South Africa

2019 ELECTIONS

DA punts control of rail and policing in Western Cape as party launches provincial manifesto

DA punts control of rail and policing in Western Cape as party launches provincial manifesto
DA leader Mmusi Maimane addresses the crowd during the party’s Western Cape manifesto launch in Bellville on 2 March 2019. Maimane was mobbed by supporters who chanted his name as he approached the podium. (Photo: Sandisiwe Shoba)

The DA in the Western Cape launched its provincial manifesto a week after the party launched its national manifesto. The party is determined to keep the ANC out of the province for the third consecutive election. Alan Winde, the man chosen to take over from Helen Zille as premier after the May election, was introduced as the party’s headline act. Winde says two of the province’s key services — rail transport and policing — should be under its control.

The DA wants to retain its crown jewel — the Western Cape — in the upcoming election. At the provincial manifesto launch on Saturday in Bellville, Cape Town, the party played to provincial concerns: Vote for us, and we’ll make sure rail and policing become a provincial mandate, and we’ll make it better than under the ANC national government.

On an overcast Saturday at the Bellville Velodrome, about 24km from the steps of the Western Cape Legislature, the party and its premier candidate launched its official provincial manifesto.

Dubbed its “plan of action”, the manifesto is a 15-page document outlining the party’s plans should it retain the province in a highly contested region that could see former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s Good party and Ramaphoria bite into the DA’s 59.3% majority in the 2014 national and provincial elections.

But as DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela told the thousands of blue-clad supporters that “we are here today to renew the contract we have with the people of the Western Cape”, the message was clear: DA voters — dubbed “DA activists” need to vote and encourage other voters for the party.

DA voters – dubbed ‘DA activists’ sing the national anthem at the party’s Western Cape manifesto launch in Bellville on 2 March 2019. (Photo: Sandisiwe Shoba)

While the audience — which included many MPs, councillors and several MECs dressed in blue shirts — clapped hands, shouted and sang along as they tried to take pictures of DA leaders such as party leader Mmusi Maimane and former party leader Helen Zille.

Zille bade party supporters farewell after her decade-long stint as Western Cape premier.

My tyd is verby (My time is over). It is time for me to say goodbye now,” said Zille, as she spoke to the audience in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa.

Zille spoke extensively on the progress the party has made in the province and fully endorsed premier candidate Alan Winde as her replacement after the May elections.

Outgoing Premier Helen Zille bids DA supporters farewell after her decade-long stint as premier. (Photo: Sandisiwe Shoba)

Under Alan Winde as premier, he will fight for a for a provincial police service because we don’t have one,” said Zille, as the audience clapped and sang for her as she departed the stage.

When it was time for Winde to take the stage, he was greeted with singing, clapping, several shouts of “we love you” and at least one person shouting “we love you daddy” — making it clear: This was a concert and Winde was the headline act.

The Western Cape’s ‘New Dawn’ didn’t begin last year. Our new dawn began 10 years ago in 2009,” said Winde, who referred to the party’s provincial win at the 2009 polls, when Zille was elected to her first term in office.

We didn’t have “nine wasted years” in the Western Cape. While the ANC was taking our country backwards, we were taking this province forward,” said Winde.

Winde, who has been in the Western Cape DA provincial legislature caucus since 1999, has served under Zille for the duration of her premiership. He is the MEC for Community Safety and has previously been MEC for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture.

He was announced as the premier candidate by party leader Mmusi Maimane in September 2018 and has the support of provincial leader Madikizela.

DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela addresses supporters at the Velodrome in Bellville. (Photo: Sandisiwe Shoba)

At Saturday’s rally, he was clear: He wants rail and policing to be a provincial mandate and not a national mandate.

The only thing that is stopping us from delivering more in the Western Cape is the corrupt and broken national government,” announced Winde to the supporters in the crowd.

Winde said “crime is a responsibility of the national government. The SAPS are controlled from the government in Pretoria” and questioned why the ANC government would not send the army to “defeat gangs” and to grant the provinces more police officers.

I will fight to devolve police powers and resources to the provincial government to establish a provincial police service that is modern, honest and professional,” said Winde.

On the party’s plan for the rail network to be under provincial control, Winde said: “We have had enough of the ANC national government’s rail service in our province. We don’t have enough trains and they are never on time.”

See Daily Maverick’s fact check on the DA’s claims of a provincial police and rail service here.

As Winde left the stage supporters gathered around him, hoping to take a picture with the man who would be premier.

Later, Daily Maverick spoke to Winde about the party’s chances of retaining the province, despite the ANC gaining ground, Patricia de Lille’s Good party and the rise of the EFF in many wards and towns across the country.

Of course, every election comes along and people start new parties… and we’ve got hundreds of political parties in our region. Of course, they must do what they need to do. We will carry on doing what we’re doing. I believe that our track record shows a much better opportunity, we’ve shown through our track record that what we deliver on, we deliver for all our people in the province,” said Winde.

I need to focus on what we must do and what our plan is, people must judge us on what we have done and what the vision and plan is going forward,” he said.

But most importantly, how will the party secure a two-thirds majority needed to change the Constitution to allow rail and policing to become a provincial mandate? And how long could this take?

It’s going to be a fight, so I’ve got to go with that fight,” said Winde.

After the May elections, Winde said he would assemble a team to put the plans into a “proper constitutional format. I will then take it to the president, I will take it to other provinces and call on other premiers in other provinces to say we need to be doing the same thing because I mean, we are fighting for the service here for our people”.

After the 2014 national and provincial elections, the party polled 59.38% while the ANC dropped to 32.89%. With just over three million registered voters in the province, according to the IEC, voting could go anywhere with the ANC, DA, Good and the EFF all vying for votes. DM

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