A community meeting in Zwide, Nelson Mandela Bay (Thulani Gqirana, News24)
Port Elizabeth – It is the final stretch as parties prepare to battle for the heart of Nelson Mandela Bay, and DA leader and mayoral candidate Athol Trollip is ready to take the fight to the streets, despite the "exam" nerves.
Speaking to News24 less than two weeks before millions of South Africans head to the polls for the local government elections, Trollip said he believes he is ready to serve the Nelson Mandela Metro.
But as the elections will be the true test of the work the party has done in the area in a bid to unseat the ANC, Trollip admits to being a little nervous.
"It feels like I have studied for this exam, I am confident, I have attended my classes, I know the subject but I can't help sweating as I am walking into the exam room. I am confident I can do the job, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I am nervous because there is the impeding expectation of winning."
Parties have a few more days to convince voters to choose the ANC's yellow and black, the blue of the DA, the red of the EFF, and the UDM's yellow and green among many other party colours.
And the gloves will be coming off, Trollip has promised.
Going 'pound for pound' with ANC
He did not want to give away all their party secrets, he said, but they planned to refresh and reinforce the work they have done.
"And we are going to do what we have never done before, we are going to meet the ANC pound for pound in the last week.
"We always in the past have fought Queensberry rules [a code of generally accepted rules in boxing] and the ANC has always used street fighting tactics. We are going to the streets."
Born, raised and initiated into politics in the Eastern Cape, the 54-year-old hopes to be trusted to lead the metro because of his deep love for its roots.
"My forefathers came to this province in 1820 and never left. I was born on a family farm, I was the sixth generation at that farm, and I have never left. So I love this province. The Eastern Cape defines who I am and it defines why I do what I do," he said.
He outlined his party's plans for the metro, which include job creation, corruption busting and service delivery.
The father of two said until recently, he thought his main objective was to work hard and make Nelson Mandela Bay prosperous so that his children would not want to go elsewhere.
That was until, he said, he heard he was going to be a grandfather.
Now he wants to work for future generations, he said.
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The party in the province has faced allegations of racism, while Trollip himself has been accused of violating the human rights of his farm workers.
The farmer has rubbished the claims.
Trollip said if one saw everything through a racial prism, then one ends up becoming a victim to that illness.
'I want to make Nelson Mandela Bay like Cape Town'
He was not ashamed of being white, he said.
"I don't plead with people to vote for the DA despite the colour of my skin. There is nothing I can do about the colour of my skin and I am not even ashamed of being white. I was created by God like this."
While campaigning, the party always refers to Cape Town as an example of their good governance, and this is because of a sense of pride in the city, Trollip says.
"The first graduate in your family is always going to be an example. You are always going to refer to the first graduate in your family. If we can't refer to our first graduate and our first example of success, why on earth would we refer to anything else?
"We are proud of Cape Town, I want to make Nelson Mandela Bay like Cape Town."
He admitted that there were still challenges with their "first graduate".
"I lived in Cape Town for nearly four years, I have seen the faces, but I have also seen the changes."