Cash-strapped ACDP down but not out

The African Christian Democratic Party will do well in the local government elections despite “battling with resources”, lacking visibility and not having a single municipal ward currently under its control, its leader Kenneth Meshoe said this week.

Conceding that the party has a low profile, Meshoe said that “some people even think we are not contesting the elections because we don’t have enough posters around”.

He could not say how many wards the party would contest in the May 18 poll but insisted that “we are going to ensure that we do well in most municipalities. You will shake my hand and say ‘congratulations’.

“We will properly train our party agents to be more vigilant, because in the previous election we lost votes even in areas where we have members.” The party once had members of provincial legislatures in “most of the provinces, excluding Mpumalanga and North West. We are going to ensure that we regain what we’ve lost.”

Asked why voters would support a party that has been losing support, he said that in the 2009 election that was due to confusion caused by the Democratic Alliance’s “Stop Zuma” posters. “Some of our members — found themselves defending Zuma against what they viewed as a racial issue,” Meshoe said.

“However, recently we have seen an increase in terms of general members and people who have shown an interest in the ACDP.”

He said that, in contrast with other parties, the ACDP offered councillors “that are caring, honest and accountable. Our councillors won’t steal from you. They are responsive, ­diligent and have a mandate to come to you.”

This was because the party’s candidates had Christian values, although the ACDP would not invoke the Scripture and biblical principles, he said. “I was on the campaign trail in Cape Town and one of the houses we visited was an ACDP-supporting Muslim family. They said we stand for the same values they stand for and they want leaders they can actually trust.”

Pressed on the ACDP’s election platform, he said the party planned to approach business to develop the skills of workers in exchange for tax rebates and to engage financial institutions to provide loans for small enterprises.

“Currently, business is not playing an engine role in skills development because they get nothing in return,” he said, adding that promoting small business would help reduce crime and unemployment and “make people proud of making a living for themselves—some of the people who depend on government grants are not proud of that”.

Explaining the ACDP’s campaign slogan, “Let’s fix this”, he said that the party wanted to tackle poorly maintained roads and “rubbish bags all over residential areas”.

“The maintenance programme in municipalities is ineffective. We’re saying, ‘Why don’t you bring in the ACDP to fix this?’ “We can take a lesson from sport: if a player is not performing in the field of play, the coach has a choice to take him out. “Rather than burning tyres in the street, we’re saying to our people, ‘Change the party that is not performing’,” Meshoe said.

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