Almost three years after his death, former president Nelson Mandela’s name continues to dominate South African politics. With few days before the local government elections on August 3, political leaders from both the governing ANC and the main opposition party – the Democratic Alliance – have used Madiba’s name to garner support in what promises to be the most closely contested elections since 1994.
DA mayoral candidate in Johannesburg Herman Mashaba on Saturday went as far as to claim that Mandela would vote for the DA if he was still alive today.
Addressing thousands of DA supporters who attended the party’s final rally in Soweto on Saturday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane claimed the DA was the only party which could carry forward the values espoused by Madiba. The DA leader said he voted for Mandela because under his leadership the ANC was a better organisation than it is today.
But president Jacob Zuma and other alliance leaders hit back on Sunday –- painting the DA as a party that cared for white people while portraying the ANC as a party that cared for poor black South Africans.
For this, they believe Madiba would never have voted for the DA.
“Our beloved leader Isithwalandwe-Seaparankoe Comrade Nelson Mandela stated eloquently in December 2000 when he said: ‘The African National Congress was the only party that could deliver services. It is the organisation of the future. Nobody can deny the ANC that role.’
“Madiba also warned our people and our country about the DA, which runs Cape Town: ‘You must not be misled by a party that only cares for blacks on the eve of the elections. No white party can run this country … no matter how they cover up by getting a few black stooges, they (the whites) remain the bosses … they remain a white party.’” said Zuma, quoting a speech Mandela made to Cosatu in 2000.
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali, who delivered a message of support on behalf of the labour federation, concurred with Zuma on his views about the DA. “Workers can smell the enemy even when they sing our slogans,” said Ntshalintshali, in said in reference to the DA.
In a show of force, the ANC filled both the Ellis Park and other Johannesburg stadiums with a combined number of over 90 000 supporters. Zuma used the Siyanqoba to showcase the party’s successes in the metros that are under its control, including Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
“We have done exceptionally well to build our metro cities and we are proud of their performance,” said Zuma.
Despite different election polls showing the ANC could lose some of its metros to opposition parties, Zuma said he was confident his party would retain all the metros because people knew the ANC was the only party that would deliver services to them.
He said the Johannesburg metro, the headquarters of the ANC, has received many international accolades for the good work that has been done by the ANC government to transform this city.
“Johannesburg is the gateway to the South African economy. It is a great African city, a true African metropolis where people from many parts of the world gather and live. It is a financial hub and a thriving industrial centre”.
Zuma also sang praises about Tshwane, which was on fire last month after protesters burned property in protest against the ANC’s decision to put Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate in Tshwane. The ANC’s own internal poll shows it could lose Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
“Our well-run capital city, Tshwane Municipality, has done very well in investing in youth development. The city has created a project called Tshepo-ten thousand, a youth economic empowerment and job creation programme where the city recruited and trained ten thousand youth to enable them to provide goods and services to city,” said Zuma.
The ANC president also promised the ANC would bring down corruption in the next five years.
“Good governance is the cornerstone of a well-run city or town. The ANC wants an end to all forms of corruption and will diligently pursue all those who are corrupt. The ANC will ensure that all Local Municipalities, District Municipalities and Metropolitan cities achieve unqualified audits and spend their budgets on what has been approved in councils,” said Zuma.
South African Communist Party boss Blade Nzimande warned the ANC not to take the support it was getting from the working class for granted.
“Our support (to ANC) is not a blank cheque. We expect no less from the ANC councillors,” said Nzimande.
Party veterans including Winnie Madikizela Mandela and Andrew Mlangeni, were among the dignitaries, who attended the rally. Madikizela Mandela wheeled onto the pitch in a golf cart, to loud cheers from thousands of ANC supporters.