AFRICANGLOBE – Capacity crowds of ANC and EFF supporters on Sunday exuberantly greeted their favourite politicians as the parties held their final rallies ahead of the upcoming general elections.
A sea of green, yellow and black was created by around 95 000 ANC supporters gathered at FNB Stadium in Soweto.
Three overflow areas outside the stadium were also packed at the rally which was addressed by a leather-jacketed ANC president Jacob Zuma.
Further north in the province, in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, the Lucas “Masterpieces” Moripe stadium was transformed into a red sea by devotees of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
The party estimated 30,000 of its supporters had gathered to hear EFF leader Julius Malema – who was dressed in a fire-engine red boiler suit matching his trademark beret.
Meanwhile, on Sunday late morning, a bus driver transporting Democratic Alliance supporters to a party concert in Kliptown, was hospitalised after his vehicle was stoned.
Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said in a statement that there had been two stoning incidents in which three buses transporting party supporters were damaged. He said the buses had been “ambushed” by the ANC.
“One bus was so heavily stoned that it is no longer usable,” he said.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Neville Malila confirmed the incidents saying no arrests had yet been made. He said there was no indication of who had stoned the buses.
The crowd at the FNB stadium cheered as Zuma and top party officials made their way through a guard of honour formed by children waving party flags and dressed in khaki uniforms, known as Masopa-tsela (show the way).
Along with Zuma, deputy party president Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary general Gwede Mantashe, his deputy Jessie Duarte, treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, national chairwoman Baleka Mbete and party stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela waved to the crowd as they made their way onto the stage.
Earlier, motorbikes revved their engines around the stadium, as the crowd was entertained by musicians and dancers.
The ANC was also holding rallies in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where Zuma’s keynote address was streamed live.
During his speech, Zuma described the ANC’s election campaign as “exciting and vibrant”.
Zuma thanked people who had returned to the ANC after joining other parties and urged others in a similar position to rejoin the ruling party.
“They will be warmly received,” he said.
In Atteridgeville, excited screams of “yes, yes” greeted EFF leader Julius Malema as he arrived at his party’s rally.
The crowd jumped up and waved their arms in the air, with some even risking injury by climbing on top of the perimeter fence just to get a glimpse of Mr. Malema.
In a seemingly off-the-cuff speech, Julius Malema addressed the crowd on wide-ranging topics, promising his party had a new approach to improving amongst others: education, housing, job creation, women’s rights and poverty alleviation.
The presence of the Democratic Alliance was felt at their rivals’ rallies when a light aircraft exhibiting a banner saying “Vote DA on May 7” flew over both the Soweto and Atteridgeville stadiums.
However, at the ANC rally, this intervention appeared to go largely unnoticed by the crowd.
On Sunday, the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) made a call to South Africans not to take “selfies” in the ballot booth or of their ballot papers as it contravened the principle of a secret vote in a democracy.
The organisation urged people to rather take photographs of themselves outside voting station or of their inked thumbs to show that they had participated.