The two biggest opposition political parties, the EFF and DA, launched their manifestos at the weekend, five weeks before the local government elections on 1 November.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) launched their election manifestos at the weekend, prioritising issues such as housing, electricity and other basic services. While they touched on some similar hot-button local issues, their approaches to delivery often differed.
On Saturday the DA, which runs 27 municipalities in South Africa, launched its manifesto virtually. In the 2016 local government elections, the DA won 24.57 % of the votes. It pointed to what it said were its successes in local governance, saying that while it governed fewer than 10% of SA’s municipalities, the top five performing municipalities were DA-run.
DA leader John Steenhuisen emphasised that the DA was a party that got things done. “This here is our blueprint for a local government that works,” said Steenhuisen about his party’s manifesto, which also highlighted some of its achievements.
On Sunday, the EFF held its manifesto launch in Gandhi Square in Johannesburg, which was also screened live. In the 2016 local government elections, the EFF got 8.31 % of the votes.
EFF leader Julius Malema said that the party’s theme for the upcoming elections was land and jobs. “This manifesto is not a book of promises, but it’s a list of commitments,” said Malema.
Steenhuisen said the party planned to make six pilot municipalities in the Western Cape “load shedding-proof” through its Energy Resilience Project.
These DA-run municipalities are Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Mossel Bay, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay and Swartland.
“These municipalities are putting in place measures that will enable them to procure electricity directly from suppliers and ultimately end their reliance on Eskom altogether,” said Steenhuisen.
“[The DA-run] Cape Town already manages to avoid at least one stage of load shedding compared to the rest of the country through its pumped storage hydropower station at the Steenbras dam.”
Malema said that EFF-run municipalities would provide free water and electricity to indigent households.
Every EFF municipality would submit a list of indigent households within its jurisdiction to Eskom, so that indigent households are able to receive free electricity by November 2022, said Malema.
Housing and land
The DA’s manifesto pointed out that municipalities have to provide housing with a budget that is decreasing every year.
To address this, “DA governments will increase housing delivery through smart collaborations with the private sector,” said Steenhuisen.
“We will also continue to push the national government to release suitable tracts of state-owned land in cities to help us deliver quality housing options close to work opportunities and major transport routes.”
Malema said the EFF would identify land close to city centres to provide housing for low-income households, to “promote integrated human settlements”.
He said EFF-run municipalities would renovate abandoned buildings and offer housing to low-income households because this was “the most practical way to bring people closer to town”.
EFF supporters at the party’s manifesto launch at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg on 26 September. (Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)
The party would implement a property wealth tax to subsidise indigent households and municipalities run by the EFF would expropriate “stolen” municipal land while land would also be made available to develop student accommodation.
EFF municipalities would conduct a land audit of its municipal areas to determine land ownership details, ascertain current land use and expropriate abandoned and unused land for redistribution to the landless, said Malema.
The DA’s manifesto said that it would take “principled legal action to prevent and stop illegal land invasions”.
The DA said its performance in municipalities that it governed showed that it had a “zero tolerance for corruption” and was “committed to governing in the interests of the people by eliminating corruption, adopting best practice in good governance, and ensuring the resilience of communities through effective disaster risk management”.
Malema told supporters that an anti-corruption unit would be established in every ward.
The DA said it would invest in localised law enforcement. Steenhuisen said the party wanted to devolve much of the policing functions from national government to competent metros and municipalities.
“We will take this fight all the way to the Constitutional Court if we must,” said Steenhuisen.
“Having successfully fought off Day Zero in Cape Town, DA governments are using learnings from that episode to mitigate the drought in Nelson Mandela Bay through measures such as faster leak repairs, flow restrictors, sinking boreholes and running public awareness campaigns,” said Steenhuisen.
The DA undertook to eliminate pit latrines on municipal land and to provide safe, clean drinking water to residents.
The DA calls on IEC and police minister to look into EFF’s ‘illegal campaigning’
The DA also pointed fingers at the EFF at the weekend after it appeared that the number of Red Beret supporters gathered outside at Gandhi Square exceeded the 500 maximum number in terms of lockdown Level 2 regulations.
In a statement released after the EFF rally, the DA called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and the IEC chairperson, Glen Mashinini, “to lodge a joint review of what appears to be blatant illegal campaigning by the EFF. It is clear from the EFF’s campaign event today that the party has no regard for the rule of law and has once again proven that they are not above using their own supporters as fodder during this pandemic.
EFF supporters at the manifesto launch at Gandhi Square in Johannesburg on 26 September 2021 numbered well above the 500 permitted by Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions, says the DA. The party called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini ‘to lodge a joint review of what appears to be blatant illegal campaigning by the EFF’.(Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)
“It is evident from the pictures and videos coming from the EFF’s event today that attendance is in excess of 500 people. The EFF’s manifesto launch is, therefore, an illegal gathering and their display today is tantamount to illegal campaigning,” reads the DA’s statement.
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika ahead of the manifesto launch, Omphile Maotwe, EFF treasurer-general, said: “You can’t say to people, ‘You must stick to 500 [people]’; we’re not going to have 500 voters on 1 November. We’ve got over 26 million voters. So we’ll need to speak to the 26 million people who are registered to vote.
“If 10,000 people rock up today, they’re more than welcome. If 100,000 people rock up today, they’re more than welcome and we don’t care what the government says.”
The ruling ANC, meanwhile, is gearing up to launch its manifesto in Tshwane on Monday. DM