Despite the concerns of service delivery protests seen at local government level in recent months and the threats made by some union leaders to withdraw their election support for the party, the African National Congress (ANC) remains upbeat and has expressed confidence of a landslide victory in the upcoming local government elections.
The ruling party also said the raging debate over race issues in the country will not have any negative impact on how it fares in the election scheduled for 18 May.
"The ANC has dealt with all the issues relating to service delivery. We are the only political party that visited the areas where there have been these protests. We never ran away from them," said the party's Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe.
He was briefing the media following this week's National Working Committee meeting, which precedes the crucial National Executive Committee (NEC) gathering to be held in Pretoria this coming weekend.
Mantashe said the NEC, the most powerful decision making body between conferences, was expected to finalise the ANC candidates' list process while individual meetings with provinces will be held to iron out any differences in the list.
Last week, the ANC released its manifesto for the local government elections with the theme "Together we can build better communities." In it, the party promises to review and strengthen legislation to ensure citizens take full control of municipalities and to promote participation.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU), currently engaged in protests in Gauteng, has expressed its dissatisfaction with the manifesto, saying it "does not address working class needs." The union also threatened to withdraw its support for the ANC in Gauteng if the issue of the striking workers was not resolved.
On Tuesday, Mantashe pointed out that the Tripartite Alliance, which includes trade union federation Cosatu, was "actively" involved in the finalisation of the manifesto, which he said was adopted at the Alliance Summit last month.
The past few years have seen the ANC lose more than 38 wards in local government by-elections, while the opposition Democratic Alliance gained 24, according to a survey published in January by the Institute of Race Relations.
In it, the institute analysed data on by-elections from the Independent Electoral Commission between 2006 to August 2010. Mantashe said the ANC would retain all the municipalities it controlled and continue to make inroads in other contested areas.
He declined to comment on how the party would fare in the Western Cape, the only province not under its rule. "That becomes irrelevant," Mantashe said.