The three major political parties wrapped up their campaigns ahead of the national elections with final rallies in Gauteng over the weekend. 

By Imaan Moosa and Lwandile Shange

Campaigning for the 2019 national elections wrapped up on the weekend of May 4 and May 5 with major contenders the Democratic Alliance (DA),  the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) holding their final rallies in Gauteng. The youth were central to all the rallies with many of the leaders making impressive promises to the country’s young people. 

On Saturday, May 4, South Africa’s opposition party, the DA held its Phetogo rally at Dobsonville stadium in Soweto and most of those in attendance were significantly younger voters. 

Youth supporters of the DA pose with the number one gesture representing their party. Photo: Lwazi Maseko.

DA youth leader, Luyolo Mphithi, told Wits Vuvuzela he was concerned that jobs are scarce in the country despite the youth possessing the necessary  qualifications.

“We have young people who have gone to university, who have received qualifications but have not been able to find jobs. So what we’re saying is that the centre of these elections is about growing the economy so that young people are able to find jobs,” said Mphithi.

At Orlando Stadium on Sunday, May 5, the EFF’s Tshela Thupa rally kicked off with leader Julius Malema vowing to lift thousands of black South Africans from poverty through education and increased welfare benefits for children and the elderly.

“As long as you are academically deserving, you must enter [tertiary institutions],” he said. “Your matric results are money. Let your matric results secure you a seat at a TVET [Technical Vocational Education and Training] college, at university. We want an educated nation,” Malema said.

EFF leader Julius Malema arrives at the Orlando Stadium. Photo: Tumelo Modiba

In his keynote speech at the ANC’s Siyanqoba rally at Ellis Park Stadium on May 5, President Cyril Ramaphosa committed to investing R1.4 trillion in the economy to create jobs, especially for the youth.  

“This is why the ANC is expanding free higher education and investing more in TVET colleges to develop the skills our economy needs,” said Ramaphosa.

He drew particular focus to the youth. “Work experience must be done away with and two years of early childhood education be made compulsory,” Ramaphosa said.

“We will not allow another generation of South Africans to be confined to a life of poverty,” he added.

ANC supporters chant and sing as they make their way through the entrance of Ellis Park stadium at the 2019 Siyanqoba rally on May 5. Photo: Imaan Moosa.

Koketso Poho, former chairperson of the Wits Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command at Wits, told Wits Vuvuzela that he grew up between the “haves and the have-nots” and joining the EFF was a way for him to find expression.

“The EFF is the opportunity for black people to finally get the liberation owed to them. On May 9, there will be a new country,” Poho said.

Nonkululeko Mntambo, former Wits South African Students’ Congress chairperson and an ANC supporter, told Wits Vuvuzela that she believes in the ruling party because of its 25-year history in power without violent means.

“I think the ANC has kept South Africa together so far,” Mntambo said. “I think it can do better by re-inviting the youth to the table.”

Ramaphosa ended his address by calling those in power to account, saying that those found guilty of corruption will not be allowed to hold positions in the party or parliament.

“The era of impunity is over. We are now in an era of accountability,” he said. 

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the DA, trumpeted Ramaphosa’s call to eradicate poverty, corruption and unemployment once the DA is voted into power.

“This is not a popularity contest. It’s not a pageant. This is about competence. I’m not asking you to marry me, I’m merely asking you to employ a government with a proven track record,” said Maimane.

While Ramaphosa used his speech to call his own party members to account, Malema turned outward and used his speech as an opportunity to call out Wits vice chancellor Professor Adam Habib about Habib’s questions about the placement of EFF posters in affluent suburbs such as Houghton and Umhlanga.

“They are where they are because of the poor who come from Alexander, who come from Umlazi and work in those places. We are not looking for you, Habib. We are looking for the cleaners. We are looking for the domestic workers. Those are our people. We go where they are,” he said.

The national elections get underway on May 8. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Eager ANC supporters start to take their seats at the 2019 Siyanqoba Rally at Ellis Park Stadium. Photo: Imaan Moosa