No election date yet - opposition parties unhappy

JANUARY 15, 2016

Opposition parties want the date of this year’s local government elections, as not knowing is holding back their preparations.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, who will be contesting municipal elections for the first time, wanted the date be announced as soon as possible.

"The person who announces the date of elections is the president of the ANC it means the ANC is aware of the date of elections,"  EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said.

The party wanted to know by when the list of candidates had to be finalised and when it had to announce its manifesto and hold rallies, as this took much preparation.

Parties should at least be told in which month the election was going to take place, as campaigning for three months was different to campaigning for six months.

However, he said the EFF was ready for the local government elections.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said an election campaign was costly.

"The fundamental issue is we have to get ready, and keep going."

He said the DA would probably hold its official election launch in March, although the party had already been announcing some of its mayoral candidates.

Athol Trollip would be its Nelson Mandela Bay mayoral candidate and Solly Msimanga its Tshwane candidate. The Johannesburg candidate would be announced on Saturday.

The DA and EFF had vowed to unseat the ANC in the country’s major metros.

Maimane said campaigning would be more intense this year and not just involve normal door-to-door visits.

"We've amplified our ground work more than we have ever done before in other years. It has been a focus of mine. It's about how do we get the party more active," he said.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister David van Rooyen on Thursday said there were still some "touch-ups" needed before the election date was announced.

In terms of the Constitution, the elections had to take place between May 18 and August 16.

The ANC said it had been hard at work and was selecting candidates. It was expected to hold its manifesto launch in Nelson Mandela Bay in March.

"Once we have that manifesto on local government then we will go to the people," the ANC's head of elections Nomvula Mokonyane said.

They wanted to tell people what the party had achieved in the last 5 years, and how it would meet the National Development Plan’s goals in each area, to make it relevant to residents there.

The National Freedom Party said it would have liked the date to be announced sooner rather than later, but was happy with Van Rooyen's explanation.

NFP secretary general, Professor Nhlanhla Khubisa, said the party's national working committee was putting a national campaign programme together and finalising its manifesto.

The NFP would focus on KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, and Mpumalanga, where it already had ward councillors.

"We are going to capitalise on what we have. That is our start and then we will also be looking at other provinces," Khubisa said.

Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said his party's problem was funding. The party had already started campaigning and would try to target every area.

The elections would not be free and fair, he said.

"I always said all elections that I have known myself since 1994 have never been free or fair," Buthelezi said.

The Congress of the People said it was difficult to develop a programme without knowing the election date.

"I think many of us have a sense that the ruling party is trying to choose when the mood is favourable for them," Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said.

His party was working "intensively" to put its structures together. Cope was optimistic about doing well in Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, and the Northern Cape.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said he was worried by rumours that the elections would only take place in August.

"That uncertainty is going to be costly for some small parties," he said.

The UDM announced its manifesto in December last year and was busy with nomination of candidates and lists.

Key to the campaign would be door-to-door visits. Campaigning would only start once the UDM's provincial offices opened on Monday.

The party would focus on Limpopo, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and North West.

The Freedom Front Plus said it was a disadvantage not knowing when the election would be held.

"As a political party you always want more time to get your message spread, especially as a smaller opposition party," leader Pieter Mulder said.

He was expecting the date to be announced in March.

"It's always bad if there is that uncertainty from March onwards and the IEC can't do its planning and we can't do our planning."

The FF Plus had been focusing on the Western Cape, Limpopo, and Free State.