If you don’t vote, “the Boers will come back to control us”. This was the stern warning issued by ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa as he encouraged Limpopo residents to register to vote at the weekend.
He was speaking to a disgruntled Seshego resident, Johanna Phala, 49, who had vowed not to vote because the ANC had “disappointed” her.
The unemployed single mother-of-three blamed the high unemployment rate on the ANC and said she had lost hope in the party.
Ramaphosa asked her to reconsider her anger towards the ANC-led government.
He was in Seshego, hometown of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema, to drum up party support.
“If all South Africans don’t vote, we will regress. The Boers will come back to control us,” he said.
Ramaphosa’s remarks echoed a study released in April by consumer insight company Pondering Panda which found that 46 percent of youth respondents from all races believed the DA would bring back apartheid if it won next year.
But DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane allayed those fears at the time, insisting that the DA had fought against apartheid.
“That is the message we are conveying to people all over the country in our door-to-door “Know Your DA” campaign.
“We will make sure that all South Africans know the truth about who we are and where we come from,” he said.
When Ramaphosa was later asked by The Star to clarify his statement, he said: “I said things will regress because if they don’t vote we are moving backward and we need to be moving forward all the time, and she (Phala) paused for a while and she bought my story.”
Amid speculations of apathy among first-time voters, he insisted the youth were eager to vote. He said young people appreciated changes and developments taking place.
“They know where this country was 20 years ago and they don’t want to see this country going back where it was. They want to be part of progress, they want to be part of the future,” he said.
The ANC’s second-in-command denied his campaign in Seshego was strategically designed to weaken the EFF’s support.
“It’s a good spot to be, tomorrow (Sunday) I am moving to another area, so we are spread throughout the country, all of us,” he said.
The EFF is believed to draw support mainly from the youth, and Malema’s hometown is said to be its stronghold.
Ramaphosa is not the only senior ANC leader to make his foray into Seshego recently.
In September, President Jacob Zuma spoke at the 69th anniversary celebration of the ANC Youth League in the same area.
However, despite claims that the EFF was making inroads in Seshego, the ANC continued to enjoy visible youth support. The support was seen again at the local shopping centre as Ramaphosa greeted shoppers.
Some, like Charmaine Motupa, 18, even attained instant celebrity status. Wearing a yellow ANC T-shirt, the Grade 12 pupil in Polokwane joined Ramaphosa in the forefront. She later declared her unwavering support for the ANC.
“I supported Malema while he was still in the ANC, but not any more because he has formed his own party,” she said.