If coloured nationalist group Gatvol Capetonian has its way, it will soon be campaigning for the 2019 elections.
The controversial group has become infamous for its derogatory remarks about black people and its calls for the independence of the Western Cape. It confirmed this week that it had applied to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC)
on September 21 to register as a party.
“The time for change is here. All minorities need to stand up for their collective rights. The DA [Democratic Alliance] has failed miserably; Gatvol is your alternative.” This is Gatvol Capetonian president Fadiel Adams’ message to voters.
“We weighed up our options. We didn’t want to go the political route, but the established brown leaders are compromised and none of the other parties is aggressive enough,” he said.
The Cape Town-based group was propelled to national attention after it began agitating for the Western Cape to be separated from the rest of the country. Most notably, the group demanded that, if the Western Cape became independent, all black people from the Eastern Cape should be forced to leave. Adams accused them of stealing land from coloured people.
As yet the group cannot sign on members because it is not registered with the IEC. On Facebook, where it initially gained traction, The Gatvol Capetonian page has 35 936 likes and 38 895 followers.
Adams described the group’s voting base as “mostly the people considered ‘coloured’, but we have strong support from other minority groups and even a few black people see the truth”.
Although the party drew some support after it appeared to be active during land protests mostly by coloured protesters around the Western Cape, it also has its critics.
“I don’t support racism and narrow tribalist politics of any kind. It is my belief that Gatvol Capetonian individuals are being used to split the already fractured Western Cape vote to the benefit of conservative and racist forces,” said Henriette Abrahams, a Bonteheuwel community leader.
Gatvol Capetonian members were forced to leave an anti-gang protest in Bonteheuwel — a predominantly coloured township on the Cape Flats.
Her views that Gatvol Capetonian is being used by “racist forces” was echoed by Victor Altensteadt, the president of the Bishop Lavis Action Committee. He accused the group of “being bankrolled by sinister remnants of the old apartheid state”.
There is no evidence to back up these claims and Adams said the group is “self-funded” but it gets an “occasional donation”, which is spent on community projects. He did not reveal who donates to the party.
Altensteadt said: “They are a very dangerous player on the political front with their secessionist politics. Gatvol Capetonian will reverse some of the gains that were made and will lead us straight into a race war.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the IEC has accepted a political party thatwants the Western Cape to secede from the rest of the country. The Cape Party, which is registered with the IEC, has a similar agenda.
The IEC is still considering Gatvol Capetonian’s application and has said the policies in the party’s constitution will be considered.
Adams said the group was pressing the IEC to reach a decision and issue a certificate because the commission had seemingly missed the deadline to do so. The IEC confirmed that “it is in the interest of the party” to register with the commission before the proclamation of the election date if it wishes to contest.
“I’m not pro-white or anti-black; I’m pro-brown and we are aiming to be aggressive from a pro-brown standpoint,” Adams said.