Ramaphosa, Malema 'slug it out' in Soweto to woo prospective voters

19 November 2023 - 09:20
By Kgothatso Madisa
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa doing door-to-door in Soweto during the IEC voter registration weekend.
Image: ANC ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa doing door-to-door in Soweto during the IEC voter registration weekend.

Soweto became a political battleground on Saturday as the ANC and the EFF attempted to woo potential voters ahead of the 2024 national elections.

As part of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) voter registration weekend, the leaders of both the ANC and EFF criss-crossed the township. shaking hands and lifting babies.

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa visited a voting station in Meadowlands, embarked on a door-to-door in the area and a walkabout at Maponya Mall, while EFF president Julius Malema was in Pimville, Meadowlands, Orlando East and elsewhere.

With around 2-million residents, Soweto is going to be critical in the upcoming election, especially because Gauteng is expected to be closely contested.

Malema said Soweto was critical in these upcoming elections and that the EFF remains the only threat to ANC’s rule.

“Once we take Soweto, South Africa is gone that’s why we are here,” said Malema.

“There is a no-go area for the EFF because in our own discipline, our members are told don’t stop other parties from campaigning. We’re calling on other parties to be tolerant and not fight other political parties — especially the EFF, because the EFF is the practical threat in Soweto. If there is any party that threatens the ANC in Soweto, it is the EFF.”

Ramaphosa, on the other hand, said he remained confident about the ANC's prospects in the area.

He said he spent the day going into people’s houses to listen to their concerns and encountered both criticism and praise of the ANC. In one house he visited, he lauded the ANC-led government for assisting the family — via the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which is said to have paid for one of the young adults in the household to study toward a teaching qualification, and social grants for the children and elders.

Ramaphosa said he enjoyed interacting with residents of Soweto who told him they were registered and ready to vote.

“It’s almost like they want the election to be next week, but of course the election is only in 2024, so we’re looking at people who are really primed to go and express their wishes about where they want the country to go.

“For me to interact with people like this, it’s really heartwarming to be able to hear them and to get into their houses and to hear their aspirations, but also to hear our own report card where they are telling us where we are doing good and where they want us to do better.”

“There is nothing better than this — listening to them, getting into their homes and interacting with them. I’ve been doing that for most of the day and being here with the premier and other leaders is really wonderful.

“Some of them say no matter what our challenges are, they want us to succeed as a country. That to me is the greatest news I heard today.”