Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Saturday said he is “not concerned” about a poll showing a drop in party support because the party is growing in different communities.
“I am actually quite confident,” he said in Johannesburg, following a two-day sitting of the DA’s federal executive.
“If you start to look at a poll now that was taken a year ahead of an election, because technically they would have done their research a while ago, I think let’s focus on the business of saying we do our own work and we are confident that we are growing in communities and we are certainly looking forward to next year.”
According to preliminary findings by global market research firm Ipsos, the party was now polling at 20% support, two percentage points lower than what it achieved during the 2014 general election, HuffPost reported at the end of last month.
Policy uncertainty, questions around leadership and the battle with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille were cited as factors contributing to this decline, it was reported.
The party lost significant support in four Western Cape by-elections the past two months. They retained the lead in those wards, but lost between 10% and 17% in all four wards respectively.
DA Western Cape deputy provincial leader Albert Fritz said on Saturday that they would continue with good, proper governance, and a focus on service delivery, “because people believe in us”.
This was despite “all those little characters going… burning up there and the same people appear at all these land invasions”.
The province has been beset by numerous land and housing protests in areas including Hermanus and Vrygrond.
DA sets its sights on Gauteng, Northern Cape
Leadership in the province was also shocked this week after two DA councillors supported an ANC-sponsored motion to vote out Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies.
Bouw-Spies is the fourth DA mayor to face a successful motion of no confidence this year.
Nonetheless, the party has its eyes on Gauteng and the Northern Cape, as part of “non-negotiable” targets set by the federal executive.
It resolved to become the biggest party in these provinces and form provincial governments, along with retaining the Western Cape with an increased majority.
Maimane announced that they also planned to substantially increase the party’s percentage of the national votes cast.
“This means that the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, the North West and the Eastern Cape will contribute significantly to the growth targets of the party based on our strong structures and electoral performance.”
It was also resolved that all DA MPs would spend a 75-day period interacting with voters in their constituencies and beyond.
Targeting the youth vote
The party plans to officially launch its national campaign next month. Part of its core focus was on attracting young people to vote.
“Over 50% of our youth are without jobs. That means half of the country’s most productive workforce is unemployed,” Maimane said.
He said a DA-government would provide access to an industry training programme for school-leavers, provide free higher education for students who were unable to afford it, and grow the economy to “enable true access to jobs and other job opportunities”.
“Indeed, as a nation we have all hoped a Ramaphosa presidency would yield positive results for our economy.
“However, the latest GDP and unemployment figures tell South Africans what they already know: an ANC government can never grow our economy at the rate we need to create new, permanent jobs for the almost 10 million unemployed South Africans.”
Maimane said the fight for an alternative, post-ANC South Africa was in full swing. — News24