PRETORIA: The liberal Democratic Alliance, fighting to keep its place as South Africa’s official opposition party, was to launch its electoral campaign on Saturday ahead of a hotly contested vote.

In the capital Pretoria the party led a march from the center city to the seat of government, the Union Buildings.

Under the scorching sun, streets were flooded with a sea of the DA’s signature blue as supporters sang along to an energetic brass band as they marched behind their leader.

He, John Steenhuisen, was expected to unveil the party’s new manifesto.

“I’m here today to see some change, we want to give this political party a chance because you never know it could work” said Pontsho Mona, 24, “because truly speaking the ANC has failed.”

The ruling African National Congress is set to launch its own manifesto next week.

The image of the 110-year-old ANC has been fractured and stained by corruption, cronyism and a lackluster economic record.

In a country plagued by an energy crisis and high unemployment, some 27.5 million registered South Africans will elect a new parliament which will then vote in a new president.

Some polls show the alliance currently battling with leftist party Economic Freedom Fighters for second place behind the ANC.

A recent Ipsos survey put the two parties tied at between 17 and 20 percent.

Formed in 2000 as a fusion of three mostly white parties, the DA has struggled to escape its white, middle-class image and win over black voters.

But Simon Nkabinde, a 68-year-old pensioner, told AFP he has put his faith into the DA after being “constantly lied to” by the ANC.

“I had been complaining about not having a tar road in my township since 1991 under ANC leadership but nothing happened for 30 years,” he said.

“The DA has now won our municipality and has started building us a tar road.”

The center-right  party has formed a coalition in the hope of unseating the ANC.

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