LEADERS HIT THE STREETS: THE HERALD

COPE, DA heavyweights brave Bay’s bad weather to woo by-election voters

COPE and DA political heavyweights braved yesterday’s inclement weather in their bid to woo Nelson Mandela Bay voters ahead of the hotly contested by-elections on Wednesday. The by-elections to be held in wards 55 (Motherwell), 26 (Zwide) and 15 (New Brighton) follow the deaths of three ANC councillors in a car accident in January. They will determine whether the ANC retains its outright majority of 63 in the council. The opposition parties hold 57 seats.

Addressing supporters at the Sisonke Community Centre in Zwide, COPE president Mosiuoa Lekota likened the party to the mythical bird, the phoenix, saying: “If anyone thought or wrote an article that COPE was gone, they must eat those words. People are saying we want COPE not the DA to lead us. That is what we also want. There will be no turning back from here.”

A former ANC defence minister and struggle stalwart, Lekota was accompanied by the party’s candidates and office bearers, including regional chairman Mzwandile Hote and election coordinator councillor Khwezi Ntshanyana, as he went from door to door telling people COPE would address corruption, maladministration and basic service deliver y.

He also took a dig at the ANC, saying it was rocked by factionalism. “In Nelson Mandela Bay there is the ANC grouping of [regional chairman Nceba] Faku, there is [mayor Zanoxolo] Wayile and [former MEC Thobile] Mhlahlo.

“Any organisation that forgets the people who voted for it, no matter how powerful it may be, the sun will set on that party. That is the end of an organisation. Iphelile [It’s finished],” Lekota said, to loud applause.

“I saw a supporter wearing an ANC T-shirt and cap. I told him, ‘My broer, I was here during the local government elections last year. The situation has not changed in these wards’. I told him to go and vote for COPE so we can change things around . . . Let’s take our people out of poverty. There must be change in the lives of our people.”

But COPE’S poor performance in the municipal elections disappointed DA leader Helen Zille, who said if it had performed better the parties would have managed to enter into a coalition and wrest the metro from the ANC’S hands.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, who also campaigned in the three wards yesterday, addressed supporters outside the Red Location Museum.

“I was here campaigning with [ward 15 candidate Knight] Mali for the local government elections last year. The situation of people living here is still the same, there are no lights, water and basic services.

“If we win, we will be one step closer to becoming a governing party in the Mandela metro,” she said. “We take these by-elections BLUE WAVE: DA ward 15 councillor Knight Mali, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and her spokeswoman, Siviwe Gwarube, during their campaign at Red Location in New Brighton yesterday seriously because local government is the closest level of government to the people. We are determined to change the face of government, that it can be clean, free of corruption, that it can provide water, housing and electricity to the people.”

Mazibuko campaigned with DA MP Donald Lee, DA leader in the Bhisho Legislature MPL Bobby Stevenson, metro caucus leader Leon de Villiers and DA Youth Eastern Cape leader Andrew Whitfield, among others.

She shared the success stories of the DA-run Western Cape, saying when the party took over from the ANC there had been 120 unserviced informal settlements. “But today every single settlement is serviced, they have got water, electricity and sanitation.

“We want services to reach even to the poorest of the poor,” she said.

Regarding the possibility of entering into a coalition, Mazibuko said: “We will consider looking at what kind of performance other parties come up with. But we will give these by-elections our best shot.”

That the three wards were won by the ANC at the municipal elections last year did not matter because “nothing is safe in politics”, Mazibuko said.

Mali said people should vote DA if they were serious about change.

ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: “We had our normal door-to-door programmes in the three wards [yesterday]. We are confident we will retain them.”