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Battle of promises begins

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The battle to win the hearts of voters ahead of the November 1 local government elections intensified at the weekend with the country’s ‘big three’ setting out their plans for the next five years should their organisation be voted to power.

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THE BATTLE to win the hearts of voters ahead of the November 1 local government elections intensified at the weekend with the country’s ‘big three’ setting out their plans for the next five years should their organisation be voted to power.

While thousands of people gathered at Gandhi Square in the Joburg CBD on Sunday to listen to EFF leader Julius Malema detailing how they planned to tackle challenges confronting South Africans in their municipalities, the DA opted for a virtual launch on Saturday, while ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa took to the streets of Ekurhuleni before presenting a preview of the ANC manifesto which he is set to launch on Monday.

The EFF also used the occasion as part of marking what would have been the 85th birthday of late Struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. The event culminated in the renaming of the EFF headquarters at Gandhi Square after Madikizela-Mandela.

EFF leader Julius Malema speaking during the launch of the party’s 2021 local government election manifesto at Ghandi Square. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

The land issue dominated Malema’s address, with the party vowing to build RDP houses next to affluent areas, such as Sandton in Joburg.

Those living in upmarket and suburban areas will also be expected to pay a “property wealth tax” to subsidise recipients of Sassa grants.

Malema also promised heavy tax rebates to small businesses that were prepared to revive defunct factories and create job opportunities for unemployed people.

He said the EFF’s election manifesto covered the needs of all people, including the rural poor and those deprived of fishing licences.

The “property wealth tax” was an apparent major change to similar comments he made two weeks ago, while addressing supporters in Bophelong. At that time, he insinuated that only white people would be expected to make such a payment, to subsidise those who are recipients of Sassa grants.

Speaking at Sunday’ launch, however, the EFF leader said: “The property wealth tax will affect those that live in big houses and have big yards. We are going to tax them because they are rich, they must subsidise the poor.

“It means that Dali (advocate Dali Mpofu SC), who lives in Houghton, must pay for a person. [It] includes myself. I live in Sandton. I must pay the property wealth tax.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen.

DA leader John Steenhuisen meanwhile urged voters to choose a party “big enough to bring change, and the only party big enough to keep the ANC and EFF out of your town”.

“I want to urge every voter who is concerned about the precarious state of their town, or who might be scared for the future of their family, or who doesn’t know whether their business can survive another five years of the status quo, to read this document.

“We want you to visualise the potential of your town once we’ve evicted the ANC government, replaced it with a DA government and applied this blueprint for the next five years. One by one, our small towns are becoming economic ghost towns. But, fellow South Africans, ours is also a country where small islands of excellence still exist in this sea of local government failure and neglect.”

He made reference to DA-run councils saying the contrast between these municipalities and those run by the ANC is staggering.

On the land question, Steenhuisen said: “We will also continue to push the national government to release suitable tracts of state-owned land in cities to help us deliver quality housing options close to work opportunities and major transport routes.”

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa said the ANC’s manifesto will speak of how the party will build vibrant and safe communities.

“It is these candidates, once elected, who will be our builders, to correct the mistakes of the past, and, working together with national and provincial government, to build strong municipalities that involve and serve all residents,” said Ramaphosa.

“We have just over a month left before we must all go out to cast our vote. We call on the voters of this country to engage with these candidates about the ANC manifesto and their plans to improve people’s lives.

“And, on Monday, the 1st of November, let us go out in huge numbers to vote ANC and give these candidates a clear and overwhelming mandate to build better communities and achieve a better life for all.”

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