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Durban - The ANC is turning on the charm among Indians, coloureds and whites in KwaZulu-Natal as it aims to woo minority groups with eight months to go before the elections.
On Wednesday the party launched what it said would be a “massive inter-cultural programme” that would focus mainly on promoting social cohesion in areas inhabited by so-called minority groups.
At the launch at the Phoenix Youth Centre, the party rolled out the big guns with celebrities like former Bafana Bafana player Delron Buckley and East Coast Radio’s Neville Pillay coming out to lend their support to the programme.
Titled “Many Cultures, One Nation: Celebrating the Spirit of Madiba”, the programme would open with a street carnival and multicultural concert in Phoenix on Saturday.
This would not be a one-off event, but a programme that would run for months and in different areas across the province.
ANC provincial secretary, Sihle Zikalala, was quick to deny that the programme was one that would fizzle out as soon as the elections were over.
“This is not an election ploy, but a long programme. If it assists us with the elections then that would be a bonus,” Zikalala said.
But political analyst, Zakhele Ndlovu, believes this is the ANC’s election strategy to try to woo voters from minority groups.
“Assuming that the death of Amichand Rajbansi has left a void in the Indian community, the ANC would like to capture that space.
“However it would prove difficult for the ANC to get the Indian vote in particular as these groups are more likely to choose the DA than the ANC, which is still largely seen as a party for Africans,” he said.
Ndlovu said he believed the ANC would still win comfortably in KZN without the support of minorities, but added that support from these groups would be important as the ANC wanted to project itself as a diverse organisation.
“Of course the minority vote would be a factor in provinces like the Western Cape, but not here”.
He also denied that the charm offensive was the ANC’s answer to statements by groups like the radical Mazibuye African Forum, which has been calling for Indians not to benefit from black economic empowerment.
Addressing about 200 people who attended the launch, Zikalala said there had been questions asked about the identity of Indians in South Africa.
“For the ANC that question doesn’t arise, they are South African and they belong in this country. That issue was closed in 1955 when we adopted the Freedom Charter.”
He also said the party wanted to assure coloureds, some of whom feel that during apartheid they were not white enough to be embraced by the apartheid government and now they were not black enough to be embraced by the current government.
“We are here to affirm that South Africa belongs to all who live in it,” Zikalala said.
“We continue to live in a society that is polarised and divided… but the future is bright for South Africa. I want to affirm that there are people living beyond the racial divide.”