Minstrel groups are with us - ANC

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Independent Newspapers.

File photo: Momberg said that troupe captains would be free to endorse other political parties. Picture Angelo Kalmeyer

Cape Town - The ANC in the Western Cape says it has received a significant boost less than a month before the general elections after it was endorsed by the leaders of two of the biggest minstrel carnival associations.

The support could prove key to ANC hopes of engineering a swing in the crucial coloured vote in the Western Cape.

But the DA said the endorsements would make no difference to voting patterns in the Cape Town metro, as the two association leaders – Kevin Momberg of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association (CTMCA) and Melvyn Matthews of the Kaapse Klopse Karnival Association (KKKA) – had always been ANC supporters.

 

Momberg, chief executive officer of the CTMCA – the province’s largest minstrel grouping – said this week a majority of the captains of the association’s 45 troupes had endorsed the ANC as the DA-run city of Cape Town had repeatedly shown “disrespect” to the minstrels and their unique heritage.

For example, he said, the city had banned them from marching into the symbolically important Bo-Kaap in 2009 and tried to foist an event organiser on them earlier this year.

He said run-ins and court cases between the city and the minstrels had become so common that the CTMCA had lost faith.

“We were always disputing the route, or the Bo-Kaap thing, or the venue – they threw us from pillar to post – or that we couldn’t march on a particular day.”

Momberg also lamented the fact that the city spent R3.5m per year on “logistical and support services” but that the minstrel organisations were left to fend for themselves financially.

Momberg said that troupe captains would be free to endorse other political parties, but warned: “It is their prerogative... We will accept him but, to tell you the truth , we won’t be too happy about it. And, at the end of the day – and I’ll say it – if we get support from the ANC in terms of material, like hats, that person (who voted for another party) is going to be last in the queue.

“We are not going to say ‘we are going to push you out’ but it stands to reason... that person is going to have to wait.”

Matthews of the KKKA said most of the association’s 35 troupe captains had endorsed the ANC.

In 2009, during the last general election, the DA won the province with 51.5 percent of the vote while the ANC’s share of the vote dropped from 45.3 percent in 2004 to just 31.6 percent in 2009.

Much of this turnaround in which the DA leapt from 27 percent in 2004 to a majority five years later was as a result of the coloured constituency switching allegiances.

To win back the province, the ANC will need to win more votes in predominantly coloured suburbs such as Mitchells Plain, Athlone and Lotus River from where many minstrel troupes hail.

 

Momberg and Matthews were on hand to endorse the ANC a week ago at Vygieskraal Stadium in Athlone, where President Jacob Zuma chose to celebrate his 72nd birthday with the ANC provincial leadership.

The importance the party places on bringing minstrel leaders into the ANC fold was evident in Zuma’s speech, during which he promised them increased national government support.

“This provincial government fails to support the minstrels, klopse and Malay choirs,” Zuma told several thousand supporters.

“We are concerned that in the recent past when you wanted to organise the Tweede Nuwe Jaar some challenges were experienced in this province. It is for this reason that the minstrel associations have asked national government to intervene; to declare the minstrels route as a heritage route.”

ANC provincial ANC chairman Marius Fransman said the minstrels had been “pushed around” by the DA-led city government.

 

“We as a government must give the minstrels the support to organise themselves… the cultural history of our people is critical for the ANC,” Fransman said.

But DA leader Helen Zille said on Friday the ANC was simply playing politics.

“We are very used to the ANC trying to politicise every institution in society,” said Zille.

“President Zuma deployed his cadres everywhere, from the National Prosecuting Authority to the SABC, to every other independent institution to politicise them. We see that obviously happening with the minstrels as well.

“Frankly those two gentlemen (Momberg and Matthews) have always been ANC, so it will make no difference,” Zille said.

“They are not speaking for the organisations, they are speaking for people in some troupes, but there are scores and scores of troupes.” - Weekend Argus


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