ANC supporters carry a mock coffin during the rally in Soweto. The words on the coffin read, Sleep well Helen , in reference to Helen Zille.
Political parties used the closing rallies of their campaigns this weekend to fire up supporters and urge them to vote on Wednesday.
While DA leader Helen Zille addressed about 4 500 party faithful in the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha on Saturday, about 15 000 ANC supporters gathered at the Khayelitsha Stadium on Sunday to listen to a live broadcast of the ANC’s final rally in Joburg.
The biggest drawcard was the ANC’s Siyanqoba “we will win” rally at Soweto’s FNB stadium, where about 100 000 supporters gathered.
President Jacob Zuma’s message was one of municipal accountability and service delivery, while he again ran through the number of houses built and connected to basic services.
Also holding final rallies in Gauteng were the ACDP and PAC, while the Freedom Front Plus ended its campaign trail in Mokopane (Potgietersrus) on Saturday.
Elsewhere in Cape Town the UDM told about 3 000 supporters in Philippi township their ward councillors would keep communities informed and that dissatisfaction among ANC supporters over how councillors were nominated would be a growth opportunity for the party.
The message across the political party spectrum, regardless of manifesto promises?
Make your mark on Wednesday!
Voter turnout, say analysts, will be crucial, not only for the DA to prove its claim of increasing support among black voters, but also for the ANC to signal that dissatisfaction - at times violent - over the councillor nomination process, and over service delivery, had not damaged the party.
The other buzzword of these elections has been coalitions.
But how realistic talk of opposition co-operation against the ANC or the ANC’s possible need to find partners to maintain control remains to be seen after the votes have been counted.
At the live Siyanqoba broadcast in Khayelitsha, the mood among ANC leaders and officials was upbeat. Privately, many admit the campaign was nowhere six weeks ago, but mayoral candidate Tony Ehrenreich, has galvanised the campaign.
ANC heavyweight and national cabinet minister Trevor Manuel said Cape Town would be taken over. “Who do you want for mayor?” he asked the crowd. The reply: “Tony, Tony, Tony!”
“On May 18 we’re going to bury the rainbow madams,” said MK Veterans Association provincial leader Desmond Stevens, with reference to DA posters showing Zille, national spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko and mayoral candidate Patricia de Lille.
Cosatu’s backing and membership may prove crucial, as the DA on Saturday said it would be a close run.
Zille, who was warmly welcomed, told supporters they should give the DA a chance to prove that it was better at delivering services to all. ”We stand to make gains in towns and cities across the country because we have plans and we are bringing people together…
“No other party can match us when it comes to diversity and delivery. No other party is as committed to reconciliation,” she told an enthusiastic audience.
Over the past month, politicians have knocked on the doors of thousands of homes across the country, stuffed pamphlets into post boxes, hung posters from lamp-posts and held meetings in many a venue.
Babies were kissed, hands shaken and music CDs produced. Political heavyweights furiously traversed the country. This is set to continue right up to the last minute for Zuma and Zille.
The battlefields have been identified, from Tlokwe (Potchefstroom), where the ANC failed to register candidates in a number of wards, allegedly because of an administrative oversight, to Nelson Mandela Bay, where dissatisfaction with the administration is said to be so high that an opposition party coalition could be on the cards.
Tshwane may also present an outside chance of a coalition, while political analysts dismiss such claims for Joburg, regardless of the billing saga.
In Midvaal, the only DA-held council in Gauteng, the statue of apartheid architect HF Verwoerd sent political tempers soaring. It was finally taken down under cover of darkness.
DA councillor Christo Smith defected to the FF+ on Thursday. - Political Bureau