Personality of the day: Vinesh B. Chuturgoon

2009-03-23 00:00

WHY the K for Kongress?

"Everybody asks about that," says Newcastle businessman and founder of the Great Kongress of South Africa, Vinesh Chuturgoon. "People want to know if it's an Afrikaans party. No. I'm nation-building. I am sometimes told that Africa belongs to the Africans and I should go back to India, but I believe we can work together."

Chuturgoon was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresea to launch the party, which stands for "truth, peace and non-violence".

"I started the party for the nation, so we could work together," he says. "Using these three role models, we are nation-building. We are saying, let's sit together and talk about our differences."

Chuturgoon says he strives for racial balance in his party. His ideal party composition is as follows: 40% black, 20% Indian, 20% white and 20% coloured.

"If you look at other political parties, you will see that the ANC is overwhelmingly one race, Rajbansi's Minority Front is Indian, the ID is coloured and the DA is mainly white. At the end of the day, we end up fighting each other."

A former chairman of the IFP executive committee and ward councillor in Newcastle, Chuturgoon says people like him, particularly in Soweto where he originally launched the party in 2007. "The old people long for me," he said.

Chuturgoon was a donor and member of the Newcastle crematorium and the Aryan Benevolent Home of the aged. He also donated to the Hare Krishna community programmes and was involved in fundraising for child welfare, religious and cultural organisations.

Throughout South Africa, GKSA currently has about 150 000 members, he claims.

That the party is growing "drastically", he says is because of its policy of socialism.

"At the end of the day, if you take the heart out of the body, the body dies. Government has received the heart from the nation and has given it to their friends; they've privatised everything which belongs to the country and which provides jobs for people.

"If you take the heart, what happens to people? Where do they get jobs? I say, let's bring the heart back. With socialism everyone benefits."

Not what you'd expect to hear from a businessman and property developer.

"I may be a businessman. I'm not a political capitalist who accrued wealth by depriving the nation of its parastatals. I've earned my money the hard way. I worked hard for it," says Chuturgoon.

Key manifesto points

* The GKSA manifesto states South Africa has gone "beyond the time where we could blame all our ills on the legacy of apartheid".

* It warns that the upcoming elections will "make or break" the country. "The moment has come to stop our moaning and do the right thing by voting out the elements of corruption, self-enrichment and disregard for moral rectitude.

Focus areas include:

* crime (improved criminal investigation),

* education (OBE viewed as currently unsuitable, adult education centres proposed for at all schools),

* health (support for health workers, prioritise HIV/Aids),

* social development (grants for unemployed conditional upon skills acquisition),

* economy (land redistribution, community-based development).

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