- Group of white people photographed at the front of ANC rally
- They had allegedly been promised free food parcels to attend the event
- ANC struggles for votes from minority white, Indian and mixed race groups
By DAN NEWLING IN CAPE TOWN
PUBLISHED: 06:29 EST, 14 May 2013 | UPDATED: 04:51 EST, 15 May 2013
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has been accused of bribing poor white people to attend a party rally in an attempt to bolster its multi-racial credentials.
The ANC’s alleged ‘hire a white’ scheme was exposed after more than a 100 poor white people sat in the front few rows of a political rally in the north of the country.
Speaking at the conference, on Saturday, South Africa’s billionaire deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa pointed out the group of whites as proof that the ANC appealed beyond its core black constituency.
‘This is the proof [we are] the party for everyone’, he said.
Despite it being 19 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, the country remains divided by race, especially when it comes to politics.
Photographs of Saturday’s ANC rally in the Free State town of Welkom showed the small group of white people sitting together at the front of a large marquee which was otherwise filled with black people.
South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa pointed out the group of whites as proof that the ANC appealed beyond its core black constituency
The pictures showed how many of the white people at the rally had pulled yellow ANC T-shirts featuring pictures of South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma over their normal clothes.
Despite this show of apparent support for President Zuma, some of the whites in the T-shirts told a local newspaper that they did not know who he was.
The Afrikaans language Volksblad newspaper reported that many of the group seemed ‘confused’, saying they only attended the rally in order to obtain free food parcels.
Although South Africa’s ruling ANC is overwhelmingly popular among the country’s blacks – who make up 80 per cent of its population – it struggles for votes among the country’s other apartheid era race groups: namely whites, Indians and mixed race people.
However, in recent years some black voters have abandoned the party of liberation in frustration with high levels of corruption and unemployment.
As they have started to desert the party – whose figurehead Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president in 1994 – the ANC has started to look for support elsewhere.
It appears to have turned South Africa’s small population of poor, rural, Afrikaans-speaking white people, some of whom may sympathise with the party’s message of fighting exploitation with strong labour laws.
Sandlana Smit, a local ANC politician with responsibility for minorities denied that the white delegates were part of a ‘hire-a-white’ election strategy or that the group had been promised food parcels.
She explained that some of them may not have know who President Zuma was because they were too poor to have access to the media.
She went on to claim that many white South Africans support the ANC.