Kristian Rouz — South Africa's main opposition party, the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA), has launched its manifesto for the upcoming general election in May. The DA said two and a half decades of governance by the left-wing African National Congress (ANC) has diminished the rainbow nation's economic potential, and produced rife corruption, which DA officials say could change.
DA officials stressed the South African economy is currently plagued by rampant unemployment reaching up to 30 percent, low throughput efficiency of many companies, including state-owned monopolies, and thriving corruption that involves top government officials, their family members, and business affiliates of the latter.
"Our leaders realised they could make money out of every job, out of every contract", DA leader Mmusi Maimane said at a rally at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg Saturday. "It meant a better life for some… and they forgot about the rest of us. While too many of our people didn't have water, some were drinking the finest champagne".
Maimane blasted the ANC's left-wing rhetoric, saying the ruling party's identity politics is still largely based off the legacy of apartheid, which is becoming increasingly irrelevant after decades of all-inclusive elections. Maimane stressed blaming apartheid for the existing inequality and poverty makes no sense after 25 years of uninterrupted ANC rule.
"Those who started off as being liberators ended up looting from our people", the DA leader said.
But DA officials disagree, saying singling out South Africa's white minority would hurt the nation's economy, erode property rights, and damage the nation's investment appeal.
Maimane stressed his party is a party that represents all South Africans, and is committed to defending interests of every citizen of his country, regardless of race and societal status.
"Black people, white people, Indian people, coloured people — we are a party for all South Africans", Maimane said.
His remarks come after several statements by top ANC officials and their EFF affiliates, who made controversial claims targeting the presence of white people in the country. The DA firmly rejected such statements, winning praise from the rainbow nation's Afrikaner community.
His only enemy, Maimane stressed, is corruption.
"I want to say to all the politicians, if you are corrupt, you can expect to spend 15 years in jail", the DA leader said. "I'm going to introduce an anti-corruption unit staffed by both specialist prosecutors and investigators".
Back in 2014, the DA enjoyed 22-percent support nationwide. The party's electoral support has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and the DA was able to form a provincial government in the Western Cape, as well as municipal governments in the capital Pretoria, the nation's economic powerhouse of Johannesburg, and several other cities.
Experts say there is a solid chance the ANC could lose the upcoming race in the wake of nationwide resentment to the land reform, several corruption scandals involving former President Jacob Zuma and the powerful Gupta family, as well as the ongoing sweeping power outages related to alleged corruption at national power utility Eskom.
"They're definitely going to do better than last time", prominent South African political analyst Nomavenda Mathiane said.
Maimane also said South Africa's 27-percent jobless rate, the ongoing $30-billion debt crisis, and a lingering threat of recession and "junk" credit ratings are intolerable. DA officials stressed South Africa was once the most advanced nation on the continent, and is a major producer of precious metals and other commodities — and yet is facing rampant poverty.
"We need change and we need it now — this is not the change my father talked about", Maimane said.
DA supporters at the rally said they have nothing to lose, and are disappointed with the ANC, whose 25 years in power haven't produced the positive change they had hoped for.
"It is the only party talking truth — the others aren't", DA supporter Innocent Mabuza said. "Why should I not go for the DA?"
The DA need to win 112 seats in the National Assembly to form a majority of at least 201 seats in the 400-member legislature. The ANC needs to defend 49 seats out of the 249 seats it controls now.