IRATE ANC WARNS DA: HANDS OFF MADIBA: DAILY DISPATCH

Ruling party angered by rival’s claim that it now represents Mandela’s ideals

NELSON Mandela’s name is at the centre of a bitter war of words between the ANC and the Democratic Alliance after the opposition party claimed to best represent the former president’s ideals.

This follows DA leader Helen Zille’s public statements at various rallies throughout the country where she claimed the party was living up to Mandela’s vision of a rainbow nation.

Yesterday, Eastern Cape DA leader Bobby Stevenson defended Zille, saying the party did embrace Mandela’s vision and “as the Freedom Charter so aptly states, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both black and white”.

But the ruling party is incensed with the DA for daring to align itself with Mandela.

ANC Eastern Cape spokesperson Mlibo Qoboshiyane took a swipe at Zille, Stevenson and the party, saying associating Mandela with the DA was “political opportunism”.

“Our former president, Comrade Nelson Mandela, has long said he is the member of the ANC … his values, convictions are influenced by the character, policies and make-up of the ANC. Therefore it is political opportunism for the DA to distort such information in a desperate bid to ingratiate with the South African voters to vote for them,” said Qoboshiyane.

“While the ANC appreciates any propensity by opposition parties to associate with our rich political history, heritage and commitment to improving the lives of our people, it is wrong for opposition parties to use such material and names of our leaders in trying to get votes from our people.”

The DA shocked many a month ago when it launched its manifesto at the same venue, in Kliptown, where the ANC’s fundamental guiding document, the Freedom Charter, was adopted.

Hundreds of DA supporters, largely black, clad in the party’s colours, danced and sang along with Zille during the launch.

During her campaigning in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township, Zille said: “We thank God – one God – for the safe return of Madiba to his family.

“We say today that we will not forget the promise of 1994. We will not forget your struggle. Alex knows the spirit of Madiba (who believes) in one nation, one future.”

Invoking Mandela is sailing too close to the wind for Qoboshiyane, who called on parties such as the DA to stop altering ANC struggle songs and slogans, saying it is “unethical, cheap politicking and exhibits lack of political content and authenticity on their part”.

“Our material, heritage and leaders belong to the ANC, not these political groupings … To us, these songs, slogans and other material was a result of our struggle to liberate our people from apartheid, responding to the inhumane killing of our people in and outside South Africa and in the mobilisation of our people towards building of better communities.”

Stevenson, who is also DA leader in the provincial Legislature, hit back and said his party was now at the forefront of a different struggle in the province. “There is a new struggle for freedom that is being waged in our province today. It is a struggle for jobs, for service delivery, housing and decent roads, and the ANC is failing dismally in this regard.”

Stevenson said the ruling party was panicked because the DA’s ranks were swelling. “The voters of this province are clearly catching on to the fact that the DA delivers … The DA does not just talk about a better life for all. We deliver one … where the DA governs, the DA … delivers … to all.” — sabelos@dispatch.co.za