John Steenhuisen. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
John Steenhuisen. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

DA’s Steenhuisen feels the heat

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Oct 25, 2021

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DA leader John Steenhuisen faces a daunting task to retain his party’s control on municipalities such as the Midvaal and Tshwane in Gauteng.

The pressure on Steenhuisen followed after both the ANC and EFF unleashed its bigwigs such as President Cyril Ramaphosa and EFF’s Julius Malema to lodge massive election campaigns in Cape Town this past week in their separate bids to wrestle control away from the DA. Ramaphosa also took his campaign trail to Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape to unseat the DA’s Nqaba Bhanga as mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

John Steenhuisen. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Not only that, the governing party has also in its bid to retain control of the City of Joburg and reclaim Tshwane, roped in party stalwarts and former presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe, to assist them in their campaign.

But in these elections - both Mbeki and Motlanthe are at the forefront of ANC’s election campaigns in various parts of Gauteng while Steenhuisen - appears to be sole face of his party’s campaign - as his former party leaders such as Tony Leon appear to be have taken a back seat, leaving him alone in the uphill battle. Steenhuisen is his party’s drawcard in all its major rallies ahead of the November 1 local government elections.

Despite what appears to be his shortcomings - the 45-year-old leader put on a brave face yesterday when he appealed to voters to shun the ANC, EFF and independent candidates and vote for his party on November 1.

He was addressing supporters at the DA’s final rally at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, Joburg.

Steenhuisen styled his party as the only alternative party which would “properly manage dysfunctional municipalities” and deliver services to distraught communities of South Africa.

He appealed to voters to cast their votes for the DA and forget about those political parties “who beg for your loyalty because once, long ago, they played a role in the liberation struggle”.

It was not only the ANC and other liberation movements that suffered the DA’s onslaught as Steenhuisen also lodged a veiled attack on his former party leader Mmusi Maimane - who through his One South Africa movement is in full backing of independent candidates contesting the elections.

In his attack Steenhuisen urged voters to “forget about gimmicks like independent candidates who don’t stand for any particular values, policies or manifesto offers and cannot be held to account only of these things once the votes are cast”.

Steenhuisen was adamant that elections were about service delivery, saying it was about infrastructure maintenance, and the preservation of public funds and to make sure that funds were well spent.

“If you can do these things well, your municipality has every chance to succeed. But if you fail to do the basics, your municipality will fail. That is guaranteed.

“And by fail, I mean the total collapse of a municipality’s service delivery, the total collapse of its finances and ultimately the total collapse of its local economy.

“That is not some scary prediction for one day in the future. That has already happened in dozens of municipalities across the country.

He said if we want to save these places, politicians have to be honest about what was wrong with them, saying “we have to find a common thread that runs through all these failing towns and cities - a thread that we can identify as being responsible for this decay.”

Steenhuisen boldly stated that the ANC was allegedly responsible for the collapse of these municipalities, saying “the mark of the ANC is still like fingerprints on a crime scene across every single failed town and city”.

He said the DA could stop the collapse and to rescue these towns and cities from decay

“There are many differences between our two parties - our political ideologies are very different and our approaches to the economy are polar opposites - but arguably the biggest difference between us has to do with our values. Our motivation for doing what we do.

“In the DA, we believe the people come first, not the party. And this means that every decision we take in government places the interests of the people front and centre.

“We don’t fill our governments with ill-equipped cadres who have no skills and no interest in public service. We don’t bloat our governments to the point where cadres’ salaries suck up the entire budget. And we don’t tolerate poor performance or corruption. There is no recycling and redeployment of disgraced cadres in the DA.”

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