The DA has come under fire for urging the voters not to vote for small parties, who on Wednesday said the official opposition’s campaign was not only mischievous but an insult to them.
The party has an election advertisement campaign that is presently playing on radio stations against small parties.
This week, DA leader Mmusi Maimane took the campaign further in his online newsletter, Bokamoso, saying they urgently needed to build a strong counterweight to the ANC.
"Voting for smaller parties right now is tantamount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Smaller parties will not stop our demise under the ANC and blurs our focus on the biggest threat to our democracy: one-party dominance," Maimane wrote.
He, however, welcomed the 48 parties contesting the May 8 elections as a sign of a vibrant democracy replete with plentiful options for voters to express their individual preferences.
"But this is not a business-as-usual election; this is a fight for our survival. So 8 May must be about building a credible alternative government, not about creating a wide sprinkling of opposition parties on the fringe of our politics."
But, the so-called small parties were not impressed by Maimane and DA’s utterances.
PAC deputy president Mzwanele Nyhontso said the DA was being mischievous.
Nyhontso questioned how the DA viewed the role of small parties in a constitutional democracy yet there existed a possibility of coalition government.
"As we speak there is a mayor from a so-called small party in Nelson Mandela Metro," he said.
African Independent Congress (AIC) secretary-general Mahlubi Jafta said the DA election campaign of taking away votes from small parties did not make sense at all.
Jafta said Maimane and the DA forget too soon that their predecessor Democratic Party started off as a small party many years ago.
"They don’t consider their own history. We encourage people to vote for small parties because they have a vision and ideas to govern South Africa," he said.
NFP’s Vikizitha Mlotshwa said they had noted the election advertisements of the DA, saying they were an insult to the small parties.
"In South Africa every political party has got a right to contest and be voted for. No matter how many seats we may have, they should not look down at us," Mlotshwa.
"At any given time the DA will need the small parties and a case in point are the coalitions in municipalities … We warn him (Maimane) to stop this, otherwise we will take them to the Electoral Court," he added.
African Democratic Change secretary-general Nathaniel Bricknell said Hellen Suzman held onto a single seat for years while representing the erstwhile and DA predecessor, Democratic Party, in Parliament during the apartheid era..
"When it suits them, they are not in favour of small parties. They want a two-party state, but look how it is damaging the US," Bricknell said.
He also said South Africa needed a multi-party democracy to ensure accountability of a party that was in power.