Birthplace of UDF falls to the ‘enemy’
DA supplants in Mitchells Plain Mitchells Plain statistics
THERE ARE ONLY DA election posters displayed on lampposts in front of the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain, beside a monument erected to mark the 1983 launch of the United Democratic Front (UDF) there.
The UDF, a broad front of anti- apartheid organisations regarded as the legal arm of the then-banned ANC, carried the dreams of coloured people fighting against apartheid and for democracy.
But it now appears that dream is no more, with few residents of the area voting for the ANC in previous elections.
Nearly 90 percent of residents in eight wards have demonstrated support for the DA in an area where 90 percent of residents are coloured, 7 percent are black African, 2 percent white and 0.6 percent Asian.
In 2000 in Ward 81, which incorporates Rocklands, the DA won 72 percent of the vote and the ANC just 13 percent. In 2006, the DA secured 43 percent of the vote, the Independent ACCORDING to the 2011 Census, in Mitchells Plain:
310 485 residents live in 68 000 households, with an average of 4.5 people per household.
90 percent of residents are coloured, 7 percent black African, 2 percent white, and 0.6 percent Asian.
The unemployment rate is 24 percent, with 31 000 unemployed residents.
10 percent of people earn no income, 0.3 percent earn more than R100 000 a month and 5.5 percent earn between R25 600 and R51 000 monthly.
40 percent of people earn between R3 200 and R12 800, Democrats (ID) 30 percent, and the ANC 13 percent. In 2011, 88 percent voted DA, with just 5 percent of voters making their mark for the ANC.
The UDF once united the masses on the Cape Flats. But today the ANC is so weak there that members stay home rather than fighting alongside their neighbours to better their lives.
The DA is so active it’s taken much of the former UDF and ANC support.
Achmat Semaar, veteran ANC activist and outgoing 15 percent from R1 600 to R3 200, and 13 percent between R1 and R1 600.
4.2 percent of residents live in shacks, 375 people live in shacks not situated in backyards and close to 2 500 people in shacks in backyards.
64 000 people – 95 percent of the suburb’s population – live in formal dwellings.
65 percent have access to piped water inside their homes, while 0.7 percent – 486 people – have no access to piped water.
Nearly 30 percent of residents are 14 or younger, while 4 percent are older than 65. Half of residents are aged 25 to 64. administrator of the local ANC branch, said of the launch of the UDF: “That’s where it all began, intensifying the struggle. How could we have allowed the DA to claim (the UDF monument) as their site? That’s one of the biggest disappointments.”
The DA has been claiming “our symbols”, he charged. “The DA speaks the language we used to speak. They’re claiming our slogans. They’re using our icon (Nelson Mandela) to promote their party.”
Semaar joined the ANC when it was unbanned in 1990, but said there was no activism today. “Everybody wants to be a politician or a councillor or on executive structures. We have moved away from the people. The ANC lives in the community, yet we’re absent.”
Danny Christians, Ward 81 DA councillor for the past decade, mobilised pupils against “Bantu education” in 1976, joined the UDF at its launch, and voted ANC in 1994.
“The UDF could have changed the political landscape of South Africa if the ANC hadn’t swallowed it.
“The UDF would have been a strong opposition to the ANC,” the councillor said.
For the first time, no ANC candidate is contesting Ward 81.
Jonathan Kabiah, from Rocklands, said he joined the UDF hoping “it would become a strong party”.
“Today they’ve vanished from the earth. The ANC is a black party, so who am I?”
Even the poorest of the poor – a small group of Kapteinsklip informal area residents who live opposite the Kapteinsklip train station – said they would vote DA.
Sheval Arendse, DA councillor for Tafelsig, is often around, and has arranged ID books for them so they can access bank accounts, training and employment.
Afterwards, they said, he helped arrange work for them for a month cleaning parks, homes, roads and pavements.
Two residents, Rashieda Daniels and Radia Davids, said the council had sponsored them to the tune of R4 500 each so they could train as nurses at a frail-care centre for three months until the end of September.
At the Mitchells Plain Town Centre, Adilah McClusky said: “The ANC is not responding to the problems in our areas.
“They do more for their own people than for us so-called coloureds.”
She said a relative had returned from Johannesburg after she intended settling there, saying she could not get work there as jobs were “reserved for Africans”. “She said it’s the opposite here.”
Zainuneesa Davids, however, has endured much criticism because she intends voting for the ANC.
“I don’t care. They can’t tell me what to do.”
She’s been voting ANC since nine years ago when the party helped her hold on to her home. “I will always vote for them,” said Davids.
There are so few ANC election posters in Rocklands they’re outnumbered by those from the Cape Muslim Congress, the ACDP and EFF, with slogans such as “24 hour accessible councillors” and “Affordable municipal rates for everyone”.
Even the poster presence of the FF+ – making its debut in Mitchells Plain in Wednesday’s election – is beating that of the ANC.
Political analyst Ebrahim Harvey wrote in the Mail&Guardian in April: “The decision to prematurely disband the UDF in 1992, two years before the 1994 election, was the biggest political and strategic mistake the ANC made regarding the coloured vote.
“The result was that the ANC was roundly defeated in the Western Cape in the first non-racial elections in our history in 1994, from which it has never recovered.
“That the ANC lost in the birthplace of the UDF – which was overtly pro-ANC – was a massive and tragic irony. Never before did an oppressed and exploited peoples vote for their oppressors in their first democratic election, meant to celebrate their liberation from them.”
The 2016 election shows every sign of continuing this trend in Mitchells Plain. firstname.lastname@example.org
Councillor Sheval Arendse with Sulaiman Abrahams, 2, and Cassiem Edwards, 4, who live in Kapteinsklip informal settlement.
Huge DA billboards adorn the Mitchells Plain Town Centre while there are hardly any ANC posters to be seen in this former UDF stronghold.