Birth­place of UDF falls to the ‘en­emy’

DA sup­plants in Mitchells Plain Mitchells Plain sta­tis­tics

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - HENRIETTE GELDEN­HUYS

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. henriette.gelden­


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.

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