The Democratic Alliance unleashed its federal chairperson, Athol Trollip, on Thursday to kick-start its election campaign in Limpopo with the main focus on rural crime and poverty, porous borders and corruption.
During his two-day visit, Trollip will visit farming towns and meet with business people, among others, to garner support for his party ahead of the general elections later this year, which he described as the "most important in the history of the country".
Addressing the media in Polokwane on Thursday, he said rural poverty was the biggest cause of the rapid movement of people to major urban centres, because of the collapse of rural economy in provinces such as Limpopo.
"This is also precipitated by the high instances of crime, especially crime in rural areas. We will be taking a message about the impact of crime in rural areas, because every time a crime is committed it has a direct impact on the lives of the people of this country.
"The farming community is already marginalised and it's a very difficult sector to be in, compounded by drought, and farmers are battling to make a living. It's not only tax that wants them to leave the land, but theft of production materials such as pumps and copper," Trollip said.
He said the situation remained hopeless because the police were under-resourced to deal with crime in rural areas. He also claimed police were underpaid.
To turn around the situation, Trollip believes the government has to support the rural economy. He said the best way was to employ people where they stay because most South Africans live in rural areas.
"We believe the relationship between a farmer and farmworker has been destroyed inadvertently. Some pieces of legislations such as the land tenure rights and minimum wage are very good, but have some unintended consequences.
"For example, the government does not give recognition to an employer who feeds the employees. We also have a situation in which we have people who look after sheep but have never tasted mutton, people who milk cattle but never drink milk, and people who look after beef animals but have never seen beef on their plate," he said.
On border posts, Trollip said sovereign security was a critical issue for the safety of the people in the country, and also for bio-safety.
"Recently, we saw the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which has a devastating consequence on the meat producers.
"Animals come and go through our borders as they please, people come and go as they please and they have illegal trade and they smuggle stuff across our borders. They come here undocumented and they have access to our state services. The greatest challenge to our country is the porous borders."
He described the borders of Limpopo as the most porous in the country. He said dealing with porous borders had nothing to do with xenophobia, but with sovereign security and safety of South African citizens.
DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle, who earlier visited the border posts, said none of them, except Beit Bridge in Musina, had scanners, which meant "anything [could] pass through".