De Klerk party hits the tribal trail in pursuit of votes
Friday 04 February 1994
The message, brutal in its simplicity, provides a sardonic measure of the task the NP faces if Mr de Klerk is to succeed in his stated objective of securing a significant proportion of the black vote in the coming all-race elections.
On the advice of (among others) Sir Tim Bell - the professional British image-maker who is being paid to do for Mr de Klerk what he did for Margaret Thatcher - the NP has hit upon the device of projecting itself as more African than the ANC.
Thus, on an election stop in a rural village last weekend, Mr de Klerk did what Nelson Mandela has yet to do on the campaign trail and, courtesy of a local chieftain with either a very good or a very bad sense of humour, sheepishly donned traditional African tribal dress.
At the party's national congress, which started on Wednesday and ended yesterday, the white delegates were almost outnumbered by those with dark skins. The congress chairman was a black former member of the ultra-radical Pan-Africanist Congress, and the church minister who led the opening prayer was from Soweto.
The party was trying hard not to be white and the spectacle should have been heart-warming. But the note failed to ring true.
Perhaps it was the speech of the black minister praising Mr de Klerk as a visionary, as the man who liberated black South Africa, who freed the ANC prisoners from the jails. Perhaps it was Mr de Klerk himself confidently urging his audience to ponder the question, 'which of the two main parties - the National Party or the ANC - has dirty hands?' Or perhaps it was the assembled 'new Nats' ' rendition of black South Africa's traditional anthem of liberation, 'Nkosi Sikelele i'Africa' ('God bless Africa').
In Katlehong township, 24 hours earlier, a crowd of around 1,000 ANC supporters who spontaneously gathered to see Mr Mandela had bellowed out the song's melancholy cadences with the jubilation of a crowd whose team has just won a cup final. At the NP rally, however, both the white and black sectors of the audience seemed at an embarrassed loss, most of them lip-reading the words from a big screen.
Why were the blacks there? A number, judging from the zeal with which they aped the ANC liturgy with their 'Viva de Klerk', had evidently undergone a genuine conversions. Others, it was hard to avoid the conclusion, were there for the food and beer.
On Sunday a smiling Mr Mandela had told a crowd of his supporters: 'If the National Party offers you stew, potatoes and an orange to go to the rally, I say go. And then vote for the ANC.'
Some people have already taken Mr Mandela's advice and, no doubt, many more plan to: proof, after all, that there is such a thing as a free lunch.
- 1 Husband creates spreadsheet detailing wife's 'excuses' for turning down sex
- 2 UK pirates will get four warning letters a year
- 3 Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
- 4 Time runs out for Christian Iraq: Isis deadline passes with mass flight
- 5 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
Saneie Masilela, 9, marries Helen Shabangu, 53 years his senior, for the second time
Time runs out for Christian Iraq: Isis deadline passes with mass flight
Miley Cyrus death hoax: Fans distraught after Facebook scam goes viral and she doesn't tweet for three days
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: France and Germany accused of going soft on Putin as sanctions talks stall
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash analysis: A tragic lesson of advanced weapons in the wrong hands
- < Previous
- Next >
£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently seeking a ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...