Cape Town – With mere weeks before the May 8 elections, the DA in the Western Cape has conceded the race for the province with the ANC is neck and neck.
It fears receiving less than 50% of the vote, allowing opposition parties, particularly the ANC and EFF, to lead a coalition to dislodge it from power in the only province it governs.
The DA has now appealed to voters not to “waste” their votes on smaller parties for fear of allowing the ANC and EFF in.
This has been denounced as old, apartheid-style "swart gevaar" tactics meant to scare white and coloured voters.
The polls show that the DA’s support was at 50% and the ANC at 33%.
DA premier candidate in the Western Cape Alan Winde said: “Yes we do feel pressure, obviously for the last 10 years this is the first time they (ANC) opened up and said we messed up, but now we are ready to govern.
“They are trying to run on the back of Cyril [Ramaphosa], and that does not seem to be working for them.
"We are the biggest party in the Western Cape and the overall goal is that we remain the majority party.”
The DA has circulated e-mails and text messages “cautioning” voters to not vote for small parties, saying the “ANC could grab power through a coalition with the EFF and other small parties”.
The party has also circulated posters in the province to encourage potential voters to register to vote to “keep the ANC and EFF” out of government in the Western Cape.
The DA has been advancing the narrative that the EFF and ANC were in cahoots. Winde urged voters not to allow that partnership to succeed in the province.
ANC leader in the Western Cape Xolani Sotashe said they were not surprised that the DA was employing “tactics”.
“The fact that Alan can write such a thing is telling … he is feeling the heat.
"We are not surprised that they will now resort to those tactics. We are not in this game to lose.
“The Western Cape cannot belong to one party, that is why we have elections to contest each other. The manifesto of the ANC has been well-received by constituencies.”
The ANC has been sitting in the opposition benches in the Western Cape for the last 10 years.
He said they were confident that the ANC will emerge victorious.
“It is still early days, it might change and we do not know. But the fact that there is an indication of the trend that is taking us upwards, it is a positive thing to us. You can feel the mood of the new dawn is well received.”
ACDP Western Cape premier candidate Ferlon Christians said the DA were playing “old, fear-mongering tactics”.
“This is an old tactic, in 2016 they did that, we went to the IEC to lay a complaint, nothing happened about that. The ACDP has gained a lot of traction and the DA knows they are not going to get the majority in the Western Cape, now they are playing fear tactics. It is completely unethical.”
Christians said the notion that growing parties had little power was wrong.
“In the PR system, every vote counts. It’s not true that voting for a smaller party holds no weight. It actually reduces the majority in that province. It’s about voting with your conscience for a party that represents your best interest,” he said.
Melikhaya Xego, the EFF provincial chairperson, echoed Christians’s sentiments, saying: “These are old things when Tony Leon was leading he used these tactics of creating fear in the people. This is the resemblance of ‘die swart gevaar’ of the apartheid era.
"The DA started as a small party and got to where it is now. For them to discourage people to interact with smaller parties is opportunistic, it shows their intolerance to those opposed to them and their policy.”
Meanwhile, a poll conducted by Citizen Surveys showed that despite Helen Zille’s controversies, she still had a strong effect on DA voters, with results indicating that 52% of DA supporters preferred her over incumbent Mmusi Maimane, who only garnered the favour of 30%. A total of 17% preferred them equally.