The African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) took aim at each other in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday as both parties entered the closing stages of their election campaign in the province.
ANC provincial chairman Sihle Zikalala gleefully presented a number of candidates from other parties, whom he claimed had jumped ship and joined the ANC, at a press conference on Thursday morning.
Eight of the 14 candidates were from the DA, while the balance were from the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Inkatha Freedom Party and surprisingly one was from the National Freedom Party – a party that has been disqualified from contesting the elections because it failed to pay the necessary registration fees by the June 2 deadline.
Six of the DA candidates unveiled at the press conference hailed from Ladysmith.
“The DA doesn’t exist there. The DA [in Ladysmith] existed because of them,” said Zikalala.
He said that should any of the 14 win the wards in the elections on August 3, there would be an immediate necessity for by-elections in those wards.
However, asked about the candidates that had jumped ship, the DA’s provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said: “We are not really shaken. If they [the defecting candidates] cannot be honest with their own party, then how can you say they are honest with the voters?”
He said the DA did not need the candidates, whom he claimed the ANC was unveiling for a second time.
“These are the same guys that were in Maritzburg a while back. Before you [the media] had their faces, but not their names. Now you have their names and not their faces. They are recycling them (the defecting candidates).”
While Zikalala was beaming about the candidates who had jumped ship, Mncwango was more than happy to point out that 57 independent candidates were standing in eThekwini Metro Municipality wards that had previously been ANC strongholds.
Most of the independent candidates were former ANC members who were standing against their former party. So fierce has the battle been over nominations in some Durban wards that protests have erupted, particularly in Folweni and Inchanga. Many residents in these wards claim that candidates have been imposed on them.
Much of the infighting has been attributed to the fall-out following the ousting of SA Communist Party provincial chairman James Nxumalo as Durban mayor and KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu as the province’s premier. Their supporters claim their ousting was flawed.
“It tells you something is wrong in that house,” said Mncwango, addressing supporters outside the Durban City Hall.
He said the divisions within the ANC had left the party with few alternatives to grab votes.
“The only thing left now is the race card,” said Mncwango.
Asked about the independent candidates, Zikalala said: “On their own they are nothing. They have no credibility.”
Super Zuma, the party’s provincial secretary, also speaking at the same press conference, said: “They will be expelled, effective June 2 (the day candidate lists had to be finalised with the Electoral Commission of South Africa).”
He said that there were some who had decided to stand as independent candidates, but had changed their minds and that there was a disciplinary process underway against them.
He would not reveal how many members were being disciplined or who were standing as independent candidates.