Supporters arrived at the Polokwane Showgrounds in Limpopo on Sunday in a party mood where Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille, parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, deputy federal chairperson Makashule Gana, youth leader Mbali Ntuli and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was expected to address the crowd.
Local musicians entertained supporters as they made their way inside ahead of the formal programme while others sang in small groups on the sidelines.
The DA painted Polokwane blue a day after ANC bigwigs visited the province in what was seen as a move to counter the official opposition’s manifesto launch, though the ANC has denied these claims.
DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane told the Mail & Guardian that choosing Limpopo – the province that gave the ANC its highest vote at 84,88% in 2009 – was to show confidence. The DA managed 3.48% of the vote, coming third after the Congress of the People's 7.53%.
"When you're growing, you want to demonstrate that you're growing," Maimane said. "Just because the ANC is strong in Limpopo, doesn’t mean we've got to concede the province."
Gana, one of the leaders that hails from Limpopo, said the DA was comfortable launching its manifesto in Polokwane because "we are a national party, we enjoy support in all communities. We are not a regional party and we are growing. We have to show that we have support across the country."
He added the DA had never launched its manifesto in the province before and that it made sense to give the province its chance to host the big election event.
Though Maimane was not willing to estimate the expected turnout, the M&G has learnt that the DA prepared chairs for 15 000 supporters.
The DA will use its track record in the Western Cape – the only province it governs – to try and convince the voter that it can deliver better than the ruling ANC.
Though Limpopo might warm up to the DA because of the pains its citizens suffered at the hands of the poor ANC-led administration for the past five years, the province is also one of the strongholds for newcomer Economic Freedom Fighters, whose leader Julius Malema comes from Seshego township just outside Polokwane.