ANC Western Cape brings in Rasool to bolster election campaign

The ANC in the Western Cape has brought veteran Ebrahim Rasool back as a provincial elections boss, and with him at the helm, launched a campaign to win back the support of coloured and black communities in the Democratic Alliance (DA) stronghold.

“The ANC’s renewal has coincided with the DA’s implosion,” Rasool said.

Rasool, a former Western Cape premier, was announced as the party’s provincial elections head on Monday. With his return, the party is embracing its position as an opposition in the province for the 2019 elections.

“We are not in power in the Western Cape, we are the opposition,” Fikile Mbalula, the ANC national elections head, said.

Both Rasool and Mbalula said their party was now targeting a victory over the DA in the province because people are “reinvigorated” by the party’s “unity and renewal” campaign under President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“We must say to the DA your honeymoon is over,” Rasool said. “You will now know what an opposition is all about.”

The ANC’s strategy to win back the Cape

The party will focus primarily on coloured and black communities in its 2019 campaign to challenge the DA.

Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said that “African and coloured solidarity” would be part of the party’s focus, while Rasool said that when the ANC canvassed coloured communities it would ask: “What is the relationship of coloured people to their fellow citizens?”

The party placed emphasis on racism in the Cape, divisions black and coloured people, and the feeling that neither felt a sense of belonging in the city.

For Rasool, he said it was a key motivation for him to return to provincial politics, because Western Cape had diverged from ANC’s commitment to non-racial.

Rasool’s re-emergence

Rasool gained popularity in the Western Cape as a member of the United Democratic Front during the anti-apartheid struggle. But his tenure as Premier in the democratic era was cut short when the party sacked him in 2008.

Rasool maintains the reasons for his dismissal were political and tied to the party’s Polokwane conference, telling the Mail & Guardian on Monday: “I was the dress rehearsal for Thabo Mbeki’s removal.”

In 2010 he was alleged to have paid a local Cape journalist at the Cape Argus to spin favourable stories about him. At the time, he journalist had revealed details of the encounter in an affidavit for the National Prosecuting Authority. The investigation was dropped after witnesses would not cooperate. Rasool maintains his innocence.

With his return, the party is now aiming to use the “institutional memory” he holds with the aim “not of winning votes but winning trust” of people in coloured, black, white and Indian communities.

It will be the first time in around 14 years that the party has seriously campaigned for the province, with Mbalula confirming that he has now been deployed to the Western Cape.

The provincial structures will meet to put together a campaigns team and Rasool will be tasked with building their strategy and leading them. 

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Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

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