Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

THE African National Congress says its is confident that it will win "a significant majority" of votes in the contested Mathole region of Eastern Cape.

Speaking on the eve of today's rally, where the party is to launch its election manifesto, a confident Carl Niehaus dismissed claims by the newly formed Congress of the People (Cope) that it had made major inroads into the region to the extent of upsetting the ANC apple cart.

The ANC spokesman said the political situation in the region had not change and "the ANC was still going to win with a significant majority in the Mathole region and in Eastern Cape as a whole".

He said it was not "inconceivable "that the ANC could win a two-third majority in the coming elections".

The Mathole region - the ANC's largest in the country - has been in the news, with Cope claiming to have made serious inroads into the area.

The region is also the home of Cope co-founder Mluleki George.

Despite Niehaus' dismissal the ANC has been working very hard in the area, with party election manager Fikile Mbalula leading an intensive electioneering campaign.

This included block-by-block mobilisation as well as house-to-house visits.

Meanwhile the party expected to present a show of force at Absa Stadium tomorrow, where its president, Jacob Zuma, will make the January 8 statement as part of celebrating of its 97th anniversary.

Most of the ANC leadership is expected to be in the city tonight, with Zuma hosting a business dinner.

Yesterday Niehaus said the ANC had proved to be a versatile party, which had "in the past 15 years shown its ability to adapt to changing political circumstances while remaining committed to the principles of nonracialism and concern for the poor".

He said the party's election manifesto would focus on the key areas of crime, job creation, poverty alleviation, health and education.