Campaigning in Nelson Mandela Bay on Saturday, Lekota and the party’s national and provincial leaders went door to door in Motherwell telling residents how Zuma’s government had failed.
Tutu Street was abuzz with yellow T-shirts as COPE supporters sang struggle songs welcoming Lekota.
Some residents shouted: “This is not Nkandla, This is PE. We need a leadership that is going to look after the people’s needs.”
Lekota visited 62-year-old Joyce Qukani at her home and asked her to think carefully about the future when casting her vote.
In IsiXhosa, Lekota said: “You need to think about how your vote will help your children. You also need to think about the party that is stealing people’s taxes. South Africa has a debt of R1.8-trillion.
“That is money we will die paying. As COPE, we don’t want to make promises because there is no money in the country’s Treasury.
“Every year the country has to borrow money. What we can promise you is that we will do away with the debt before I can make promises to change your lives for the better.
“The president has 64 ministers and each minister has a house in Cape Town and a house in Pretoria.
“They also have top-of-the-range cars in both cities and each house has six bodyguards, and two bodyguards who are always with them.
“During President Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s time there were only 28 cabinet ministers, which means more money was used for changing people’s lives. South Africa needs to go back to the 28 cabinet ministers,” Lekota said.
He said Mbeki was called names but he did very well for the country. “All of us have to make a better decision when voting for a party that will lead this country,” Lekota said.
Qukani said people were hungry and could no longer accept empty promises. “I am glad that Lekota came to my house. I now have a clear understanding of how things are happening in South Africa. I hope that whoever will take over will put the people’s needs first.
“The government grant is not enough because when it comes on the first of each month, we have to pay our debts. If you look inside, my cupboards are empty – we have no food. It would be lovely if we can be given extra food parcels,” Qukani said.
Those who were with Lekota said Zuma had an expensive swimming pool while people needed proper houses. Old and young came to shake hands with Lekota.
Nosiphiwo Buyaphi, 29, said: “What Lekota told the people is very important. It is an eye-opener, but he gave us hope that there are still leaders who care about the people.
“I believe that with COPE in the driving seat a lot of school dropouts will be given a chance to go back to school.”
Also with Lekota was COPE’s premier candidate, Bishop Lievie Kean Sharpley. “People need to know what we will be doing when COPE takes over,” Sharpley said.
“Today we are telling the people the truth about the financial state of the country.
“For South Africa to survive, the ruling party has to be voted out.”
Earlier, Lekota went to lay wreaths on the graves of those who died in the Langa massacre in Uitenhage.
He also addressed supporters in Uitenhage. – Yoliswa Sobuwa