President Jacob Zuma joined the campaign trail for the ANC while the DA launched its attempt at owning a part of the struggle heritage. Heckling disturbed Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings and two municipalities want to be in Mpumalanga instead of Limpopo. The loudest politician in the country, Cope's Anele Mda, may be the next to leave the party. By SIMON WILLIAMSON.
President Jacob Zuma, fresh off a week of campaigning in Soweto, Freedom Day speeches and wedding celebrations, has said municipal services will improve after the local government elections on 18 May. Zuma rejected the “one-size-fits-all” policy and said municipalities needed more effective and direct support. In spite of these pronouncements, he said he was proud of the achievements of the government in the 17 years since the birth of democracy in South Africa.
Zuma’s Freedom Day speech, surprisingly including a quote from Thabo Mbeki, mentioned some of the progress South Africa has made in the 17 years since 1994. These included 93% of households having access to clean drinking water (up from 62%), electricity (from 36% to 84%), free basic services for many, social grants, expansion of education systems, school-feeding schemes and so on, although he emphasised that more work was still required.
Read more: Politicsweb
Unsurprisingly, the South African Communist Party backs the ANC in the upcoming local government elections. In a statement bashing the usual suspects (DA, the media, BEE, corruption, neo-liberalism and capitalism), the SACP called on voters to turn out on 18 May, saying “Only the ANC-led alliance victory will lay conditions for the exercise of people's power!”
Read more: Politicsweb
In a move sure to score the ANC more votes in North West, the provincial government there wants the state vehicle speed limit lowered to 100kmh to reduce accidents and fuel consumption. Emergency and (naturally) executive vehicles would be excluded from the proposals. The government also lamented the age of the province’s fleet, saying it hadn’t been upgraded for three years and could hurt service delivery.
Zuma spent Tuesday door-to-door campaigning in Soweto. During the visit, ANC councillors said development in the area, citing the example of Maponya Mall, was due solely to the ANC. Zuma’s visit started at the Hector Pieterson Memorial before he visited Dube Hostel and Nelson Mandela’s home in Vilakazi Street, where he was given a tour by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. During a speech Zuma said a vote for any party other than the ANC would be a silent vote, and “It [Cape Town] is so entrenched in apartheid. Die tyd het gekom (the time has come).” The time for what.. well we're not sure...
Service delivery protests continued in the Johannesburg informal settlement of Zandspruit with residents blocking Beyers Naude Drive with burning tyres. The protests were due to lack of housing and sanitation. Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi spoke to residents and agreed to meet with them on Sunday to discuss their concerns. But public service delivery qualms are not what the ANC needs during the election campaign, particularly as Zandspruit falls under the much-criticised City of Joburg municipality.
The DA was the first to enjoy a Freedom Day rally as it celebrated a day early. In a keynote speech in Mamelodi, Helen Zille grappled with apartheid and its consequences: “There is the material cost of the past, and its name is poverty. We cannot claim freedom while millions of our compatriots are in need of life's bare necessities.” And “The second component of apartheid's legacy is not material. It is emotional.” Zille also said, “The struggle [against apartheid’s ramifications] continues” (Vavi must have platzed) and the DA may not be perfect, but with more public participation it would improve. The party has taken a conscious decision this election not to let the ANC own “struggle language” and heritage, and it will be interesting to see how it affects results come 18 May.
The Social Justice Coalition, a community organisation based in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha, has criticised the DA-run municipality for the lack of sanitation in the area. The SJC quoted statistics by an organisation called the Water Dialogues which concluded that 500,000 Capetonians do not have access to basic sanitation. On this premise, the SJC planned a protest march yesterday to the mayor’s office in Cape Town.
Read more: Politicsweb
The DA leader in Free State, Roy Jankielsohn, made a Freedom Day speech in which he said South Africans’ political rights to freedom were accepted throughout South African society and focus should now be placed on socio-economic rights. Jankielsohn used the golden streets of Midvaal as an example saying the DA-run municipality had reduced CBD crime by 70%, has the lowest unemployment in Gauteng, attracted foreign investment (including Heiniken), youth leadership programmes and infrastructure upgrades (reservoirs and libraries). He ended his speech with, “I ask voters in Free State to deliver us from dependency, corruption and poor service delivery, and give us the freedom we owe to future generations of this province and country. This is not our right, it is our responsibility.”
Read more: Politicsweb
National spokeswoman, Lindiwe Mazibuko (who accompanies Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille on the DA's election posters), has challenged ANC-run municipalities to transparency and accountability tests. Mazibuko says since the DA began leading Cape Town in 2006 all mayoral committee and council meetings have been open to the public and all tenders worth more than R200,000 are up for public scrutiny. “The DA challenges the ANC to become more transparent: Open your metro ‘Mayco’ meetings, open your metro tender award meetings and tell metro residents who your mayoral candidates are.”
Read more: Politicsweb
Tony Ehrenreich, Western Cape Cosatu leader and ANC mayoral candidate for the City of Cape Town, has blasted the city council after Cosatu was forced to move its May Day rally to Athlone Stadium because of R1 million added to what he said were fees agreed earlier in April. “We are calling on Cosatu members not to go to the Cape Town Stadium on May Day in protest of[sic] the DA's unwillingness to let the stadium be enjoyed by working families.” Ehrenreich said a formal complaint would be laid with the South African Local Government Association.
IFP councillor Oscar Maseku’s Freedom Day address at the Union Buildings festivities was hampered by heckling from the crowd (more on that later), but he did manage to say the IFP held South Africa’s freedoms dear and that strengthening opposition politics and public institutions would protect South Africa's democracy.
Firebrand Anele Mda may be the next person to leave Cope, although she is remaining mum on the subject. Over the weekend, Mda blasted her party on etv’s “The Justice Factor”, criticising it for being absent on the national political scene. The party’s Limpopo chairman, Sello Moloto, is also expected to leave the party, having been offered an ambassadorship in Mozambique.
Read more: IOL
The UDM also took part in Freedom Day celebrations at the Union Buildings with an address from Thandi Nontenja, the UDM’s treasurer. She said, “We may be free politically, but we are not free economically and this is a challenge that needs our government's attention. It is a shame that 17 years in[sic] democracy we still see such service delivery protests.”
The much-publicised heckling of DA and IFP speechmakers at Freedom Day celebrations was quelled, to an extent, by arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile who was programme director for the day. Mashatile said, “No, no no.” and “Please, let's allow speakers to say a few words and sit. This heckling is taking a lot of our time.” Sej Motau, the DA’s speaker, cut his speech short while Oscar Maseko of the IFP was also heckled. Allegedly, no other speaker was disturbed after Mashatile spoke to the crowd, although we can't find a list of who spoke from then on.
The national assembly will consider the nomination of a judge to sit on the board of the Independent Electoral Commission. The nominated judge will replace Judge President Herbert Msimang who died recently.
A newly-formed organisation, the Mpumalanga Party, is campaigning on the premise that it will incorporate the municipalities of Moutse and KwaDlawulale (currently in Limpopo) back into Mpumalanga if it wins the local government elections. Although we respect their ambitions, we are pretty certain this would have to happen at national level. DM
Photo: African National Congress (ANC) supporters arrive for the Freedom Day celebrations in Pretoria April 27, 2011. South Africa celebrates 17 years since the first democratic elections on April 27 1994, which voted the African National Congress and its then-leader, Nelson Mandela, into power. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.