Election not racial competition: Zille
Johannesburg - The 2011 local government election is not a contest between race groups, DA leader Helen Zille said in Kliptown on Saturday.
"For too long now, we have used elections as a way of expressing racial identity and racial solidarity," she told supporters at the party's election campaign launch in Gauteng.
"This time, we must take the next step. We must make the issues the issue [and] the key issue...is achieving excellent service delivery for all."
The election should be used to break down barriers between South Africans, she said.
Zille came through the crowd from the back of the hall at the Walter Sisulu Square.
She greeted supporters as she made her way to the stage.
People cheered as loud music filled the hall shouting "Viva Helen Zille Via" as they welcomed its leader.
Poverty priority number one
The DA's vision supported an open opportunity society for all, Zille said.
The greatest obstacle was poverty and this was the party's number one priority, she said.
Other issues such as job creation, crime and corruption, health care and social development were also highlighted.
Zille said jobs were the "passport out of poverty".
She said government could not create jobs by themselves and needed local entrepreneurs as well as international companies to invest in towns and cities. However, corruption within government deterred investment.
"This means we must have clean, corruption-free government," she said.
"Corruption chases away investors and makes poor people even poorer."
She said the DA was the only party willing to open government tender processes to the public.
Effective local government must also collect revenue and spend ratepayers' money wisely.
Where crime rates were high she said municipal police forces should be introduced.
"We know that municipalities do not lead the fight against crime, but we think they have a role to play."
Zille said government had to ensure that everyone had access to basic and social services.
The DA was committed to providing relief for citizens who were unable to afford these basic services such as clean water, electricity, sanitation and refuse removal.
The DA leader used Midvaal and the Western Cape as examples of the party's commitment to good service delivery.
She said Midvaal was rated number one in Gauteng's annual Quality of Life Survey since the DA took over the area ten years ago.
"Life is getting better in the Midvaal because majority of voters voted DA, and put us in power where we have spent the last ten years fixing things and getting the basics of government right."
Cape Town the best
Cape Town was also "without doubt, the best city" in South Africa for service delivery, she said.
Zille said the 2011 local elections was about "breaking free of the straight jacket" that kept people voting for the same party over and over again and somehow expecting a different result.
"If you want a better life you need to think about choosing a party that has proved it delivers for all wherever it governs.
"So give us a chance to prove it to you. Put us to the test. You have nothing to lose by trying something new in this local election," she said.
A sea of people in blue shirts streamed into the Walter Sisulu square in Kliptown, Soweto, on Saturday for the launch of the DA's election campaign and manifesto.
Thousands of supporters wearing blue T-shirts with the DA emblem arrived in buses from all over Gauteng to take part in the launch.
They were placards with slogans saying: "We deliver for all" and "Vote DA", all in different languages.
People blew vuvuzelas, whistled and shouted "Viva DA Viva, Viva Helen Zille Viva".
Supporters of all ages, men, women and children joined in the days festivities, with people singing and clapping to the live music.