tribunal.

Last week, Zuma had insinuated that judges should not be independent, but accountable to the government, she said.

The extent of the ANC’s plans to change the Constitution and entrench its powers were clear from a draft National Treasury Constitution amendment Bill, she said. This showed the ANC wanted to reduce municipalities to administrative arms of central government.

“This will enable a centralised ANC to severely limit the mandate of elected local government, especially where the ANC does not govern and where local authorities legitimately refuse to implement ANC policies,” Zille said.

If the ANC managed to pass this constitutional amendment, giving itself a range of reasons to undermine local government, it could effectively nullify voters’ choice and enforce ANC policy from the centre.

“The ANC has seen how the DA is successfully implementing open, opportunity-driven policies in the City of Cape Town, and other municipalities that we govern.

“The ANC knows that we have used the Constitution to defend our sites of local government against illegal interference and power abuse by the ANC.

“They are now seeking to reduce these defence mechanisms. They want to do this well before the local government elections in 2011, when they know that towns and cities across South Africa will vote DA.”

Zille said it was therefore imperative that voters kept the ANC below a two-thirds majority nationally, so that it could not change the Constitution to “continue the power abuse designed to enrich its leaders and shield them from the consequences”. - Sapa

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