Thulani Gqirana

Will the PAC show SA who's boss?

2016-06-27 07:41

Thulani Gqirana

Indeed - election madness is upon us and every Tom, Dick, Vusi and Andile is flexing their muscles and throwing their weight around.

I was at a PAC manifesto launch/youth day rally in Khayelitsha - only one of three journalists in the press contingent that will have to word ALL the excitement of a church hall sized crowd about the launch of the party’s provincial manifesto.

A typical political event, complete with a couple of scrawny bodyguards in black wearing sun shades indoors, arms folded, and stationed right in front of the stage just in case one of the 12 people in the front row become over enthusiastic, and dared to touch party leader Luthando Mbinda.

And two eager supporters in full regalia directing the not so busy traffic outside the hall in a bid to pack one side of the street, while ensuring a safe escape route for their leader, just in case.

This major party event was held in a “family-sized” church hall with about 100 people gathered, mostly clad in party t-shirts, the occasional beret and overalls (the 2016 elections uniform).

From the “kitchen” four women chopping and stirring smells that remind of home-made chicken curry...after all any ardent supporter of a political party will tell you the race to be number One in the theatre of politics can be a hungry business.

On a rant

People need to be fed – food and promises and a good dose of “we can win this”.

The media (all three of us) were briskly taken out where Mbinda will give the standard politician’s soundbite. But wait, where’s the banner?

A leader cannot be seen on camera without the right props. The horror.

After a few minutes Mbinda was ready with nine men in green t-shirts, three women in black pants, white shirts, straight cut blazers and shades trying (and failing) to hold up a banner behind the small crowd.

The PAC-leader Mbinda is on a rant. His party might not be able to participate in the upcoming elections.

“Who the hell do they think they are?” he bellowed incensed that the IEC had dared to question the leadership of the party, which had been in and out of court for years as two factions each claimed ownership.

The party was asked to present a court order confirming who the legitimate leader of the party is.

He then pledges to gather "his troops" and come up with a plausible plan to take on the IEC. Troops? Maybe the army of “foot soldiers” gathered in a church hall in the name of the PAC draped in camouflage-style overalls.

The party has gone from five seats (243,478 votes) to one seat (37 784 votes) in Parliament.


But it is not about size, or is it?

Not in a country where the strength of political parties and now also music icons is measured in whether they can fill a stadium.

Well the PAC did manage to fill a whole church hall - and what they lack in size, they make up for with enthusiasm - however misguided.

The party must not be taken for granted, Mbinda says. They will not be derailed by the “enemy” and they will fight their way into the elections.

No Chapter 9 institution is going to tell him when and where to contest, no Sir. Not even the one charged with ensuring “free and fair elections” in the country. The PAC is going to show the country who’s the boss, just you watch.

It has been said: “If you can’t beat them, bluff them”.

*The PAC was formally launched on 6 April 1959 and was led by Robert Sobukwe, after a number of ANC members broke away from the party. The PAC was involved in the campaign against pass laws, which led to the arrest of the party leaders in 1960.

- Thulani Gqirana is a News24 parliamentary reporter. Follow her on Twitter.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    pac  |  local elections 2016


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