Cape coloured voters' minds made up

2011-05-16 10:32
Cape Town - Fruit seller Amien Cox will put his hopes in a white woman in South Africa's local polls on Wednesday, 17 years after the fall of the racist apartheid regime that denied an all-race vote.

"No other option: DA," said the coloured supporter of the Democratic Alliance over the governing ANC that led South Africa into democracy.

"I'll never vote any ANC, never. I'll never vote for a black man, never," said Cox, 72. "They don't worry for us."

Politicians have scrambled to woo coloured voters who are the majority in Cape Town, South Africa's only major city not in ANC hands.

The battle is a two-party race between President Jacob Zuma's ANC, which lost the city five years ago, and the DA led by Helen Zille, who is the first female leader of the party.

Backing the DA

The coloured group is tipped to back the DA - years after many cast their first votes in 1994 for apartheid's white minority nationalists that oppressed them but ranked them higher than blacks.

"Coloured people with brains are going to vote for an opposition," summed up "John", 50, a store sales supervisor who lives in Mitchell's Plain, a suburb created for coloureds forcibly removed during apartheid.

"They're not going to jump on the bandwagon because at the end of the day they are going to be thrown off the bandwagon."

Coloureds who have African, European, East Asian and South Indian roots had more privileges than the darker-skinned black majority in apartheid's strict hierarchy designed to keep South Africa's people apart and protect white power.

The divisions cut across separate housing, education and even language with Dutch settler-derived Afrikaans spoken instead of local African languages.

And while power has shifted, many still feel sidelined.

An angry people

Emotions exploded earlier this year over remarks by the ANC government's top spokesperson that there was a regional "over supply" of coloureds, who form less than 9% of the nearly 50 million South Africans.

"The ANC has done nothing for the coloured people," said John.

"There are a few coloured people like the diehard supporters for the ANC since the days of yore... those are the ones who will stick with them. But I don't think they can garner any fresh support from the coloured people."
The DA unseated the ANC in the Western Cape with a razor-thin margin in the 2009 general election, after taking Cape Town in a coalition in local polls three years earlier.

Courting black voters

The DA has urged desperately needed black voters to put it to the test, fighting digs of being white and elitist, while the ANC has pushed its liberation credentials, which brought the adored Nelson Mandela to power.

On the outskirts of sleek Cape Town, Nomzwake Kanyaza, 60, said she will vote ANC as "the first party that brought us everything" as she readied to cook sheep heads on a roadside fire.

Other black voters said they will break longstanding loyalty to the ANC after years of empty promises.

"When the DA won, everything changed. We got electricity and toilets. Sorry about the truth," said Khayelitsha shack dweller Zameka Belani, 30.

But for some South Africans - angered by graft, inequality, massive joblessness, crime, and poor housing - all options are equally dire.

Disappointed ANC supporter Marildiah Mukadam, 54, in Mitchell's Plain said: "I don't know who really to vote for because they're all a bunch of liars."
Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  helen zille  |  jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  politics  |  elections

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