“Let us be brave and give change a chance,” Mmusi Maimane told more than 10 000 Democratic Alliance supporters at Dobsonville stadium in Soweto.
South Africans go to the polls on Wednesday in one of the
most competitive national elections since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC), which led the struggle to end apartheid, has won every election since then.
But addressing his final and biggest rally before the vote,
Maimane said it was time for change as the country battles corruption, poverty
and high unemployment.
“Today the choice is between fear and bravery. If South Africans were not brave, I bet you apartheid would still be in place.
“We are brave and we are going to show courage and hope for change in this election”.
He slammed the ANC for degenerating from “leaders in
the struggle for freedom” to those who now “stand directly in the way
“They were once our liberators but today we need to be liberated from them,” Maimane told the cheering crowd in his home township.
A sea of blue-clad supporters packed the stadium for a
liberal group that has struggled to shed its image as a party for middle-class
The DA has hammered away on the ANC’s failure to deliver
Mandela’s dream of a prosperous and equal South Africa.
Donald Mlangeni, 28, said in the last election in 2014 he
had voted for the ANC, but now he will go with the DA.
“We are going to put an end to corruption,” he said, complaining that he struggles to get access to such basics as water at his house. “I think the DA will bring change. At least let’s give them a chance”.
Ketsie Kobedi, 67, echoed a view driven by disappointment
with the ANC that things were actually better under white rule.
“We want to go back to the white people era when things were in order. We don’t trust the ANC because of corruption,” she said.
Pre-election polls have all showed that the ANC and the DA are likely to lose support with Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) likely to make huge gains.
Voter turnout on the day is largely expected to play a
crucial role in how the elections go. All eyes will be on whether the ANC will
retain the majority vote. While that is expected to be the case nationally, at
provincial level, coalitions could become the norm.
Coalition negotiations will be a whole different subplot. Malema has gone on record saying the EFF will not be willing with work with the DA at any level, but would happily sit down to talk with the ANC.