SA's political derby day: ANC, EFF to host final rallies

2019-05-05 08:14
(Mpho Raborife, News24)

On Sunday, South Africa will for at least one day return to the days of stadiumology – the art of filling a stadium –  as the mammoth ANC faces off with the smaller but more youthful and vibrant EFF.

The ANC will hold its Siyanqoba rally at Ellis Park stadium, which holds around 62 000 people, with the 37 000 capacity Johannesburg stadium set up as the overflow area.

And while the EFF only has the task of filling Orlando stadium and its smaller overflow area, the battle between the two popular parties will also be played out on social media, especially on Twitter; between hashtags, retweets and likes. The ANC has already distributed usernames and WiFi passwords to get its party supporters to tweet of its events, while the red berets have spent time on Soweto's historic streets, trying to get supporters to attend its Tshela Thupa rally.

EFF leader Julius Malema, who was excited during the week for the event, referred to it as a derby and took pride in the fact that his party was closing off its campaign in Soweto.

"It will be the biggest rally. We are in Orlando, we are here where our people are, the elite have taken theirs to Ellis Park stadium, away from where people are," Malema said to News24 during the week.

This will be Malema's second stint at the stadium after his party launched its 2016 local government elections campaign in the historic township. He returns there on Sunday to deliver an address in the township where his political mother and struggle icon Winnie Madikizela Mandela used to live, a year after her passing and, more tragic, just hours after losing his beloved Koko (grandmother), Sarah Malema.

Some already believe this and his willingness to still attend and go through with the rally will garner him more votes. His own vision is to at least get 51% of the voters' share.

As he wraps the red berets' campaign, Malema says while the ANC used to speak arrogantly of the EFF, there was now a real chance the party could shed enough support to allow for the EFF to win Limpopo and the North West.

His views have been proven as numerous ANC leaders have expressed some sort of concern over how the EFF is eating into their electorate. This has also come across in numerous polls, including both the ANC and DA's internal polls.

The country's main opposition returned to leader Mmusi Maimane's hometown Dobsonville on Saturday where the party slowly filled the stadium and many were moved by Maimane's passionate speech, which News24 understands he mostly penned, calling for the country to no longer fear change but to embrace it and trust his party to drive it there.

The ANC's election machinery, which reaches far and wide has been doing exactly that, ensuring that in a bid to fill up Ellis Park stadium, they do not abandon other provinces that need to engage with its supporters.

Its secretary general, Ace Magashule, has proven to be a liability of sorts throughout the campaign, which included claims he made that the state was bugging his phone.

Fikile Mbalula, who heads up the ANC's elections team, told journalists during a state of readiness media briefing ahead of the rally that their SG's comments were reckless and that the party could not deal with them now.

"We are not focused on that and the ANC is working very hard to undo what was wrong in the past and obviously such an allegation will either stand or fall, depending on what we do. What we are doing now is to ensure we have state organs that are capable, that are doing their jobs and are supported by government."

While stadiumology was a big factor during former president Jacob Zuma's years, where the ANC struggled, not get its members into stadiums but to keep them there long enough to hear the president speak, it really hasn't been since the emergence of current party president Cyril Ramaphosa, who's a stickler for time and has not experienced the wrath of supporters that would sometimes be reserved for Zuma.

With the elections taking place on Wednesday, it will be up to Ramaphosa and Malema's words to convince those who remain uncertain on the way forward.

,election 2019

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