Cape Town - “We are not the same National Party as those days,” NP president Achmat Williams says after a long day of waiting to see if the party which drove apartheid still has any support.
Williams pulls out his big black counter book and points to the number 11 756 written among his Post-It notes, to show how much support the party had in the 2011 elections.
“We came fifth in the Western Cape that year. We call ourselves the Smartie Party,” Williams chuckled, referring to the multi-coloured sweets.
His journey with the party associated with furthering the interests of whites started in 2009.
He approached former NP stalwart and last apartheid head of state, FW De Klerk, about keeping it going. De Klerk, who is no longer a member, was sceptical.
“He said I am going to have problems, because the name is attached to the apartheid era.”
The NP had tried to save face and stop members jumping ship by renaming itself the New National Party during the dying days of apartheid, but eventually disbanded in the mid-1990s. Many of its officials were absorbed into the African National Congress, including then-leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk.
Williams said after the conversation with De Klerk, he decided to test the waters and registered for the 2011 municipal elections. The party's name was changed to NP and the logo was revamped.
The logo now has an orange sun rising over a green field, to symbolise growth. The point of each sun ray represents each of the country's nine provinces.
It only contested the City of Cape Town for the 2016 municipal elections.
According to its manifesto for the 2011 elections, apartheid was buried by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Now the party is non-racial and there is no discrimination in its policies.
The results of 2011 may have encouraged them to keep going, but the results are less clear for 2016.
“I am on the brink of retaining my seat,” Williams said on Thursday night. He hopes the complex proportional representation formula will give him a place in the Cape Town city council.
The formula is intended to share a proportion of the votes among the smaller parties to ensure equitable voter representation.
Williams said it is not financially easy to contest the election.
At R50 a lamp post poster, R50 a T-shirt, and R40 000 for pamphlets, it does not come cheap.
He pulled out one of his council pamphlets, sized by hand. It has emergency numbers on the back and on the front; his biggest drawcard is advertised in red: “Struggling To Pay Your Municipal Accounts?”
This is what brings people to him, regardless of their political affiliation, he explained.
He gave advice on how to apply for indigent relief and rates rebates for pensioners and the elderly.
“I have been very busy for the last five years.”
He leaned back and sat quietly for a while, while the results board at the IEC’s centre in Cape Town maintained a holding pattern, with the Democratic Alliance in commanding position ahead of the ANC. The last of the results are still coming through.
“Ja, maybe we should think about getting the name out of the way for once and for all.”
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