‘Whites DO vote for ANC’

2011-06-06 00:00

FORMER white activists and ANC supporters have dismissed ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s claims that no whites voted for the ANC in the 17 years of democracy, saying they are only moving away from the organisation as its leadership is “now no different from the Nationalist Party fat cats”.

Although most white activists The Witness spoke to had mixed feelings about Malema’s speech, they were adamant that a substantial number of whites were voting for the ANC.

Responding publicly for the first time to the ANC’s accusations that he was behind the decline in the ruling party’s votes during the 2011 local government elections, Malema said white people had never voted for the ANC — even during the Nelson Mandela era.

Malema was speaking at the KwaZulu-Natal ANCYL provincial general council (PGC) at Durban’s City Hall at the weekend.

He defended his call for nationalisation and the appropriation of land for redistribution to black people without any compensation.

Malema said whites had never voted ANC since the 1994 election, so he could not be accused of driving away white voters as they were never there to begin with.

“What we did [for the ANC] was to consolidate African votes for them. Whites never voted for us and they will never vote for us … It’s the Coloured and Indian votes we have I would worry about if they don’t vote for us, because we were together in the trenches, not whites.”

Steven Collins, former KZN Institute for Democratic Alternatives for South Africa director, said whites were not driven away from the ANC by what Malema said.

“The issue here is the failure of the ANC to deliver on the proud history of the organisation, constant stories of the few at the top getting more than a share, while service delivery to the poor is non-existent …

“I fought for the right to choose and the values contained in the Freedom Charter. I still support those, but now feel that the ANC leadership are no different from the National Party fat-cats. My sentiments are similar to lots of my white comrades, so it leaves you with an option to vote for the opposition in the hope that you can send a message to the ANC leadership,” Collins said.

Another well-known former ANC activist, outgoing eThekwini municipal manager Dr Mike Sutcliffe, said he believed this particular issue should have been debated within the ANC structures. “Some people are still locked in racial cages by defining themselves according to racial lines.

“I don’t regard myself as white, but as a South African. However, we still have a long way to go to complete equality in our country. For all my adulthood I have been associated with the ANC and I had been voting for it.”

Pietermaritzburg ANC activist Lisa del Grande said what Malema said reflects his young age, but that his words are not completely untrue.

“I don’t think the ANC worked very hard in canvassing votes from the former white areas and ANC branches are not succeeding in most white-dominated areas. I also do not think that those voting for the ANC might be discouraged by what Malema said,” Del Grande said.

Another ANC activist in Pietermaritzburg, Colin Gardner, said what Malema said is not true and that he is polarising South Africans.

“It’s not true that no whites voted for the ANC, as the vote is secret, but a number of white people do vote for the ANC, but I understand that it’s the feeling from most African people …” Gardner said.

Malema also expressed his frustration at the slow pace of land redistribution, saying it was failing the poor. “When we came to power 17 years ago, we promised that by 2014 we will have transferred about 30% of land to black people, but it’s still less than five percent … If we deliver five percent of land in 20 years, that means that it will take us 100 years to deliver only 20%.

“The willing buyer, willing seller system is not working as they sell at abnormal amounts that the government cannot afford, which in the long run fails service delivery. We belong to the generation of failures because we fail in what we promised …”

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