Zuma sinks ANC hopes in WCape

Ed Herbst says President's unpopularity, ANC racial policies, have buried its electoral prospects in province this year

ANC hopes sink in Western Cape

‘The bottom line for politicians is never patronise the coloured people; never underestimate their ability to play the field; and never undermine their contribution to the struggle for liberation.’  Rhoda Kadalie – Why the ANC lost the coloured vote 21/5/2014

On April 15 coloured and white SAPS members in the Western Cape awoke to a front page lead in Die Burger that indicated they would never be promoted to senior ranks on merit.

It related to a letter dated 9 March and signed by Lieutenant General Lineo Ntshiea, Divisional Commissioner for Human Resource Management in the South African Police Service. In the letter racial quotas for the province are defined. They will prevent coloured and white SAPS employees, on the basis of their ethnicity, from being promoted to the ranks of captain, lieutenant-colonel or colonel.

This is just one more example of why the ANC has no chance of taking control of the province at municipal level in the 3 August election.

A survey which featured on the front page of the Sunday Times on April 3 is the firmest indication yet that the ANC’s hopes of returning to the halcyon days of 2003 to 2006 when the Cape Town municipality was under its control are not  going to be realised.

The survey was conducted in February by market research company TNS. It took place before the devastating finding by the Constitutional Court that President Jacob Zuma had failed to uphold and defend the Constitution and his oath of office by refusing to comply with the remedial action stipulated by the Public Protector on Nkandla.

TNS interviewed 2000 adults in seven major metropolitan areas and found that public trust in Zuma had been substantially eroded even in his traditional stronghold of KZN.

The survey found that 9% of whites and just 3% of coloureds trusted Zuma and believed that he was doing a credible job.

In a City Press article on the same day, ‘Afrikaans is not the enemy on campus’ Heinrich Wyngaard analysed the ethnic background of South Africans whose home language is Afrikaans – it is the third most spoken South African language after Zulu and Xhosa.

6.8 million Afrikaans speakers

3.4 million are Coloured  - 50%

2.7 million are White - 40%

602 000 are African - 9%

58 000 Indian - 1%

Home language

In the Western Cape, more people speak Afrikaans as a home language than any other, and the majority of these people are not white according to the 2011 census figures

Coloureds – 49.6%

Africans – 33.4%

Whites – 16%

Indians 1.1%

That means that the people who hold President Jacob Zuma in the lowest esteem and who least trust him to fulfil their aspirations for a better life comprise some 65% of the voters in the Western Cape

Afrikaans has come under sustained attack, particularly in Stellenbosch and this will influence Afrikaans voters in the province.

On 1 September last year white, Afrikaans-speaking students at the Elsenburg Agricultural College who had arrived to write tests were attacked with sjamboks. One of the students, sustained a gaping wound on his neck in the attack.

A photograph of this wound was widely circulated on social media and carried in a Johannesburg newspaper, the Citizen but not in the Cape Times.

One of the most common complaints of voters is that they only see politicians at election times and that, for the rest, their concerns are ignored.

So what have two of the leading ANC politicians in the Western Cape, Marius Fransman and Tony Ehrenreich done to defend the coloured community when it came under unjustified attack and what have they done to promote its interests?

Deafening silence

Here is a chronology of events in which this community was subjected to humiliation, insult and a threat to their livelihoods and when the silence of Fransman and Ehrenreich was deafening:

17 October 2001. Then Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool insulted coloured voters who exercised their constitutionally-guaranteed freedom of choice to vote for parties other than the ANC. He did this in a taxpayer-funded advertisement which described these voters as “coconuts” – brown on the outside and white on the inside. Fransman and Ehrenreich maintained a complicit silence and it was left to Rhoda Kadalie to defend the coloured community.

August 2005. Blackman Ngoro, spokesman for then Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo wrote on his website that coloureds were, by definition, sots who were culturally inferior to blacks. It was left to Alan Boesak to express dismay and alarm at the ANC’s failure to act expeditiously against Ngoro and when he was attacked by local ANC politician Mcebisi Skwatsha for expressing these concerns, Fransman and Ehrenreich did not defend Boesak.

February 2011. When Jimmy Manyi’s sentiments that there was an “oversupply” of coloureds in the Western Cape hit the headlines, the silence from Fransman and Ehrenreich was, once again, deafening and it was left to Trevor Manuel to express concern.

August 2012. Lumka Yengeni, wife of Tony Yengeni, makes it clear that the ANC wants coloureds in the Western Cape fishing industry to be replaced by blacks. Again, there is not a word of criticism from Fransman and Ehrenreich and again it is left to Rhoda Kadalie to express her outrage in a splendidly combative polemic in Business day – “ANC rule has again made serfs out of coloureds”

April 2013.  Coloured prison personnel who have been denied promotion on the basis of their ethnicity take their case to the Labour Court with the help of Solidarity and the F W de Klerk Foundation after Tony Ehrenreich’s Cosatu colleagues refused to help them.  One of applicants, Freddie Engelbrecht, told the court that he had approached politicians including Fransman, who refused to help him and his colleagues: “We went to many politicians. We tried to find a solution. The idea we got (from them) was: This is a coloured issue. We don’t want to get involved. “We said to them... It’s not a coloured issue... it’s a justice issue.”

What of the Muslim community in Cape Town? My sense is that the Gatesville Mosque is the symbolic epicentre of Islam in the city and Gatesville has been a safe Democratic Alliance ward since 2004.

In April 2014 the Cape Argus, owned by Dr Iqbal Survé, tried to use the former Premier of the province Ebrahim Rasool to recruit votes for the ANC, a tactic that drew an outraged response from Rhoda Kadalie.

Internal divsions

The opening sentence in the Cape Argus article reads: “The ANC in the Western Cape may have suffered due to internal divisions that tore the party apart a decade ago, but is now showing signs of stability, says Ebrahim Rasool.”

Two years later there is nothing to substantiate that statement. Fransman remains on suspension while the police seem to be deliberately delaying the investigation of a sexual harassment charge against him and Provincial Secretary Faiez Jacobs is back at work after a slap on the wrist for assault.

Casting his vote in the 2014 election Marius Fransman said: “I can safely say now, we will, in this election, be trashing the Democratic Alliance in the rural communities... we will (push up) our vote in the black communities, and you're going to have a big split vote in the coloured community, And we believe, with that, we will definitely take the Western Cape this time around.”

After the election when the DA was returned with an increased majority Fransman was quoted as saying that he knew all along that the ANC could not wrest political control of the province from the Democratic Alliance but he was “humbly” satisfied with the gains it had made in the Boland and Central Karoo regions.

In my subjective perception that was a deliberate attempt to mislead the electorate but, as the TNS survey indicates, such tactics will not work on 3 August this year.

All the evidence indicates that the Democratic Alliance will increase its majority in the province on August 3 and that an increased number of voters will desert the ANC. DA research apparently indicates that the EFF support has at least doubled since the 2014 national election which indicates an erosion of support in the ANC’s traditional black support base in the townships.

Ed Herbst is a retired news reporter