There was a robust and invigorating debate at Islamia Auditorium on Wednesday night, as the key contenders in the upcoming Local Government Elections were put to the test. The Great Cape Debate was hosted by VOC, Radio Islam and broadcast on ITV in front of live audience, with moderators Shafiq Morton, Maulana Sulaiman Ravat and Mufti Yusuf Moosagie.
On the panel was Democratic Alliance MP Shaykh Shahid Esau, African National Congress councillor Jerimia Thuynsma, Roscoe Palm from Economic Freedom Fighter, Congress of the People’s Shehnaz Cassim, Al Jama’ah party leader Ganief Hendricks, Democratic Independent chairperson Anwar Adams and Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa leader in the Metropole, Richard Cock.
While the political debate was not as packed as expected, what it lacked in size it made up for in energy and spirit. Supporters from the EFF and ICOSA came dressed in red, carrying banners and cheering for their party representative. No party was exempt from being jeered.
Political candidates were challenged on their election manifestos, policies and party controversies. During the question and answer session, audience members posed no-holds-barred questions to candidates on contentious issues such as District Six, Nkandla and the Israeli-Palestine conflict. While some politicians kept a calm head and stuck to the party script, others lost their cool, responding emotively at times.
Amongst the key issues raised in the QnA session were the spending of the ward budgets and service delivery to poor communities on the Cape Flats. Others were vocal about the gang crisis and the daily service delivery protests in townships. The topic that sparked intense discussion was the DA and COPE’s ambiguous stance on the Israeli-Palestine conflict, a matter close to the heart of the Cape Muslim community.
“I don’t think I’m going to vote in the elections. There is nothing of benefit coming from these parties. They are all politicians at the end of the day,” said Raghma Abrahams.
“I was hoping someone would address the drug crisis facing our youth. That is one of the major challenges facing our society today. Here was an opportunity to address a serious problem and propose a solution…yet we heard nothing,” said Fahmeeda Nasiep.
“Its basically the same promises we hear all the time. Politicians simply want votes. They will say anything to the masses, if it means they can get more votes,” added Masood Hendricks.
“These politicians have no grasp of the issues facing our people. All their promises are pie-in-the-sky. These candidates need a reality check.” VOC