The Economic Freedom Fights’ (EFF) Gauteng Premier candidate, Dali Mpofu, says his party will not be deterred by scare tactics similar to those of the apartheid government.
Mpofu was referring to Saturday morning’s incident in which the party’s tents and parts of the stage set up for an EFF rally at the Sam Ntuli Stadium in Thokoza on the East Rand were allegedly burnt down.
Political parties intensified their campaigning in various parts of the country on Saturday ahead of the May 7 general election.
EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi earlier said: “During the early hours of this morning, Saturday, people came and petrol bombed the marquees, stage, sound system and chairs. No arrests have been made, but we have opened a case with police.”
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 events,” says Mpofu.
The party suspected that African National Congress members may have been behind the incident.
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.”
We are not going to back down, we will stand our ground and continue with events
Mthembu 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.
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. Residents, some in ANC attire, took out their cellphones to snap pictures of Zuma.
Residents told Zuma of their problems, and he 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. He paused and said: “These are our future voters.”
He also handed them African National Congress 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 also hugged the old woman and her grandchildren, before leaving.
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.
The ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal 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.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Zuma improperly benefited from R246 million security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead which included a swimming pool, an amphitheatre and a cattle kraal. Zuma said he will not repay the money because he did not ask for the upgrades.
Other leaders on election campaigns on Saturday were deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, the party’s chairperson Baleka Mbete, DA leader Helen Zille, and EFF leader Julius Malema.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille was also on the campaign trail in KwaZulu-Natal. She took her party’s campaign to Phoenix, Chatsworth and Wentworth in Durban, canvassing for the so-called “minority vote”.
She also welcomed three councillors from the Minority Front and a COPE youth leader who defected to the DA. Party parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, Deputy Chairperson Makashule Gana and Youth leader Mbali Ntuli are among those participating in public meetings and door-to-door visits to engage with voters in Durban. – Additional Reporting SABC