Parties intensify campaigns ahead of elections

Political parties intensified their campaigning in various parts of the country ahead of the May 7 general election. (Gallo)

Political parties intensified their campaigning in various parts of the country ahead of the May 7 general election. (Gallo)

Political parties intensified their campaigning in various parts of the country on Saturday ahead of the May 7 general election.

Some campaigns ran smoothly while the scheduled rally for the Economic Freedom Fighters in Thokoza, south of Johannesburg, was allegedly sabotaged in a pre-dawn petrol bomb attack.

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the stage and marquee that had been set up at the Sam Ntuli stadium was torched.

"During the early hours of this morning [Saturday], people came and petrol bombed the marquees, stage, sound system and chairs," he said.

"No arrests have been made, but we have opened a case with police."

The party's premier candidate Dali Mpofu was initially scheduled to address the rally at 10am, but it was moved to 2pm because of the incident. Police were monitoring the area.

"We are not going to back down, we will stand our ground and continue with event."

'Unfair accusation'
The party suspected that ANC members may have been behind it.

"Police and the EFF were tipped off [on Friday] about threats of disruption by ANC members [but] we thought the disruption would happen during the event," Ndlozi told Sapa.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu rejected the accusation.

"We never do such things. This is an unfair accusation," he said. "It is totally uncalled-for and anyone who burnt that marquee must be found and prosecuted."

He said the EFF's accusation amounted to negative politicking, which went against the Electoral Act.

Meanwhile, the ANC's top brass addressed campaigns in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Sasolburg, Newcastle, Ntuzuma, Khosi Bay, Parys, and Cala in the Eastern Cape.

Zuma's election-campaign trail
President Jacob Zuma kicked off his campaign in the Zamdela informal settlement in Sasolburg, in the Free State.

Residents lined the perimeter of the settlement and cheered as Zuma arrived, some in ANC attire, took out their cellphones to snap pictures of him.
They told Zuma of their problems, and Zuma reassured them that their complaints would be addressed. As Zuma made his way through the settlement he was stopped by a group of children, who cheered him on. Zuma paused and said: "these are our future voters."

He handed them ANC T-shirts. Zuma then sat next to an elderly woman on a crate outside her shack. She told him that she lived in the shack with her seven grandchildren, some of whom did not go to school or have birth certificates.

Zuma told her to send them to school on Monday.

He hugged her, as well as her grandchildren, before going on his way.

ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize headed to Khosi Bay in northern KwaZulu-Natal and addressed traditional leaders, teachers and nurses. He also visited shopping centres as part of the party's door-to-door effort.

"The ANC is poised for an overwhelming victory," he said during his visit.

ANC's future plans
ANC spokesperson Bongani Tembe said the party had been carrying out its own snap survey since the start of their election trail last year, and their results showed the ANC would win.

"The majority of people say they will vote for the ANC. When we do door-to-door visits, we asked whether they will vote for the ANC."

During the visits, the party takes down complaints, and tells residents about the ANC's future plans.

"Our election campaign throughout the country has reached a very high gear, and we are now consolidating our support and reminding people to go and vote," said Tembe.

"The people we interact with do not raise the issue of the Nkandla report. All they say is that they want service delivery and tell us of their problems," said Tembe.

Other leaders due to address election campaigns on Saturday were Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, the party's chairperson Baleka Mbete, Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille and EFF leader Julius Malema. – Sapa

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