Wednesday, 14 May 2014

PA’s post-election plans

The Patriotic Alliance (PA) was launched in 2013 in the hope that it would become a viable and credible alternative to the DA and the ANC. That is a hope that the party’s founders and members continue to hold.

This party is grateful to the more than 13 000 people who understood the vision and aims of PA and cast their vote for us. Naturally, we expected much more support and the enormous amount of work that the party put in ahead of the elections led us to believe that we would do a great deal better last week. However, in politics it does take time to change voter patterns and attitudes and we believe that a strong foundation has been laid from which to grow PA and ultimately make it a force to be reckoned with. We received almost half of our votes in provinces that we barely campaigned, which tells us that now is the time to build strong institutional structures so that party members nationwide can begin to activate support in their areas. We expected the Western Cape to give us our largest chunk of support, and while that was indeed the case, it’s clear that this party’s message needs to go out more strongly if we are to reach the people who need our green revolution the most. Our president has spent the days following the election travelling to branches, to encourage them and explain the plans for the future.

We need all other provinces to come on board for the future. One lesson from this election for us is that one cannot rely too heavily on one area or one section of the electorate, especially when you have a manifesto like our own, which can appeal to any South African.

We focused a great deal on the so-called coloured vote. We made inroads in this constituency and the injustices visited upon coloured people will remain high on our agenda, but it cannot remain our sole focus and was never intended to. All the same, it is simply not acceptable that the “coloured vote” can be attracted so cheaply. Our people need more than T-shirts, food parcels and statistics on billboards at voting time. They need to be given business opportunities in the areas they live; they need to be given ownership of council homes that they have been paying for decades; they need access to their age-old fishing rights; they need to be able to walk freely without fear of being shot in gang violence; they need to be treated as equal citizens and acknowledged as people who are as dispossessed, or even more dispossessed, than any other group in South Africa. The day will come when they will no longer vote for parties who do no more for them than offer empty promises.

Nevertheless, all South Africa’s people deserve better. We took a decision during the formation of this party that we would focus our time and resources on offering a political solution to coloured people that they had never had before. Part of that came about because of our successful peace-making efforts in gang areas. But PA is about far more than only that, and now that we have more time available, we will be demonstrating why we took pains to point out that we are truly a non-racial party. Before this election, we already took on the cause of the Klipheuwel community, which is a disgrace to the Durbanville municipality. These people have been living in Klipheuwel since the eighties and still cannot be given one electricity connection. All they have received from successive governments in charge was empty promises at voting time. The Durbanville municipality has already contradicted itself by building piped water connections in Klipheuwel, only to say that it cannot now add electricity connections on private land. Why is the municipality happy to “break the law” for water supply, but not for electricity? The answer is that it suits their budget, but that is a travesty. The Klipheuwel community became so disaffected that they vowed never to vote again. In its turn, PA took their plight to the Human Rights Commission, which has subsequently escalated their case to the Public Protector. Most of the affected people here are not part of the coloured community, and we feel equally strongly about their difficult conditions. Similarly, in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Langa and many other areas in the Western Cape and, of course, countrywide, our people are being taken for granted by ruling parties. One day that tide must turn.

PA is here to improve all of South Africa, whether you are white, black, coloured, Indian or anything else. We want these labels to become relatively meaningless, but that is only possible if we can all become equal economically, politically and socially.

PA will work towards a time when all people will be demonstrably equal. We knew from the outset that the task of changing people’s lives is not something that can be achieved overnight.

We will be contesting another two by-elections on 28 May, and others will also follow. The only by-election that we contested, earlier this year, was in Vredendal (the Matzikama region) and we placed third overall there during this general election, with more than 5% of the vote. That indicates the value of contesting such smaller elections vigorously. This will be part of our plan towards building for the 2016 local government elections.

We trust that, slowly but surely, the electorate will come to understand that PA is here for them and is here to stay. There will come a tipping point when PA becomes what we always knew it could be and what our detractors still fear it might be.


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