Race to win top metros hots up

DA, EFF hope to cash in on ANC's weaknesses

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking to residents of Tembisa during a door-to-door campaign by the ANC ahead of the local municipality elections.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking to residents of Tembisa during a door-to-door campaign by the ANC ahead of the local municipality elections.
Image: Supplied/MYANC

The race to win key Gauteng metros in the upcoming municipal elections roared to life at the weekend with rallies and campaign trails as well as manifesto launches that are expected to reach a frenzied crescendo when the ANC unveils its promises today.

Following the relaxing of Covid-19 regulations to allow political party campaigning, the ANC, the DA and EFF have been criss-crossing the vital battleground trio of Gauteng metros – Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane – but avoided crossing paths.

Yesterday, the EFF held its manifesto launch at Ghandhi Square in central Johannesburg while the ANC, which has taken aim at Tshwane, is set to launch its own in Pretoria, where President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to point the line of march for his party.

The trio of metros were key battlegrounds during the 2016 local government elections, which saw the ANC failing to retain all of them with majority seats. Instead, the party was forced to govern through a coalition in Ekurhuleni, where Ramaphosa took his campaign trail yesterday.

But the focus will today turn to Tshwane, where the governing party is pulling all stops to avoid the repeat of the  2016 outcome that left it with a bloodied nose.

ANC Tshwane regional chairperson Kgosi Maepa said the party had been hard at work trying to recover from the poor voter support which had been fuelled by internal leadership fights over the running of the metro.

“Our internal problems of contestation are what cost us. We have been asking the people of Tshwane to forgive us and said we have learnt from our mistakes and we want to correct them. We can see that the confidence has returned because in the 11 by-elections that we had here, we won nine,” Maepa.

“We were humbled by that decision and we will not disappoint. We are already on the streets in our efforts to regain the confidence of the people of Tshwane. We are pushing for a better voter turnout because that is what cost us.”

The party has expressed confidence that the decision to hold the manifesto launch in Tshwawne will bolster its efforts to reclaim the capital city.

Tshwane ANC regional secretary Eugene Modise said the presence of ANC national leaders in the metro today would help boost ANC electoral prospects as they “have their own charisma and understand the ANC better than anyone”.

“They have got the experience and the wisdom. When they speak to the electorate, they are able to articulate the position of the ANC and persuade the electorate. They will increase our electoral fortunes,” Modise said.

But the ANC faces an uphill battle, with the DA fully in charge of the government in Tshwane through a coalition with smaller parties.

Speaking during the DA manifesto launch on Saturday, Tshwane mayor and DA mayoral candidate Randal Williams insisted that the party had restored sound governance and accelerated delivery in the metro after taking over from the ANC, including after he became mayor late last year.

Williams said this included the repairing of over 150,000 street lights and the filling of over 30,000 potholes over the past 11 months of his mayorship. The DA has begged the electorate to give it five uninterrupted years in the trio Gauteng metros to demonstrate its governance, services and financial management of municipalities.

The EFF, on the other hand, which emerged as a kingmaker after the last municipal elections, is banking on the influence it has, particularly in Johannesburg, to win more ballots.

Delivering the EFF’s manifesto yesterday, party leader Julius Malema said the Red Berets had used minority seats in key metros, including Johannesburg, to push for some of its manifesto promises, including in-sourcing of security and cleaning staff, which he said would increase after the elections.

In Johannesburg, the ANC is facing another hurdle to win back lost support, with growing discontent over intermittent power cuts in Soweto, where more than 4-million residents live.

The death of mayor Jolidee Matongo this month is also expected to add to the ANC’s headache,  while the DA and EFF are looking to capitalise on the discontent and increase their support to take control of the jewel metro.

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