Pretoria - Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane has pleaded with residents of Tshwane not to engage in violent protests, saying they would not bring about any solutions.
"I am a child of Soweto, I've seen violence growing up. It doesn't help anyone," Maimane told a hall full of DA supporters in Soshanguve on Monday.
"An eye for an eye will leave the whole country blind," he said.
- Elections Map: See previous Tshwane results
Maimane was speaking at the party's Tshwane manifesto launch where mayoral candidate Solly Msimanga was also set to address residents.
Last week, violent protests broke out across Tshwane, including Soshanguve, shortly after the ANC announced Thoko Didiza as its mayoral candidate.
Many took to the streets in protest of the decision, but the protests quickly turned violent as property was damaged and shops were looted.
'Who will fight for the people of Tshwane?'
Maimane said the infighting within the ruling party was not only affecting ANC members, but the rest of the city's residents as well.
"When the ANC is fighting, it is not the ANC that suffers. It is the people of Tshwane.
"So my question is, who will fight for the people of Tshwane?"
Maimane said that under the leadership of the DA, the needs of residents would be prioritised and that Tshwane would be free of a corrupt mayor.
He accused outgoing Tshwane Mayor Kgosientsho "Sputla" Ramokgopa of stealing billions from his own people.
"Sputla o jele chelete ya batho bako Tshwane [Sputla has taken/eaten Tshwane residents' money]."
ANC leaders 'all the same'
He said the infighting was about something bigger than Didiza's candidacy.
The fight was about those who were against a candidate who was seen to be President Jacob Zuma's lacky, versus a candidate who was seen to be part of Ramokgopa's faction.
The point residents needed to know was that all ANC leaders were the same, Maimane said.
"Thoko Didiza and Jacob Zuma are all the same. Thoko Didiza and Sputla are all the same.
"So the new song for 2016 is ANC Must Fall and no longer Zuma Must Fall," Maimane said to a cheering crowd of blue.
Maimane also condemned any gender, tribal and racial discrimination, saying it was reminiscent of the apartheid regime.
Going back to apartheid
"We are first and foremost South Africans, before we belong to any human race.
"Other political parties want to come and say 'black people must be in this party, white people must be in this party'.
"It is that [mentality] that will send us back to apartheid.
"If you drive a racist agenda... you must never forget where it ends up.
"Racism quick becomes cultural intolerance, religious intolerance and gender intolerance," Maimane said.
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