Unity the rallying call for Western Cape DA, as it launches its election campaign

DA leader Mmusi Maimane at the launch of the party's election campaign in the Western Cape. (Jan Gerber, News24)
DA leader Mmusi Maimane at the launch of the party's election campaign in the Western Cape. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Unity was the central theme at the DA's launch of the election campaign for next year's election in the only province it currently governs, the Western Cape.

The party is still reeling from a bitter, divisive battle around the leadership of outgoing Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and confusion around the announcement of its premier candidate in the province.

"We're not scoring own goals anymore, we are winning!" DA Cape Town metro chairperson Grant Twigg told the crowd in a marquee tent outside the Cape Town Stadium in Green Point, Cape Town.

DA provincial leader Bonginkosi Madikizela said analysts will try to divide the party along racial lines. 

"We must not fall for that!" he said. 

He called on the "DA family" to rally behind the party's leadership.

He also warned against "chequebook politics" – when their opponents approach them with offers. 

"I'm committed to this party, and I'm committed to its vision. That is why it is important for us to warn our people as well," he told the media after his speech.

He said the DA is the only party that wants to build a united South Africa.

"It is very important for us to bring together all South Africans along racial lines."

The DA's Western Cape premier candidate Alan Winde told the media it is important that they build their team, go across the province and convince voters to vote DA so that they can continue the work they have started.

"We started by getting good governance in place, then service delivery started," he said. "We now need to take it to the next level."

He said in the next nine months they will crisscross to every corner of the province.

Read: The DA has 'hopefully' learnt from their mistakes - Western Cape premier hopeful

Speaking about unity in the party, he said they already have a plan.

"All political parties go through bumps. It is how you manage things, whether it is within your party or society." 

"We've got to make sure all of government work together in the best interest of the people of this province."

Dan Plato, who will replace De Lille as mayor, whose resignation will be in effect from November 1, said there is some discomfort about unity in the province. He said he already had some meetings about the matter, and he will continue to do so.  

Read more: Dan Plato to replace De Lille as Cape Town mayor

"I think, as I said previously, the issues in the City are not unsolvable," he said.

He expects that the issues will be solved when he sets foot in City Council on November 1. 

"Unity is first prize, it is key."

Upon his arrival at the tent, DA leader Mmusi Maimane was swamped by singing, dancing supporters.

In his speech, which started with an "Amandla!", Maimane recalled Nelson Mandela's ideal of "a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities".

"For a while, we all pursued this dream. We all believed in this dream.

"But then we lost our way as a nation. Greed and corruption in the ANC replaced hope and ambition, and our nation started drifting further and further away from the dream of freedom," he said.

"Today, many of our people are no nearer to being free than they were back then. It has become clear that it won’t be the ANC who will deliver this freedom, because they can’t."

He said when people don't have jobs and are scared of tsotsis, they are not free. 

"We are not free if Cosatu comes and [says] they're going [to] make this province ungovernable!"

"You know, Cosatu and the ANC are in the same WhatsApp group."

"Do they want more people to be hungry?"

He mentioned the DA-led provincial government's achievements, and said they aim higher still.

Also read: Maimane 'not concerned' about drop in DA’s poll numbers, eyes 2019

"Across every single measure, the DA-led Western Cape has outshone every single ANC-led province," he said. 

"But that alone is no reason to sit back and feel satisfied. Because we cannot measure ourselves against a standard set by the ANC. Our benchmark must surely be much, much higher."

He said their goal is not to be better than the ANC, but "to fight for a better life for our people".

"And not only the people who voted for us. We fight for everyone, because we are the DA. We are the only party trying to build a united, non-racial South Africa."

Maimane acknowledged the work done by De Lille and current Premier Helen Zille, neither of whom were present at the event.

He often threw in an Afrikaans phrase or two, much to the amusement of the audience. 

After his speech, several DA movers and shakers joined him on stage for a song and a dance.

Madikizela led a song about unity and time for change, reminiscent of the song sung by President Cyril Ramaphosa's supporters at the ANC conference in December last year and by the ANC in Parliament after Ramaphosa's "Thuma Mina" State of the Nation Address. 

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