Will small parties in Western Cape eat into DA support?

Though Adams believes in nonracialism, he is cognisant of the need for a party that exclusively looks at the interests of coloured communities. “At this point in SA’s democracy we shouldn’t be speaking about ‘my people’ and ‘your people’, but at some point someone has to talk about my [coloured] people. People like me need to take their pride back, we need a bit of coloured nationalism.”

In a 2019 article titled “The myth of the coloured vote unpacked”, Africa argues the coloured majority in the Western Cape votes according to the conduct of the political parties rather than along racial lines, though identity politics cannot be divorced from the SA political landscape.

“Framing our analysis first and foremost in demographic terms is problematic. I am not saying that we must be colour-blind and this is not to deny that lived experiences in the Western Cape are still racialised. Information networks, where and how we live our lives as well as our life opportunities are still racialised. We also still see apartheid spatial patterns in the province,” Africa writes. 

“The problem with focusing our attention on the demographic characteristics of the electorate is that it deflects attention away from political parties. Flawed assumptions and an undue preoccupation with ‘the coloured vote’ can lead parties and political leaders into racially inflammatory rhetoric in an attempt to win votes. It can also negatively feed into the choices and actions of political parties.”

Adams believes his party will make some headway in these elections based on the work it has done in communities.

“We will definitely have representation at provincial and national level with no money to campaign. We are a solution-driven party, not marketing driven. We just go out there to do what needs to be done. That is why we are well represented in the Cape Town council because people have seen us take radical decisions and our work speaks for itself.”

Mathekga says: “We have to wait and see if this mobilisation around identity politics and the coloured vote is just rhetoric or there will be government programmes and funding targeted at the coloured communities.”  

Africa says: “One would hope that questions such as ‘How do we make inroads into the coloured vote?’ and ‘How do we retain coloured support?’ can become a thing of the past.

“Instead of reverting to the default explanation that voters vote on the basis of identity, parties need to start taking responsibility and introspecting about what it is that makes them gain or lose votes. Party behaviour and decisions, campaign messages and what happens between elections are important factors to voters.”

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