As local government elections near and political parties take to electioneering, the message from the DA is guaranteed to be about political corruption, jobs in the economy and local service delivery. According to the party “The DA has the best track record of service delivery, where we govern”.
Municipalities at play in this election are Tshwane, Johannesburg, Tlokwe and the Nelson Mandela Bay. For historical reasons, the DA is comfortable in Cape Town and other smaller municipalities, such as Midvaal in Gauteng, owing to a historical and structural context. But there is a pattern in the mosaic of places where the DA finds electoral comfort.
To locate it, we must look at the nature of places the DA governs and examine their origins and recent past. When doing this, what we see are places of privilege and preference, where cruel segregation planning was most odious. Where other provinces had to build from scratch in 1994, the Western Cape – under apartheid henchman and police minister Hernus Kriel as premier – did not even have to look for offices.
All was there and ready. In contrast, the Eastern Cape had to combine four administrations into one. Ghosts left by Bantustan generals Oupa Qgozo and Bantu Holomisa were corruption-imbedded. Lack of infrastructure is there for all to see, because at least 73% of schools were in make-shift mud shelters or under trees.
Apartheid structural planning included town planning that separated people and places according to language, class, earnings and education. In 1948, when the NP came into power on its electoral promise to empower the Boers, it introduced race planning on jobs, health, education, social support and voting rights.
The DA-governed areas are where apartheid spent the most. Coloureds, being the majority group in the Western Cape, have settled themselves as second class to whites. It is not unusual for coloureds to fight anyone who demands that they should own property in Camps Bay or the Waterfront. There is a thread to this connecting to apartheid, where coloured elites lost property rights in 1948. But unlike blacks, coloureds were not subjected to the passbook system in Western Cape.
They were also not deported to the so-called “homelands”. This left South Africa with 70% blacks, 17% coloureds and only 2% whites and Indians poor. The last three groups overwhelmingly vote DA. The Western Cape became a de facto coloured homeland.
Coloureds continue to grant whites the right to rule over them and to enforce the apartheid structure where they are second class and Africans sub-human. In the 1999 and 2004 elections, the ANC ousted the NP with support from rural poor coloureds, who still feel apartheid’s brutality.
The NP disbanded in 2005, but its stranglehold on coloureds remains through the DA. Apartheid-minded NP members found a home in the DA, where you can locate apartheid hitmen councillors and PW Botha-loving MPs.