UDM soldiers on in its quiet way

CityPress - - News - HLENGIWE NHLABATHI news@city­press.co.za

The United Demo­cratic Move­ment (UDM) has put on a brave face as the top three political par­ties dom­i­nate head­lines and brag about at­tract­ing thou­sands of their sup­port­ers to their ral­lies.

The UDM launched its Gaut­eng man­i­festo with­out the fan­fare of the big­ger par­ties last week and hopes are dim that its planned roll-out in other prov­inces and re­gions will at­tract vot­ers.

With­out ac­cess to the cash of the big­ger par­ties, the UDM is forced to be re­source­ful and to rely on vol­un­teers and work­ing harder to get its mes­sage across. Its leader, Bantu Holomisa, is bet­ting on snatch­ing con­trol of some mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties by sell­ing the party’s “strong stance on ethics and good gov­er­nance” line to po­ten­tial vot­ers.

He told City Press on Satur­day that their man­i­festo had put his party in a strong po­si­tion in vot­ers’ minds ahead of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions.

“Peo­ple lis­ten when we speak. We have tried in our small way to be a rea­son­able party and to show di­rec­tion,” said Holomisa. He is hop­ing to cap­i­talise on the ram­pant fac­tion­al­ism within the ANC, where prospec­tive can­di­dates who fail to make it on to the party’s lists stand as in­de­pen­dents. “Those peo­ple who will be vot­ing for that can­di­date might de­cide to give their vote to the other par­ties,” he said.

In terms of prospects, the UDM has mod­est tar­gets and wants to use these elec­tions as a step­ping stone for the 2019 gen­eral elec­tions. Holomisa said he would be sat­is­fied if the UDM man­aged to win even one mu­nic­i­pal­ity. His main tar­get is the East­ern Cape’s King Sa­bata Dalindyebo mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which the UDM lost to the ANC when floor-cross­ing was per­mis­si­ble.

As with all pre­vi­ous elec­tions, small par­ties such as the UDM are up against the big bud­gets of the ANC and the DA. Holomisa be­lieves that both par­ties are at an ad­van­tage when it comes to elec­tion­eer­ing be­cause they have greater ac­cess to state re­sources.

“You can see the dif­fer­ence, and that is why they fight off par­ty­fund­ing leg­is­la­tion. They know they will be ex­posed. They are us­ing tax­pay­ers’ money.”

About 100 000 UDM posters would be erected this month: two for each ward the party is con­test­ing.

While con­fi­dent of a good turnout, Holomisa is hop­ing that the wave of anti-Ja­cob Zuma protests will bring out vot­ers.

“Once peo­ple don’t go and vote, chances are that the sta­tus quo will re­main,” he said.

Bantu Holomisa

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