Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

The ANC intends taking the election war to its political foe, the Congress of the People, by launching its manifesto in the highly contested Amathole region in Eastern Cape.

Cope leader Mluleki George used to be chairman of the region, which includes East London, Alice and Butterworth as well as the surrounding villages.

Yesterday ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said the ANC would launch its election manifesto in the region.

He called it "the home of the ANC".

The launch is to coincide with the ANC's 97th anniversary on January 10 and 11.

The Amathole region is the ANC's largest base but was racked by division after a decision by some of its leadership to support a third term of party office for ex-president Thabo Mbeki.

The formation of Cope saw key Mbeki supporters, including George, district secretary Siphiwe Nthuli, provincial executive member Andile Nkuhlu and former premier Nosimo Balindlela, resigning from the ANC to join the new party.

Last week the ANC announced that the region's executive council had been disbanded.

Yesterday Mantashe outlined the ANC's election manifesto, which included the extension of social grants to 18-year-olds and the extension of the school nutrition scheme to secondary and high schools.

Mantashe said the ANC's aim, after winning next year's election, was to accelerate change in various fields.

He said the ANC's key areas of focus in its next term of government would be education, health, fighting crime, creating work as well as rural development and agrarian reform.

He said to address poverty South Africa should change from a "net importer of food to a net exporter of food".

Such a situation, he said, could lead to a decrease in food prices that will benefit the poor.