'We will rehabilitate gays and lesbians'

By Time of article published Feb 13, 2009

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By Lindsay Dentlinger

The revived National Party will accept gay and lesbian members who they would help to "rehabilitate" despite campaigning for same sex marriages to be abolished.

The party re-launched a revised election manifesto in the Bo-Kaap on Thursday, a month after it was launched by the party's former spokesperson, Juan Duval Uys.

Following a legal wrangle over the party's leadership, Uys, who has in the past said he was gay, agreed to resign from the party last week.

The NP's women affairs leader Elize Sprague claimed, that in the absence of proof, the party did not to know that Uys was gay and said changes to the election manifesto which did not previously include abolishing same sex marriages, had nothing to do with Uys' departure.

"The party is open to all. We don't approve (of homosexuality), but there is nothing we can do about people's lifestyle. We won't exclude them, we will rather rehabilitate them. We regard them as South Africans and we will still serve them," Sprague said.

The party's collective executive leadership yesterday re-affirmed that it would be contesting the elections this year.

For the sake of the party's campaign materials it would elect a national leader at the end of the month to appear on posters, said one of the party's founding members Achmat Williams.

But the party would be registered with the IEC as having a collective leadership.

The new manifesto includes 16 points which include reinstating the death penalty for convicted murderers and rapists as well as life imprisonment for drug lords.

The party would also like to see the reintroduction of corporal punishment and religious instruction at schools.

The party's leadership on Thursday denied claims by Uys that the party was divided along religious lines. Williams said the party embraced both Christian and Muslim values.

Former Drakenstein deputy mayor Jacky Noland said the NP will be campaigning for increased salaries for teachers, the re-opening of teacher training colleges and an increase of the state pension to R2 000.

Williams would not confirm the party's membership base at present, but said their campaign efforts were hoping to achieve a target of 5 000.

Sprague said the former Nats in the party would be reviving the techniques of the old NP to recruit members.

The NP confirmed that Mymoena Bedford would be the NP's provincial leader.

Bedford testified in the Cape High Court last year that she had helped convicted murderer Najwa Petersen obtain a cellphone number for Fahiem Hendricks, the man who arranged a hit on her music icon husband, Taliep Petersen.

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