Free State ANC leaders met a group of Afrikaner community leaders on Thursday in what has been likened to the watershed Dakar talks in 1987 during the apartheid era.
The meeting was in preparation for a planned mass meeting on October 23 between African National Congress leaders and members of the white Afrikaner community in Bloemfontein.
Free State ANC chairman Ace Magashule extended a hand to the province’s white inhabitants on Thursday, saying that the envisaged non-racial and united South Africa would never be realised if the ANC government did not take the white community on board.
”Our focus until now was on our dominant support base, but we have realised that we cannot build without taking the white community on board. You are part of Africa, born and bred here,” Magashule told the group, speaking in a mixture of English and Afrikaans.
”We cannot continue to talk to our black constituency without the whites.”
Magashule said the initiative was not a recruitment drive but that the ANC needed the help of white people.
Senior ANC provincial official Spirit Monyobo, said the meeting in a boardroom in the Braam Fischer municipal building in downtown Bloemfontein reminded him ”very much of the Dakar meeting”.
The historic meeting in the Senegalese capital between Afrikaner intellectuals and exiled liberation movement leaders was widely regarded as the beginning of the negotiations that led to the end of apartheid.
Magashule said: ”We need you as we transform. We still lack certain expertise and we will never get it if we don’t work together. The ANC is the driver of the car for now but it will not keep going if we do not put in petrol and don’t have the mechanics to fix the engine when it breaks down.”
Magashule said political power alone would not address issues such as poverty.
”We need to define a role for the white community. We need to close ranks and work together.” – Sapa