ANC to target women's vote

The party also warned opposition parties they're in for a hard time at the 2014 elections.

FILE: ANC flags at the party's Mangaung conference. Picture: GCIS

PARKTOWN - The ruling African National Congress (ANC) says it will be counting on the votes of South Africa's women in next year's elections while also paying attention to the needs of the country's ambitious middle class.

The party's Jessie Duarte and campaign co-ordinator Amos Masondo offered insight into the ANC'S election strategy on Monday, saying while polls go up and down, what's important is the sentiment on the ground.

"Where we are strongest is amongst women in this country, between the ages of 18 and 65 and woman in South Africa represent 53 percent of the country's population," said Duarte.

She also says there are 9 million people who are not registered to vote but are eligible to do so.

At the same time, she warned opposition parties, saying new parties are welcome but they should not expect an easy ride.

"Really, no holds barred, if you put yourself out like a toffee, then you must also expect to be chewed."

Duarte says the party's economic message is that South Africa is open for business and is looking for partners while trying to increase government's involvement through state-owned enterprises.

Duarte and Masondo were also drawn into answering questions about the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Marikana, the 'Zuma spy tapes' and disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule.

Masondo says the party is helping Cosatu deal with internal turbulence as unity within the tripartite alliance is a key element of their election strategy.

The scandal around Cosatu's General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi exposed what is widely believed to be deep division within the trade union federation.

Duarte says the spy tapes issue is for government to deal with while Pule's actions are receiving the highest possible attention and may lead to further disciplinary action.

Pule began a 15-day suspension as a Member of Parliament (MP) on Wednesday as part of the punishment handed down by Parliament after she was found guilty of breaching the code of conduct for MPs and willfully misleading the Ethics Committee that investigated her.

She was given the maximum penalty after an ethics probe found she failed to declare her relationship with Phosane Mngqibisa, or his financial interests as required by law.

Pule's punishment includes being fined a month's salary in addition to the loss of her MP privileges for 15 days and Tuesday's reprimand.