Parties spell out plans if they are voted into power
Quality, debt-free education, a stipend for all job-seekers, land and a God-fearing civil servant machinery.
These were among a host of promises that political parties made to voters as Eastern Cape representatives went head to head in a bid to convince the public to vote for them in next week’s general election.
The parties did not pull any punches at Port Elizabeth’s Feather Market Centre on Tuesday night as representatives debated crime, jobs, housing backlogs and their plan to grow the economy.
The six parties at The Herald Canrad Elections Debate were Lance Grootboom (ACDP), Lulama Moolman (AIC), Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (ANC), Nqaba Bhanga (DA), Lukhanyo Mrara (EFF) and Mabandla Gogo (UDM).
The COPE’s Siyasanga Sijadu pulled out at the last minute, while the PAC, Azapo and Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party (SRWP) were also given time to state their offering.
Hundreds of supporters – clad in party colours and equipped with flags and posters – turned up to hear what the parties would do should they be voted into power on May 8.
The excited crowds sang and chanted outside and inside the venue and broadcast facilitator Siki Mgabadeli struggled at times to contain them.
The theme for the dialogue was “South Africa Decides”.
The parties promised everything from a plan to reduce the high levels of crime to changing the curriculum in schools to match the jobs in the market and doing away with labour brokers.
Ndabeni-Abrahams spoke at length about the strides that the ANC had made in changing the lives of South Africans.
“Unlike others we do have a story – we don’t have to make up stories,” she said.
“We are the only party that has clear, proven strategies.
“The ANC believes in the people’s participation.
“We are saying give us an opportunity while others are talking about pie in the sky.
“Ours is a story that is known in the entire world.”
Mrara said the EFF was adamant and unapologetic about its stance on the expropriation of land without compensation.
“We are a young, growing organisation, with a trackrecord,” Mrara said.
“Without governing we already have a track record.
“This organisation is fighting for people who have nothing – it’s because of the EFF that all political parties are talking about the issue of land.”
Bhanga said: “R85m disappeared in Mthatha – it’s the filthiest place, R2bn disappeared in Nelson Mandela Bay, R21m was stolen and more than 20 people died.
“We are going to appoint a credible police service.
“When we left government, they stopped the shotspotter.
“We are going to provide programmes for matriculants where they will get a stipend while receiving training.”
Grootboom said the ACDP had identified seven giants that were standing in the way of people leading decent lives.
“One of the giants is unemployment, these giants are brought to you by the ANC.
“Another giant is poor economic growth.”
On corruption, Grootboom said: “We don’t even have to talk about this – we have VBS, we have Eskom, a few weeks ago you were sitting in the dark because of the ANC.
“There are threats to our property rights.
“The EFF and ANC want to oppress you.
“We want you to have the title deed, not just land.
“When you elect credible leaders, you are ensuring that your needs are prioritised.”
Gogo spoke about the UDM’s track record as corruption busters, saying they were not afraid to tackle corruption.
“The UDM has successfully fought corruption.
“When Baleka Mbete was running away from her responsibility, the UDM took her on. We blew the lid on the PIC.”
“Some of the ANC leaders in this room today were saying Zuma would never go anywhere. Where is Zuma now?
“In the UDM, if anybody is found guilty by a court of law they are dealt with,” Gogo said.
Winkie Mngqibisa from Azapo said their manifesto was centred around building black power, liberating the mind and restoring human dignity.
“We are made to be secondclass citizens in our own country 25 years down the line.
“We still have people who don’t have access to water and electricity and that’s a shame.
“We are going to repossess and redistribute the land to the people so that we don’t build RDP houses but have our people living in decent houses,” Mngqibisa said.
Moki Cekisani, of the PAC, said: “We are going to force the ANC from building RDP houses to build houses like Mill Park – you must stop that nonsense.
“We also believe that the name of the country must be changed to Azania – this is Azania.”
Mkhuseli Mtsila, of the SRWP, said they would abolish inequality by taxing the rich to empower the poor and nationalise the Reserve Bank so that its sole mandate would be to address the issues of unemployment.
“We want to introduce free and accessible education, [and] make sure that health is free.
“We are going to reverse what we call privatisation.
“We are the only party that will destroy capitalism.
“We are also the only party that spoke about the issue of energy here,” Mtsila said.
Moolman spoke about healthcare and the need to have more nurses employed to deal with the large number of patients every day.
“The government must empower our people.
“Everybody is promising jobs, but nobody is telling you that the biggest killer of budgets is tenders.
“Give the land back to our traditional leaders.
“Marry the issues of land with traditional leaders.”