‘It’s not about votes’

2013-09-26 00:00

THE ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has set its eyes firmly on winning over the minority groups — Indians, coloureds and whites — in its quest to garner 70% of votes in the 2014 provincial elections.

Yesterday, the ruling party launched an intercultural programme aimed at reaching out to the minority groups, who some ANC leaders and members feel were previously alienated from the party.

The programme, entitled Many Cultures, One Nation: Celebrating the Spirit of Madiba, will see the ANC visiting minority communities to promote intercultural activities; engaging them in campaigns against crime, drugs and alcohol abuse.

Part of the plan includes holding community dialogues and student debates on racialism and the country’s future.

The launch occurred against the backdrop of a radical group, the KZN-based Mazibuye African Forum, which recently formed to fight the “stranglehold” of Indians on the provincial economy as well as campaign for their exclusion from affirmative action and black economic empowerment programmes.

The ANC in the province had to scramble to placate Indian communities, even going so far as to threaten party members associated with the forum, which enjoys support of so-called radical members of various political parties.

The party leaders yesterday insisted the programme was not a political exercise to win minority groups for the elections, but was about building an integrated society.

“The question of non-racialism will not be achieved through elections. You will not build a nation through elections,” provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said.

“It is a long programme we are going through. If it assists us on the elections, well and fine, it is a bonus. We will continue till South Africa is integrated,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by provincial executive committee member and Human Settlements MEC Ravi Pillay. “It is beyond electoral politics. Any electoral gain or loss will be a peripheral matter. We have a fundamental responsibility to reach out [to minority groups],” Pillay said.

Spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said the programme was aimed at implementing what was contained in the ANC’s policies document, strategy and tactics, which was emphatic about a national democratic society.

“This is part of that process of building a national democratic society, which is a long process,” Mkhize said.

Zikalala dismissed a perception the launch was a reaction to the Mazibuye African Forum.

“Mazibuye is discouraging this sort of engagement,” he said.

He insisted that the programme, scheduled to start with a intercultural festival in Phoenix on Saturday, would not be a once-off event.

“It will go on and on and reach many areas.

“The objective is promote the spirit of ubuntu, caring for your neighbour, promoting human rights and equality,” Zikalala added.

“Wherever we go we must identify ourselves as South Africans whether we are Indians, coloureds, whites or Africans,” he said.

Political analyst Zakhele Ndlovu said the ANC’s initiative was a welcome move, given the country’s history.

“In this case you can’t rule out that they want to win over these groups for the next year’s elections,” he said.

“The timing suggest that they want their support as elections gets nearer.”

Ndlovu thought the Mazibuye African Forum was not a factor in spurring the ANC into action.

“I don’t think there are parties willing to deal head-on with issues raised by Mazibuye African Forum, as some of the issues raised are genuine but have the potential of dividing parties,” said Ndlovu.

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