Senior politicians trade barbs, campaign at eNCA townhall debate in the Cape's Mitchells Plain

Senior Western Cape politicians gathered before a raucous crowd at Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, to say why they believe their parties deserved an X next to their names on ballot papers on May 8 - election day.

Home to more than 6 million people, the Western Cape, a traditional stronghold of the Democratic Alliance, will be a key election province and will offer a glimpse into the state of politics and political parties nationally.

Key issues in the province's biggest metropolitan area, Cape Town, include drug abuse and gangsterism, transportation, infrastructure and housing, water scarcity as well as politics of race and identity. 

READ: 2019 Elections: 30 532 voters abroad applied, 29 334 approved – IEC

The first politician to make his case at the eNCA town hall debate was Alan Winde, Western Cape Community Safety MEC and the DA's premier candidate. He spoke of the economic successes of the DA-led government in the Western Cape.

"In the last 10 years, we have enabled more than 500 000 jobs, half a million jobs, in this province".

Winde went on to state that his proudest moment last year was the announcement that "75% of all jobs created in South Africa were created in this province, 25% in all of the other provinces put together."

He would later go on to call Ebrahim Rasool "brown bag Rasool" and state that "the ANC's candidate list looks like a Bosasa AGM". He was referring to facilities management company Bosasa, which was implicated in alleged state capture.

Rasool, one time premier of the Western Cape and ANC Western Cape elections head, admitted to the public that "we have had a devastating decade over the last 10 years in this country and I want to say a lot of it has had to do with the governance we've had in this country, even from the ANC."

Rasool continued that "we are now in a situation, where we have a president, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who needs an enormously strong mandate if we are to give effect to the Zondo commission, the Nugent commission and all those commissions that are trying to find and identify those that have been corrupt, those who have stolen. And we must put them in jail."

GOOD party leader Patricia de Lille spoke about the expectations in the early years of democracy and the reality on the ground being "just too far apart".

In a retort to Winde, she said that it was easy enough to bandy about statistics, but they were rendered largely moot if the effects were not being felt in disadvantaged areas, such as Manenberg, Hanover Park, Langa, Gugulethu and Swellendam.

De Lille continued, saying of all the jobs that have been created in the past year in the Western Cape, 26 000 were created in Cape Town under her leadership.

Answering a question about her numerous political homes of the past, De Lille assured the crowd that her values had not changed unlike her party membership, but that the "DA has changed" and that it did not want to address the spatial legacy of apartheid in the Western Cape.

The Freedom Front Plus's candidate for Western Cape premier, Peter Marais then took over the microphone.

Speaking about statistics that indicated that a majority of people of colour spoke Afrikaans in the province, his position was that there was little sense in Afrikaans being phased out as a first language in institutions in the province, from schools, police stations and universities.

Marais continued to outline what he saw as an attack on Christian values and an attempt to force a eurocentric model on an African state.

The EFF's Melikhaya Xego noted that the election theme was "our land and jobs now".

He continued that "all the atrocities of the land dispossession" started in the Cape. Towing the party line, Xego stated his party's intent to create jobs through strengthening state capacity.

Referring to a statement made regarding coalitions, Xego noted: "We are in charge of the plug. If the DA doesn't do what we want, we pull the plug".