ANC secretsary general Ace Magashule listens to a resident of Paradise Park, outside Hermanus, who faces eviction. (Jan Gerber/News24)
The ANC is a party for black and white, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said in Hermanus on Wednesday after visiting a predominantly white community facing evictions.
Magashule and a throng of ANC supporters were initially barred by security from entering the gated community of Paradise Park on the outskirts of Hermanus. However, after a few minutes, in which Magashule and ANC NEC member Tandi Mahambehlala negotiated with the man in charge of security, a high-ranking police officer showed up, security relented and Magashule and the ANC supporters were allowed to enter.
As the gates opened, much more than 12 people streamed in. Even before they left for Paradise Park, Magashule had said there was no such thing as 'no go' zones in South Africa, and they should be allowed to campaign there.
For the past three years, the residents of Paradise Park have been facing a battle to keep their homes, which will come to a head two days before the May 8 elections when the matter will be heard in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town. They say they have purchased their homes with long term lease agreements, but the land has been sold to a developer, who wants them out.
"We've paid for these homes. Why should we be moving for the likes of a developer?" an impassioned resident, Tracy Henn, told Magashule.
"The DA wants to push us into hokkies (a type of backyard dwelling)," she claimed.
Earlier on the campaign trail Magashule drew criticism from among others ANC elders after referring to the DA as "umlungu" (a white person) and urging potential voters not to vote for the opposition party based on the fact that it was a "white party".
On Wednesday, Magashule was at pains to emphasise the ANC's commitment to non-racialism.
"The ANC throughout the years never fought against whites; we fought against the system," he told the residents, several wearing the yellow ANC-T-shirts that were distributed.
Magashule said the Freedom Charter states that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.
"I can tell you, nobody is going to remove you here," he said and vowed that they would help to take the matter to the highest court.
"Julle gaan nêrens (you're going nowhere)," he said in Afrikaans. "We are going to fight for your rights. Your rights are our rights."
ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs said their fight was a just fight.
"We as South Africans should look after each other," he said, in Afrikaans.
"Hermanus is only for the rich, only the rich can live by the sea," one of the residents said.
Jacobs said their situation was similar to that of the residents of nearby predominantly black neighbourhood Zwelihle, and encouraged them to work together with their neighbours, with some Paradise Park residents murmuring their approval.
Magashule later told reporters that what he had seen at Paradise Park is the "biggest disappointment and embarrassment where white people are not treated like human beings".
"It's a disgrace of the highest order.
"That's why we must expropriate land and give it to the same people who live there.
"The ANC represents the poor, the poor knows no colour. The ANC represents everybody, but we are more pro-poor, pro-working class; we are a non-racial organisation."
Magashule said when he says the DA is a party for rich, white people, it doesn't mean they are against white people.
"It (the DA) wants to represent the few who are rich, at the exclusion of the poor - black and white."
Last year, the predominantly black neighbourhood of Zwelihle was the site of violent protest when its residents took to the streets after land that was earmarked for housing was sold to a developer.
It was also where the campaign trail took Magashule next. He went door to door, handing out yellow T-shirts along the way, reminding journalists that they too were voters, and apparently didn't look in anybody's fridge.
At one house an elderly lady denied him entrance.
"But you're a comrade?" he muttered bemused, as she was wearing a yellow T-shirt.
Asked about the ANC elections list, Magashule said the list process was closed.
"There are people who are trying to be naughty now. It is a closed list. The list is registered with the IEC now. And the people on the list are on the list."
He said the legal team was still busy with the investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh's recent book "Gangster State" – which details Magashule's alleged patronage network.
"Just wait and see," Magashule said.
At a mini-rally, Magashule told the residents of Zwelihle what he had told those of Paradise Park: "South Africa is for all of us, black and white. South Africa is for the so-called coloureds."
He said the DA is a party for "abelungu who are rich".
"Please don't lose hope," he said at the rally. "The ANC is the only hope."