‘White’ party lures disaffected black South African voters
Democratic Alliance is confident it can win provinces from the ANC
Democratic Alliance members chant party slogans during a march in downtown Johannesburg. Photograph: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
Democratic Alliance Gauteng Premier Candidate, Mmusi Maimane talks to a young girl while he launches the final phase of the DA’s posters for the South Africa general elections in Johannesburg. Photograph: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
The rain that drenches Johannesburg does not discourage the large group of Democratic Alliance supporters from taking to the city’s streets to deliver a pre-election message to the ruling African National Congress party.
Led by the DA’s premier candidate for Gauteng province, Mmusi Maimane, up to 2,000 supporters march to the offices of the provincial premier, the ANC’s Nomvula Paula Mokonyane, to tell her to start packing her bags.
At every turn the ANC likes to deride the DA as a predominately white party only interested in looking after that minority group’s interests, but the overwhelming majority of those at this rally are either black or of mixed race.
Fuelled by anger and disappointment with the ANC, they have travelled from across the province to lend their weight to the campaigning efforts of the “Blue Machine”, as the the DA describes itself.
As they march through downtown Johannesburg they carry signs saying “together for jobs”, and sing songs about alleged corruption within the upper echelons of the ANC leadership.
Shirley Adams, a lady in her 50s from Soweto whose difficult life is etched on her face in the form of deep wrinkles and a toothless grimace, says she and her friends have come to the rally because they are desperate for political change.
“Back in 1994 I was an ANC supporter but for the past 10 years I have voted for the DA. The ANC does nothing for us — it just wants our vote so its people can stay in power. The DA comes into our area and tries to help, we only see people from the ANC at election times.
“We want jobs and we want services, it is 20 years now since apartheid was defeated and we want a better life. The ANC has not delivered that for us,” she says.
With less than two weeks to go to South Africa’s fifth democratic general election the DA believes that if it can mobilise voters disaffected with the ANC it can wrestle control of Gauteng, the country’s economic heartland, from the former liberation movement.
“We can win the Western Cape [province] again, and we can keep the ANC below 50 per cent in Gauteng,” DA leader Helen Zille said yesterday.
“It is by no means certain… but it is possible if every person who stands together for change and together for jobs turns out to vote for the DA on May 7th,” she added.
The DA has positioned itself as the only real alternative to the ANC, whose public standing under South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has been eroded in recent years by numerous scandals around corruption and cronyism.