The Democratic Alliance declined to speak at yesterday’s National Women’s Day event in East London after an agreement to provide transport to our supporters was reneged on. We will not be the window dressing to provide a veneer of respectability for what amounted to be an ANC-rally at taxpayer’s expense.

The ANC continues to play under-handed tricks to stop any opposition parties from participating in national holidays and to see and listen to the President of the country. Once again public funds have been blatantly abused by the ANC to promote itself.

It was reported in the media today (subs: 10 August) that members of political parties other than the ANC were intimidated and heckled at the Buffalo City Stadium to such an extent that the President became visibly upset and even threatened to leave.

Unfortunately it is clear that there was a well-orchestrated plan to make it as hard as possible for supporters of other parties to attend the event. Despite an agreement in the Women’s Caucus in the Eastern Cape Legislature while organising this event, it is obvious that the opposition was merely being strung along.

The DA decided not to attend the event after it emerged that the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture had made available only seven taxis to transport supporters of the DA, Cope and UDM in Buffalo city to the venue, while 100 65-seater buses were given to the ANC. The Department made available three taxis for opposition party supporters coming from the Nelson Mandela Metro while a request for a 65-seater bus for opposition parties coming from Alfred Nzo District Municipality was refused by the department. In total, the department made a total of 156 65-seater buses available to the ANC.

It is obvious that a concerted effort was made to keep opposition party supporters away from the stadium despite the fact many of our supporters were keen to go.

This latest incident follows only months after the DA lodged a complaint with the Chief Whip of the ANC in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature in relation to the Freedom Day celebrations in Port Elizabeth in April, where the podium contained ANC regalia. It had been agreed that where a government-funded platform is made use of, national public holidays should be seen as an opportunity to engage in nation building and not in party political rallying.

South Africa has a volatile political climate and where leaders of all political parties appear on a stage together it sends out an important message that people can work together for the common good of all South Africans.

The Democratic Alliance agrees with the comments of Cope Women’s Movement deputy chairperson, Prudence Madonsela that the ANC needs to educate its members to accept opposition.

The opposition parties will not back down and take the bullying tactics of the ruling party when it comes to wasting public funds to promote the agenda of the ANC. South Africa is a Democracy and we will insist that democratic principles are upheld.

For further information, please contact Veliswa Mvenya, MPL on 0824187916