Inside the war rooms

2014-04-06 14:00

Tomorrow will be exactly a month before polling day. Political parties are gearing up for the final push to whip up support and swing undecided voters. Sabelo Ndlangisa, Carien du Plessis and Rapule Tabane assess the fray

ANC: Governing party's election machinery goes into overdrive

The ANC’s nerve centre is made up of elections head Malusi Gigaba, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, events head Nomvula Mokonyane and party official Amos Masondo, who meet regularly in Luthuli House’s biggest boardroom on the 11th floor to assess how campaigns are faring nationally.

After these polls, the election machinery will become a permanent structure that keeps operating.

“You can’t reinvent the wheel each time there is an election,” Gigaba said.

“Part of our problem has been precisely that we campaign about 12 months before an election, and the messages of the opposition about you have sunk [in],” he said.

Gigaba said the party had also added dedicated social network teams that accompany officials and NEC members to disseminate their messages on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Mxit during campaigns. Gigaba said the party had not produced the same quantities of T-shirts and other paraphernalia as it had done in 2009.

This was mainly because of a “change in tactics”, although items like T-shirts are still regarded as the main source of visibility.

Other core members of the nerve centre include Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Andries Nel and ANC communications head Lindiwe Zulu.

Gauteng will host the party’s final Siyanqoba (victory) rally at what it is expected to be a packed FNB Stadium and a show of force four days before voting day.

The ANC’s campaign in the Western Cape and Northern Cape differs from the other provinces, and there is a strong focus on coloured voters.

This week, ANC Western Cape provincial chairperson Marius Fransman campaigned at the Klein Karoo Arts Festival, which was attended mostly by white and coloured Afrikaans-speakers.

The party in the province has also roped in former Springbok rugby player Ashwin Willemse to help with its campaign.

DA: Party ropes in US election guru as it goes big to boost support and break new ground

The DA is going big for the 2014 polls. A total of 20?million leaflets and close to 1?million posters, almost double the amount printed in 2009, are just some of the vote-wooing weapons in the DA’s general election arsenal as it tries to expand its share of the black vote.

On top of that, “hundreds of thousands of T-shirts” are being distributed, said party chief executive officer and campaign manager Jonathan Moakes.

The party is also planning its “biggest-ever final rally” in Johannesburg on the final weekend before the elections.

This will coincide with the ANC’s planned rally at the 90?000-seater FNB Stadium.

The DA’s national elections team works from a war room – where coffee is consumed by the litre – in an office in Gardens, Cape Town, with smaller election teams coordinating thousands of activists across the country.

Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the Free State have dedicated teams running campaigns for the premier candidates.

The DA’s own polls show that it is likely to get about a quarter of the vote, not quite the 30% it was hoping for.

It is hoping to improve on this in the final push towards election day when it will run a Get out the Vote campaign that it hopes will encourage all DA supporters and undecided voters to vote for the party.

The DA has been using US elections guru Stan Greenberg as a consultant for its polling operation.

EFF: New party believes in keeping it personal as it tries to reach out to each and every voter

EFF strategist Godrich Gardee said the party’s slogan is umuntu emuntwini (person to person), which means reaching every person in every village and township in all nine provinces.

The EFF operates from offices in Braamfontein with 30 volunteers, but each province has its own operations room. He said the party had 4?000 agents across the country doing election work and each region had been tasked with organising at least 2?000 volunteers.

EFF “commissar” Andile Mngxitama said the party had classed potential voters into three categories and handled them according to the response.

“Those who have decided to vote for us, we kiss, hug and then move on. Those who are extremely opposed to us we bid goodbye and promise to meet on May 7. “We spend most of our time on the undecided, trying to convince them.”

Gardee said nothing except direct contact with voters would work for the party. Besides door-to-door visits and rallies, the EFF spends a lot of time on trains talking to commuters. “We ask them, ‘Are you happy with the current situation? What is it that you don’t like about the current set-up? Do you think the EFF can help?’ We then talk about our manifesto solutions, jobs and the grants we will provide,” Gardee said.

Julius Malema has been central to the EFF campaign. He has spent every week of the past month doing work in every province and will continue doing so until the elections.

“Daily, he addresses a crowd of no less than 2?000 people in different towns. On weekends, he speaks to a provincial rally of at least 10?000, people” Gardee said.

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