S.Africa opposition vows to slash power cuts, unemploymentSat, 17 Feb 2024 13:11:24 GMT

The liberal Democratic Alliance, fighting to keep its place as South Africa’s official opposition party, launched its electoral campaign Saturday ahead of a hotly contested vote, vowing to crush power cuts and slash high unemployment.Party leader John Steenhuisen promised to create two million jobs, end an endemic power crisis, halve violent crime in one of the most dangerous countries in the world — with almost 84 murders recorded daily in the last 3 months of 2023.”In this election, the DA is not going to oppose the ANC… the DA is going to defeat the ANC” Steenhuisen said.In the capital Pretoria the party led a march from the centre city to the seat of government, the Union Buildings.Under the scorching sun, streets were flooded with a sea of the DA’s signature blue as supporters sang along to an energetic brass band as they marched behind their leader.Once they arrived, Steenhuisen told the crowd that “the same building once served as a symbol of hope when President Nelson Mandela assumed office here, have now been turned into a crime scene” as he unveiled the party’s new manifesto. He said the party’s plan would “fundamentally restore our country back onto the path of promise”, offering the DA as an alternative to a “cowardly” president, currently Cyril Ramaphosa.”I’m here today to see some change, we want to give this political party a chance because you never know it could work” said Pontsho Mona, 24, “because truly speaking the ANC has failed”.The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is set to launch its own manifesto next week.The image of the 110-year-old ANC has been fractured and stained by corruption, cronyism and a lacklustre economic record.  “The demise of the ANC has opened the door for the DA to achieve what was once considered unthinkable to enter national government” Steenhuisen told thousands of party faithful.- ‘EFF won’t come close’ -The DA also promised to lift six million South Africans out of poverty and make healthcare accessible to all.In a country plagued by an energy crisis and high unemployment, some 27.5 million registered South Africans will elect a new parliament which will then vote in a new president.Some polls show the alliance currently battling with leftist party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) for second place behind the ANC.But the party leader denounced that on Friday in an interview with AFP, saying that “the EFF won’t come close to anything where the DA is. They are currently half the size of the party”.A recent Isos survey put the two parties tied at between 17 and 20 percent.Formed in 2000 as a fusion of three mostly-white parties, the DA has struggled to escape its white, middle-class image and win over black voters. Steenhuisen admitted to AFP that race would play a role in this election “but the role that race will play in this election will be far less than it has played in elections in the last 30 years.” But Simon Nkabinde, a 68-year-old pensioner, told AFP he has put his faith into the DA after being “constantly lied to” by the ANC — his former party who he fought the apartheid regime under. “I had been complaining about not having a tar road in my township since 1991 under ANC leadership but nothing happened for 30 years,” he said.”The DA has now won our municipality and has started building us a tar road.”The centre-right party has formed a coalition in the hope of unseating the ANC.”My sense is that the coalition the DA has formed with smaller parties will have a zero effect in the upcoming polls” Ongama Mtimka, a politics lecturer at Nelson Mandela University told AFP.He said that with a “rise in centrist parties, voters now have a lot of options, so given the cumulative effect of the DA losing support the EFF might benefit from that.” In the last poll in 2019 the DA came second with 20.8 percent and won 84 parliamentary seats.The ANC currently holds 230 of the 400 seats (57.5 percent) and the EFF 44 (10.8 percent).