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Opposition in final push for votes in South African polls

Published on 03/05/2014

South Africa's leading opposition party made a final push for votes Saturday ahead of next week's hotly fought election, warning the ruling ANC is in for a rude shock.

The Democratic Alliance held its final campaign rally at a vast events centre in Johannesburg’s upmarket suburb of Northriding.

“The ANC has become arrogant because they believe that the voters will carry on voting for them, whatever they do,” said leader Helen Zille.

“Well, they are in for a big shock on Wednesday.”

South Africans go to the polls on May 7 to elect provincial leaders and legislators. The lawmakers will then elect a president from the party which garners the most numbers of votes.

A slowing economy, high unemployment and rampant government corruption have been the DA’s trump cards in this year’s election.

Switching between English, Xhosa, Afrikaans and at times throwing in slogans in Sotho, Zille said her party was the “only hope for positive change” in South Africa.

She hit out at President Jacob Zuma, contrasting his leadership with that of fellow ANC leaders Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, who she said stewarded the country toward economic growth and development.

Zille claimed that during the last five years under Zuma conditions had deteriorated for the country’s poor majority because the ANC’s current crop of leaders “believe they will rule forever.”

“They have forgotten about the voters who put them in power.”

“We demand change — less corruption, better services and more jobs,” she said to wild applause from a sea of supporters in blue at the 18,000-seater Coca Cola Dome.

Despite growing disillusionment with the African National Congress, an Ipsos poll on Friday gave the party that has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994, a fresh landslide victory.

The survey predicts the ANC will win with 63 percent,a slight drop from the 65.9 percent it got in the last vote in 2009.

Ipsos forecasts the DA would get 22 percent of the vote, up nearly six percentage points from the last election and would retain control of the Western Cape province.