An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe


Bloemfontein - The Free State branch of the African National Congress has denied using “poor whites” as puppets to attract votes in next year's elections, it was reported on Tuesday.

The Volksblad reported that more than 100 financially challenged whites were given front row seats at the ANC’s recent elective conference in the Free State.

While many of them wore T-shirts bearing the image of President Jacob Zuma, who is also president of the ANC, they told the newspaper they did not know who the ANC president was, and said they attended the conference only to get food parcels.

“I did not even know that we would be brought to the conference,” one of the visitors was quoted as telling Volksblad.

According to the newspaper, Sandlana Smit (a member of the Free State premier's unit for minorities) had denied that the white delegates were part of a hire-a-white election strategy.

She reportedly said some of them would not know who Zuma was because they were too poor to have access to the media.

Smit said many white South Africans supported the ANC, but they did not publicly announce it for fear of being victimised.

Free State ANC spokesman Oupa Khaobane told Volksblad that many white South Africans had complained that the ANC neglected them, and that the group had been invited to experience ANC culture. - Sapa