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Political parties rev campaign engines

President Jacob Zuma on Friday revealed elections will take place on 7 May.

An election staffer checks an ID document of a voter. Picture: SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Leaders of most major political parties have come out swinging on Friday after it was announced elections would be held on 7 May.

President Jacob Zuma made the announcement earlier in the day.

Political parties are now kicking their campaigns into high gear.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) says it's going to launch an aggressive election campaign that will see it going across the entire country.

Secretary General Gwede Mantashe says they're ready to start talking to voters.

"We're going to have a very aggressive campaign. We'll be everywhere and we'll talk to everybody - those who love us and those who do not love us so much. We'll be knocking on doors."

ANC supporters wave the party's flags at it's Mangaung conference in 2012. Picture: GCIS.

Mantashe dismissed claims the elections were strategically planned to coincide with the 20-year anniversary of democracy.

"We can't postpone the elections beyond this point because it is the fifth elections."

But Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder is not convinced.

"I'm afraid that they might use the anniversary to build a lot of emotion, using state money. No party can compete with that."

He says his party is ready to fight for the smaller voices in the country.

"At this moment, minorities feel estranged and we say we can be the champion of those minorities, whether they be Khoisan, whether they're brown or whether they're Afrikaner. They [minority groups] ought to get a place as well."

The Democratic Alliance (DA), as the country's largest opposition party, says its support is going to continue growing.

Party leader Helen Zille says, "We have to go out there and tell people what the issues and choices are in South Africa. We have to build one nation with one future with growth and jobs.

Helen Zille casts her vote in the local government elections in May 2011. Picture: SAPA.

"We are ready, our candidates lists are finalised and I say bring it on. We've got our game plan, we've got our ducks in a row and I'm really looking forward to the campaign."

She says the short-lived merger with Agang SA won't affect the DA's chances.

AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele is also trying to shake off the disastrous events of the past two weeks.

Mamphele Ramphele and Helen Zille kiss after announcing the planned merger, 28 January 2014. Picture: @RodMacleod via Twitter.

"Our focus is on the country and the future. We refuse to get sidetracked by any issue whether it's them, or any other attack from any quarter."

She says her party is continually growing in support.

"South Africans of good will have come out of the woodworks. Many were afraid to publicly identify with us but they are coming out and supporting us at every level."

Ramphele says these elections will be the most important since 1994 because the government has lost its way since then.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) Leader Bantu Holomisa says his party will do better this time around.

"We're hoping to turn the situation around. Remember that almost all the political parties in the last election, except the DA, dropped somewhat."

He says the party is looking forward to the elections.

"As South Africans, we should consider ourselves lucky because in other countries elsewhere on the continent, governments are changed through the barrel of a gun."

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