“VOTE for the ANC,” African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe bellows. But, sitting beside him, Coloured Consciousness leader Jerome Lottering says: “That ship has sailed.”
They were addressing journalists following a meeting in Parktown between the ANC and the coloured community.
The banter between Mr Mantashe and Mr Lottering was cordial, but reflected tension between the party and the community 21 years into democracy.
The ANC has bemoaned its drop in support among minority communities. In documents released this week ahead of next month’s national general council meeting, the party notes that more and more coloureds and Indians are “drifting” to the Democratic Alliance (DA).
Mr Lottering is from the Camissa Movement for Equality in Eldorado Park — where the DA won 84% of the vote in 2011.
Thursday’s “robust” talks were held between the ANC and coloured community leaders from across the country as racial tension continued to simmer at Roodeport Primary, where residents had been protesting over the appointment of an African principal.
Discussions included complaints by the coloured community that it has been marginalised, particularly in the implementation of employment equity policies.
Mr Lottering and John van Rooyen of the Gauteng Khoi San community said government policies were not the problem, rather it was the way coloured people were told they were not “black enough” when they applied for positions.
Mr Mantashe hit back, saying often members of the coloured community did not want to be black. “Sometimes you get marginalised and sometimes you marginalise yourselves. The term black covers everyone including Indians,” he said.
Mr Mantashe said it was factually incorrect to say coloureds were excluded in employment equity, citing former Eskom CE Brian Dames as an example.
Mr van Rooyen spoke of the need for a “Brown Business Council” to represent coloured people at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac). “We find that in some institutions we have been excluded … in Nedlac we do not have a say.”
Mr Mantashe disagreed. “We want an integrated nation … we don’t want to create Bantustans.”
The talks would be taken forward — a programme would be put in place for further interaction. Mr Mantashe said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan and Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor had also come to take forward any issues the coloured community had in their specific portfolios.
Thursday’s talks also took place in the context of next year’s local government elections, in which the ANC will be under pressure in key municipalities.
The ANC on Thursday also learned it had lost a ward in hotly contested Nelson Mandela Bay to the United Democratic Movement.