Johannesburg – President Cyril Ramaphosa made a mockery of the EFF’s claim that it was the government in waiting as he took the ANC’s election campaign to the red berets’ leader Julius Malema’s backyard in Limpopo.
With less than three weeks before the May 8 elections, campaigning has reached fever pitch.
On Tuesday, Ramaphosa spent the whole day addressing a number of community meetings in Malema’s hometown of Seshego, outside Polokwane, flanked by ANC provincial chairperson Premier Stan Mathabatha and regional leaders.
This was while Malema returned to the ANC stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal, where he has been canvassing for votes since Monday.
On Tuesday, Malema was expected to take his campaign to Pietermaritzburg, the seat of the provincial legislature, which has experienced serious service delivery issues.
Addressing hundreds of ANC supporters clad in party regalia in Zone 1 – where Malema comes from – Ramaphosa called on Seshego residents to reject smaller parties that had ambitions to remove the ANC.
“We must back the ANC government to retain the control of the province and the country. There must be no smaller, little parties that must think they can take over government,” Ramaphosa said.
“There are small parties that are going around claiming that they are the government in waiting. There is no government in waiting here. It is only the ANC that is waiting. South Africans in their numbers – and these small parties will see – are saying the ANC will retain power with an increased majority,” he said.
Since the 2014 general elections, when it first contested power, the EFF has been eating into the ANC’s support in Limpopo, including Polokwane, where it secured 28% in the 2016 local elections, while the ANC fell from 79% to 57%.
Ramaphosa said the ANC was still the only party with a plan and experience to take the country forward.
“Yes, there have been mistakes. But we have worked for the nation, and many people can see that the ANC has made the difference. If you don’t see, you are blind, and if you don’t hear, you are deaf,” Ramaphosa told the crowd.
He said his campaign trail was a mimic of the listening tour embarked upon by former president Nelson Mandela, who went on a roadshow throughout the country to understand people’s problems before he took over in 1994.
He said that while jobs would be top of the list of what the ANC would push to deliver after retaining power under his leadership, he would push for consequences for those who had looted public resources.
“Most of the things that people are saying we must fix we are fixing, including governance at national level and at provincial and local level.
"We want those who have been appointed to work for the public to do so and not work for themselves and their family members.
"They must be trustworthy. The thieves, we are behind them. They will end up where they deserve, with orange overalls,” Ramaphosa said.
He said people were seeing that the ANC under his leadership was fixing the country, and they wanted to give it another chance.
Malema lashed out at the ANC, saying corruption was institutionalised in the governing party, and instead of imprisoning corrupt leaders, they rewarded them with promotions.
Malema was addressing hundreds of students at the Durban University of Technology as part of the EFF’s campaign programme across KZN.
This is Malema’s third visit to the province in recent months, including his court case in Newcastle and the EFF’s provincial manifesto launch in Chatsworth last month.
“You said Zuma is corrupt, Zuma must go. Zuma left and he was replaced by a new corruption of Bosasa. Why? Because the pot is the same. You cannot expect anything from the ANC or Sasco or the ANC Youth League; corruption is institutionalised.
“When you want to be promoted in the ANC you must be the most corrupt; then they are going to remove you and put you in the legislature. When you steal more in the legislature as MEC, they remove you and take you to Parliament,” Malema claimed.
ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete could not be reached for comment.