Gwede Mantashe’s rules for clever blacks

2014-06-15 15:00

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ANC secretary-general tells Janet Heard he doesn't mind the black middle class voting for other parties, but they must do so ‘consciously’

What priorities and concerns are unique to the black middle class?

The black middle class has grown dramatically in the past 20 years. The starting point is that it is important for the black middle class to understand they are beneficiaries of [the] progressive policies of the ANC. It doesn't mean they are indebted, but they must appreciate the history and where we are today.

[The middle class] is selling a very mobile and portable commodity called knowledge and skill. We should engage them, raise their level of consciousness so that when they take decisions, it is not on the basis of an incident or one issue.

The black middle class is a very small proportion of the electorate. Why is it so important to the ANC?

It is not small. Any revolution falls or stands on its ability to generate its own intellectual capacity. We need intellectual capacity for SA to move forward. If that intellectual capacity revolts, there is a bigger impact than just the numbers.

If you say the black middle class should defend the change the ANC brought about for them, do you mean to say they should not vote for any other party?

No. We describe the forces of the revolution as those who stand to benefit from change and those who are prepared to defend change. The middle class are beneficiaries of change, they must be able to defend that. If they vote for anybody else, it should not be because they are revolting because of an incident. They must do so consciously and appreciate that they agree with different policies. I find it strange for someone in the black middle class to neglect a party that promotes BEE and employment equity and go for a party that says it should be all about ability, that these policies should come to an end.

They have freedom [to vote], but people must never be driven by anger over one issue to vote for a party that stands for policies they disagree with.

For example, the middle class in Gauteng should lead the debate on e-tolls, on world-class infrastructure of Gauteng. They should bring ideas, not toyi-toyis.

Do you think the black middle class is ungrateful to the ANC?

It is not about being ungrateful. That is why we put the responsibility on the ANC to explain itself to the constituency. If it is not doing that, we can’t blame the constituency for being ungrateful. If we engage properly, we will be able to influence various streams in society.

Why is the black middle class drifting away from the ANC?

That is assumed. The middle class vote is spread all over, but the majority voted for the ANC. The middle class still votes for the ANC, with pockets of discontent among them. I am not sure if this is growing more than the middle class itself. That is an exaggeration. We must deal with it anyhow, to encourage conscious decisions.

Why do you think parties like Cope, the EFF and the DA find fertile ground among the black middle classes?

I don’t think Cope can claim fertile ground, with the massive shrinkage we have witnessed. The DA is not targeting the middle classes specifically, they are desperate for black votes.

When did the drift away from the ANC start?

Again, there is no drift away. The middle class is not ­homogeneous.

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