‘DA making significant in-roads in townships’

2014-05-01 00:00

THE DA in KwaZulu-Natal was undergoing a face change with new recruits no longer being ostracised by their communities for associating with a “white” party.

Drawing on his personal experience when he joined the the Democratic Party in the late 1990s, the party’s provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu said he had faced the wrath of his community who did not accept his new political home.

“It was very difficult to be accepted as member of the DP or a white-perceived party in Mbali (township in Pietermaritzburg).

“There had been physical and personal attacks at some stage on me, my family and those associated with me. It has [changed] to an extent,” Mchunu said.

Mchunu cut his political teeth in the PAC youth wing, and then defected to the DP in 1996.

He rose through the ranks of the party becoming an MPL and provincial leader.

Recounting this year’s election campaign, Mchunu said it had been interesting because the party was warmly welcomed in communities. “For the first time I feel that South Africans are buying into our idea and what we have to offer.”

The DA KZN leader said this reception has convinced him that the party would grow in the May 7 elections.

“I do not mean we will be the government of the day, but the DA will grow.

“We have set ourselves an objective of being the official opposition in KZN and I am convinced come May 7 we will emerge as such.”

He would not estimate the percentage his party was likely to obtain in the upcoming elections.

The DP, before assuming the DA identity, obtained 9,76% in 1999, 8,35% in 2004 and 9,15% in 2009 in the KZN legislature.

According to Mchunu, the DA was already making significant in-roads in non-traditional support bases such as rural areas and townships like Ulundi, Umzimkhulu, Umgababa and in Pietermaritzburg.

“You find DA members in every corner of the province now. That is an indication for us that we are growing. DA meetings in KwaMashu, Umtshezi (Escourt) and Bhongweni (Kokstad) tell us we have made significant in-roads”

He ascribed the party’s growth to engagement with communities and their public representatives becoming the voice of the marginalised.

The party has 148 councillors and 15 MPs and MPLs across the province.

Also nine months ago, the KZN DA launched a campaign aimed at recruiting new volunteers and activists, which Mchunu said now stood at more than 10 000.

Mchunu said the government under President Jacob Zuma had reversed the gains observed under then presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

He dismissed criticism levelled at the DA and other opposition parties for criticising the ANC-led government without providing alternatives.

“At no stage will we stand up and criticise without presenting workable solutions. There has to be political will on the other side to be able to accept other suggestions and proposals from the opposition.”

Mchunu accused the ANC of using state resources in its campaign.

“I hope one day people of South Africa will see and realise that the government under the ANC fails to distinguish between the state and the party.”

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