Paarl.30.11.13. Founder member and president of the Patriotic Alliance Gayton McKenzie and the party's co-founder Kenny Kunene who is the party's secretary-general during the launch of the political party at the Schoongezicht restaurant in Paarl. Picture Ian Landsberg

Cape Town - Neither their leaders’ criminal records, nor the gang affiliation of prominent members will deter political newcomers the Patriotic Alliance (PA) from pursuing their ambitious plan to unseat the DA in the Western Cape.

Entering the political arena at the weekend, PA leader Gayton McKenzie said the party was going to be a “huge force” and would do far more than the DA ever did to transform the lives of the previously disadvantaged in the Western Cape and elsewhere.

McKenzie and his business associate, Kenny Kunene, announced that the party would contest next year’s general elections following its launch in Paarl at the weekend.

Styling itself as the “new radical force” focusing on the needs of the poor, the PA said it would “revive” the coloured communities it claimed had been used as “pawns” by DA leader Helen Zille and her party.

McKenzie said that while Zille was distracted with her “next big challenge, seducing the black vote”, his party would be scooping up the DA’s former support base.

But the DA’s Western Cape leader, Ivan Meyer, is not worried. He said the DA was confident it would increase its electoral support next year.

“The DA is a strong brand in the Western Cape, known for good governance and service delivery.”

Meyer reckoned Western Cape voters had had a history of rejecting small political parties since 1994.

“This is evident when one looks at the ACDP, NP, Freedom Front Plus, UDM, Cope and all other one-man and-woman shows,” Meyer said.

McKenzie claimed that if the DA had paid more attention to the needs of the people who voted it into power, there would not be a call for an alternative party.

“Both the ANC and the DA, both had their chances in the Western Cape and have not done nearly enough.”

He said the PA intended to introduce policies that would lead to “lasting peace in crime-ridden neighbourhoods”. Its policies would transform the fishing sector from a monopoly that was dominated by white capital to an industry that recognised the rights of poor fishing communities. The PA would also have a revolutionary approach to empowerment, he said.

The party would fight to transform the conditions of farmworkers, who, according to McKenzie, were “virtual slaves”, particularly in the Western Cape.

“We will be bold on the land transformation issue, undertaking that land that must be redistributed will be expropriated at a fair rate determined by the state.”

McKenzie said anyone who was looking for a credible alternative would find a political home in the PA.

“People like Kenny (Kunene) and I will build the party, but we won’t run the administration. That will be left to people with qualifications, experience and proven success. Politicians often don’t make good bureaucrats, and vice versa,” he added.

The PA is not deterred that history proves voters reject small parties.

McKenzie used the example of the Democratic Party, which grew from almost no representation in parliament in 1994 into the DA. “We are going to be a huge force,” he said.

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Cape Argus