Queues aren’t evidence of fair elections – Maimane

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: SAPA

The DA is contesting all wards for the first time in its history and wants international observers to interrogate the voters’ roll critically.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane on Sunday called on international observers at the August 3 local government elections to “interrogate” the voters’ roll.

Maimane was speaking to journalists at the Hilton Hotel in Durban during a press conference on the outcomes of the DA’s federal council meeting held on Saturday.

“We can’t have international observers just walking around and deciding the elections are free and fair based on queues. We need them to interrogate what happens on the voters’ roll,” he said.

The DA would deploy significant manpower on election day to ensure that each of the 22 000 polling stations around the country were run according to the rules and regulations of the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).

“We don’t want the elections to be marred by discrepancies … change cannot happen through the barrel of a gun,” he said, in an obvious reference to a threat by the EFF’s Malema that their party was willing to do that, if necessary.

For the first time in its history, the DA would field a candidate in every ward in the country, making this the biggest campaign the official opposition had ever run.

“Our operation is the biggest and most comprehensive we have ever had in the history of the party. We must contest all wards as it builds infrastructure among communities. The DA is the only party that can contest among all racial groups in rural and urban areas,” Maimane said.

He rejected as “nonsense” suggestions that the electorate was being asked to choose between an alleged “black party” and a “white party”.

The only choice was between a government of patronage and corruption or a party that had a record of clean governance.

“This past week has shown that the stakes have never been higher. ANC factionalism has brought violence and put peoples’ lives in danger. For the ANC, government is about patronage and cronyism. It is about putting [President Jacob] Zuma’s pals in high places so that he can be protected and the connected elite can benefit,” Maimane said.

“2016 will be remembered as the most important year in the democratic history of South Africa. While we have made progress since 1994, the ANC has now put our country on the wrong path. We now have the opportunity to change this and ensure that we move in the right direction again. The direction that [former president] Nelson Mandela dreamed of,” he said.

DA federal chairman and Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral candidate Athol Trollip said the defining moment of the federal council meeting had been the past DA leadership throwing their weight behind the election campaign.

“The Democratic Alliance is working to bring dignity and change to the people of South Africa. Voters are hungry for alternative offers. People want change, prosperity, and honest government. The Democratic Alliance’s election campaign has brought momentum; we are confident people will vote for change,” he said.

The latest Ipsos poll suggests the party is leading in Joburg, Tshwane and Port Elizabeth, while it is almost a foregone conclusion that it will retain Cape Town.

The DA has further challenged the ANC to public debates between their respective mayoral candidates in the August 3 local government elections.

“The DA again challenges the ANC’s mayoral candidates to a debate as soon as possible so that [President Jacob] Zuma’s pals can allow themselves to be scrutinised openly,” DA leader Mmusi Maimane told reporters.

Maimane said the announcement of the ANC’s mayoral candidates – delayed for over six months by Zuma – presented “the predictable”, as they were “a conglomeration of Zuma’s pals who will focus on benefitting the ANC-connected elite at the expense of the poor”. The ANC’s mayoral candidates were incapable of bringing the change necessary to move the country forward.

“They offer more of the same – more corruption, deteriorating service delivery, and increasing joblessness. The only job they care about is that of Jacob Zuma,” Maimane said.

The ANC’s candidates were not the best but rather put forward to serve a faction in the patronage war within the ANC. On the other hand, the DA’s goals were to stop corruption, deliver services, and ensure job creation.

“South Africa needs to take stock. We are facing a really big choice with this significant election. Do we want the same old thing or real change?” he asked.

It was worrying that Zuma had not spoken-out about the violence within the ANC’s own ranks. His silence on the violence in the City of Tshwane was “shameful”.

“The DA condemns ANC co-ordinated violence in Tshwane following the imposition of Zuma’s friend [Tshwane mayoral candidate] Thoko Didiza. This factional war demonstrates yet again just how much the ANC has changed,” Maimane said.

The ANC was at war with itself and putting the lives of people in danger. The governing party should be ashamed of the way it had allowed, and responded to, the serious situation in Tshwane.

“While people have died and public property destroyed, the president has not said a single word. This is not a man who can be trusted by South Africans to look after their best interests.”

Maimane called on Zuma to take a leaf out of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s book after citizens voted in a referendum on Thursday to leave the European Union, which Cameron campaigned against.

“Cameron did the honourable thing and resigned. If you have lost the mandate of the people you must step aside. Jacob Zuma has lost the mandate of the people and should do the same thing,” Maimane said.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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