/ 17 March 2014

Parties come out to play: ANC, DA knock on influencers’ doors

DA leader Helen Zille.
DA leader Helen Zille.

With just seven weeks to go before the May 7 general elections, students, churches and even royal families became the target of visits by high profile politicians this weekend.

ANC president Jacob Zuma took the campaign to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage) where reception was mixed. The party has, however, denied that Zuma was booed during a door-to-door campaign in Jacksonville in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The president also addressed hundreds of students and academics at the Nelson Mandela Municipality University (NMMU) on Saturday. He visited the Bantu Church of Christ in New Brighton, where he had lunch with representatives of different sectors.

"We have prioritised education. It is the key to any development," Zuma told the NMMU crowd. "Delivery is not an event, it's a process in this long journey of ours."

In the midst of his electioneering in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, Zuma responded to a proposal by Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille for the two of them to have an election debate on national television.

He told journalists that Zille was no president, and that she should debate with premiers – people at her level.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, was one of the senior ANC leaders – including national chairperson Baleka Mbete and secretary general Gwede Mantashe – who took the party's "good story" to the Free State.

ANC a 'tool in the hands of God'
At around the same time that Zuma was addressing students at NMMU, Ramaphosa did the same at the University of Free State; taking a break from campaigning door to door. There, he told the students about the importance of voting saying: "All people, regardless of party affiliation, must go out and vote". He also told students about how the ANC-led government promoted access to university education by putting billions aside to provide as many students as possible with bursaries.

On Sunday, Mantashe attended a church service in Parys where he told the congregation that the ruling party needed prayers.

Independent Newspapers quoted him as saying: "The ANC is a tool in the hands of God to change people's lives".

Meanwhile, Zille welcomed about 500 representatives of Barolong ba ga Modiboa, who joined the DA at Itsoseng in the North West.

Among those who joined the DA was Solomon Plaatje, the great grandson and namesake of the ANC's first secretary general, Sol Plaatje.

Loving SA enough
Prince Mothlako of Barolong ba ga Modiboa also joined the party "because he loves South Africa enough to choose a party that will work honestly for all", tweeted Zille.

DA national spokesperson and Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane led a march to a government building that he claimed was housing druglords in Eldorado Park.

Maimane committed himself to evicting drug lords from all government property and to the shut down drug dens, passing a provincial law that gives more power to drug action committees, community policing forums and nongovernmental organisations. Maimane added that if he was elected Gauteng premier, he would campaign for more cops in Eldorado Park, push for special drug and K9 units, and encourage the building of more treatment centres in drug-affected areas.

"We have had enough of broken promises from Premier [Nomvula Mokonyane] and President Zuma. Everything they said here in Eldorado Park was just a publicity exercise … What happened to the promise of evicting druglords when they are free to sell drugs to our children from a government building?" he asked.

Cope, IFP come out
​Zuma and a number of Cabinet ministers visited Eldorado Park in May 2013, when the president committed to lead a turnaround strategy for the community.

"We won't make promises and not act. We will act. I will drive the programme myself," he promised at the time.

Congress of the People (Cope) leader Mosiuoa Lekota, meanwhile, attended a church service in Johannesburg.  The party's national spokesperson, Johann Abrie, said Lekota was invited by church leaders in his capacity as Cope president.

"He is very popular among the clergy and church going people," said Abrie.

Otherwise, Cope has been busy with Independent Electoral Commission related matters, he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's leadership was campaigning in Tshwane, Pietermaritzburg and Durban, and conducted a door-to-door campaign in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal.