South African Election Guide: National Party may capture city with a difference

CAPE TOWN has always prided itself on having the first motorways in Africa. Within minutes one can soar from the star-shaped castle, built by Dutch settlers near where they landed in Table Bay in 1652, up the slopes of Devil's Peak to Groote Schuur hospital, site of the world's first heart transplant.

Landmarks such as these help to justify the feeling of the 'Mother City' that it is somehow more cultured and tolerant than the rest of South Africa, and that its bid for the 2004 Olympics deserves to succeed. But there is a hole in the city's heart. Halfway between the castle and the hospital is the empty expanse of District Six, where Coloureds (people of mixed race) were removed from the quarter that had always been theirs; nobody has dared build on it since. Travel down Settlers Way, now more tactfully known as the N2, and one comes to Athlone, one of the first dumping-grounds for Coloureds when Cape Town's racial mix was forcibly unscrambled.

Athlone and areas like it are a symbol of centuries of slights and broken promises by the whites to their darker cousins. Next week, for the first time in just over 40 years, Coloureds will vote on the same roll as whites, and might be expected to seek redress for their humiliations. But further down the N2, past the established black townships of Langa, Nyanga and Guguletu, are mile after mile of squatters' shanties worthy of anywhere in the Third World. The presence of these migrants, with their tribal rites and their livestock grazing beside the motorway, is the key to the Western Cape's politics.

The end of 'Coloured preference', which attempted to keep blacks out of the region, has heightened the community's fears that it will lose the scraps of privilege it enjoyed under apartheid. Every bloody clash in Natal or the East Rand frightens mixed-race voters, who make up just over half the 2.2 million total in the Western Cape, into the Nationalist camp. For the African National Congress this is the only region of South Africa where the party will have to come from behind to win.

The result is the crudest election fight in the country. The open collusion between the two parties in other regions is absent here. While the National Party exploits Coloured racism towards blacks, the ANC warns that the Western Cape will suffer if it is alone in backing F W de Klerk's party. The Nationalists have issued a racist comic, now banned, designed to play on Coloureds' fears; the ANC is circulating a leaflet claiming that Hernus Kriel, the hardline Law and Order Minister, who is the Nationalist candidate for premiership of the region, will create a 'Boer state' in the Western Cape if he wins. Neither Mr Kriel nor Allan Boesak, the ANC candidate for regional premier, is regarded locally as an asset to his party.

The ANC can expect to capture most of the black vote, but that is less than a quarter of the total, and the Pan-Africanist Congress hopes the traditional radicalism of Cape Town's black townships will give it up to 10 per cent support there. The traditional party of white middle- class liberals, the Democrats, hopes to pick up the votes of Coloureds who can stomach neither the Nationalists nor the ANC.

If voter intentions do not change, however, the assembly that meets in Cape Town on 6 May to acclaim Mr Mandela as president may be doing so in a region controlled by the National Party. The city's claims to be different from the rest of South Africa would be proved true with a vengeance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower