Getting up close and personal to chase votes

DESPITE predictions that the DA would strengthen its hold on the Western Cape, and even increase its majority, ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete says her party can turn the tide on May 7 and get more than 50% of the vote.

Mbete was speaking in the Makhaza section of Khayelitsha where she went on a walkabout with local ANC leaders and councillors, as a small group of supporters sang songs in honour of party leaders. They also sang one denigrating DA leader and Western Cape premier Helen Zille.

Members of the ANC’s national executive committee, including President Jacob Zuma, have been criss-crossing the Western Cape for the last month, with particular focus on the Cape Town metro where just under 70% of registered voters are located.

Mbete first visited the home of Sindiswa Makwedini, 46, in a ramshackle backyard shack. Makwedini, who shares the shack with her husband and four children, told Mbete that she had been living there since she moved to the area in 1993.

And while her material conditions had not changed much in almost 20 years of democracy, Makwedini said she was grateful.

“We are struggling here at home. We’re all unemployed but I believe the promises she [Mbete] made will be realised. The ANC has helped me a lot – the schools are now free, along with books,” Makwedini said.

While Mbete walked through the area, accompanied by a heavy security presence, most residents looked on bewildered.

ANC leaders are hoping that their visits will reverse the 2009 election result in which the ANC received 33% of the vote in the province and was dislodged from power by the DA with 51% of the votes.

Asked about this year, Mbete said: “The ANC’s chances are very good in the Western Cape – we might even get over 50%.”

The part of Khayelitsha she visited is a DA-controlled ward and Mbete said the living conditions in the area were telling.

“The DA councillor they have here has never come to visit.

“We’ve asked one of the councillors to get food packs for the residents,” said Mbete, adding that only a vote for the ANC would improve their conditions. – Quinton Mtyala


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