Former Bay ANC councillor claims coloured people sidelined by ‘Africanist’ party
Coloured representation within the ANC’s Nelson Mandela Bay caucus has raised the ire of some activists in Port Elizabeth’s northern areas who feel they have been sidelined by the party.
There are concerns that the ANC has veered from its policy of non-racialism into an “Africanist party” focused predominantly on the advancement of black Africans.
Following former mayor Danny Jordaan’s resignation from the Bay council, there is only one remaining coloured councillor and one white councillor.
The rest of the caucus – 46 councillors – comprises black Africans.
In a letter to the ANC’s national spokesman Zizi Kodwa, former Bay councillor Lawrence Troon wrote that there was growing dissatisfaction among minority race groups that they were being marginalised.
Although Troon featured on the ANC’s PR elections list, he did not make the cut due to the poll outcome.
He wrote that he felt the spirit and policy of non-racialism in the ANC was “dead and buried”.
“With the immediate resignation of Danny Jordaan, the contingent of ANC councillors is 47 African, one white and one coloured. Compare that to the DA – 16 African, 17 coloured and 24 white. “Surely it is evident that the ANC is fast becoming an Africanist party,” Troon wrote in his letter.
He said it was a similar situation at the Buffalo City Municipality and the rest of the Eastern Cape.
“There is a growing dissatisfaction among minorities that increasingly the ANC is marginalising them and non-racialism is only on paper, ” he said.
“Unless the ANC deals with this matter, more and more minorities will feel uncomfortable in the ANC.”
Troon declined to comment on his letter yesterday.
While five of the ANC northern areas activists who spoke to The Herald agreed with the concerns raised in Troon’s letter, MPL Christian Martin disagreed.
He said had the ANC fared better in the August 3 elections, more coloured people would have made it into the council.
“If the ANC received 60% of the vote, more people from the northern areas would be in,” he said.
“It is not by design that the results are the way they are. “A democratic, free and fair voting process was declared by the IEC.”
However, some ANC members from the northern areas disagreed.
One northern areas branch member said that when Jordaan was appointed mayor, many in the ANC had refused to work with him because he was coloured.
“Even with struggle credentials, they would sabotage him,” he said.
“I support [ Troon] in what he’s saying. “We love the ANC, but for now there is no space for coloured people in the ANC. “We experience it now more than ever, this tribalism that is emerging.”
“We don’t really want to talk about it, but what we are experiencing now is black domination. “We are classified as coloureds and it is now a curse on us. It keeps us from getting our land and our space in the economy,” the branch member said.
Another coloured ANC activist a g re e d that the party was becoming “Africanist”.
“It makes me wonder if there is space for us in the ANC,” he said.
Two other branch members said while they did not necessarily agree with many issues raised by Troon, they felt that he had raised a valid point about coloureds being marginalised.
A fifth northern areas activist said while the ANC constantly preached non-racialism, it was only on paper.
“Activists are talking and asking themselves: ‘What are we still doing here? Do we still have a political home in the ANC?’ “As a way forward, I feel that we should regroup in the branches and seek an audience with Luthuli House.”
Kodwa declined to comment on Troon ’s letter.
“It’s not my letter, it’s his letter,” Kodwa said.
ANC regional spokesman Gift Ngqondi said the ANC was a nonracial organisation and that no leader was chosen on the basis of skin colour, but rather on skill and capabilities.
“The ANC will never champion racism in its own ranks . . . It has never deviated from its vision of a non-racial South Africa,” he said.
“It would be wrong to say the ANC is [tolerating] Africanism in its ranks.”
Ngqondi added that had the ANC received more PR seats, more coloured candidates would have made it to the council.