Eric Naki
Political Editor
2 minute read
31 May 2021
4:52 am

Will DA’s virtual rallies pay off?

Eric Naki

'We have our eyes firmly set on a target, and that target is 27 October. Nothing will deter us,' Steenhuisen said.

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Supplied

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is the first political party in South Africa to conduct its rally and elective congress on a virtual platform, which put it ahead of other political parties in preparations for the upcoming local government elections.

The other two major parties, the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) relied mainly exploiting social media – Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp – to reach to their supporters.

This as their traditional campaign methods of holding mass rallies and major gatherings in stadiums and huge indoor venues were hampered by Covid-19 restrictions. But this does not place the DA in a better position than the rest for the main opposition party’s electoral performance has been dwindling. Whether virtual rallies will pay off for the DA remained to be seen.

Despite the use of technology, the DA performed poorly in some wards at the recent by-elections in Tshwane and Johannesburg City metros, which indicated a continuing trend that began with its bad showing in the 2019 national elections.

It decided not to contest the Tshwane black township wards while it lost two wards to the Patriotic Alliance in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg,

After holding two successful political events on a virtual platforms – its elective federal congress where leader John Steenhuisen was elected and the recent political rally – the party mastered the art of infusing modern technology into its political activities.

With the Covid-19 pandemic projected to continue devastating SA, innovation is set to be the norm in political campaigning in political party system as leaders try to reach their voters.

South Africa remains on lockdown, with restrictions making it impossible to hold regular mass rallies. But the DA found a way around the restrictions to the “Blue Wave”.

It organised watching parties in Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Upington, Lusikisiki, Richards Bay, Polokwane, Saldanha Bay and Soweto, with some members following the proceedings online at party provincial offices and at their homes.

Steenhuisen boasted about his party’s achievement.

“We innovate to find a way around, over or through, and then we get on with it. We know we have a big and urgent job to do, and there is no time to waste.

“We have our eyes firmly set on a target, and that target is 27 October. Nothing will deter us,” Steenhuisen said.

He said other parties were caught napping and unprepared “to share this urgency and this eagerness” to go to the polls.

“Our opponents are trying their best to wriggle their way out of it. They’re either simply not prepared for this campaign, or they fear what voters might say to them on the day.

“They talk about postponing, and they make up excuses, but we will have none of that.

“The DA is ready for the challenge and the contest. We started our preparations a long time ago, when others were still asleep, and we are ready to take our message to South Africans in every community across the country,” he said.