This week, political parties throughout the country competed for seats within their respective metro’s in the Local Municipal Elections. For many Muslim parties, particularly in the Western Cape, the provisional results have been a source of great dissatisfaction. While, Muslim parties appose blatant corruption, which has greatly impact the leading party’s image, many assert that the victory of the Democratic Alliance (DA) within the Western Cape is a worse reality.
The DA in Cape Town is currently in the lead with a total number of 66 seats tallied thus far. Current results reflect 66.15 per cent voter support for the party within the City. Trickling behind is the African National Congress (ANC) with 28 seats and 24.64 per cent voter support. Third in line is the EFF with 3.24 per cent, ACDP with 1.23 per cent, and Al-Jama with 0.71 per cent.
One Muslim party that has made head way in Cape Town is Al-Jama, which in fifth place appears to be making far reaching strides within the Muslim community.
Speaking to VOC, president of the Al-Jama Ganief Hendricks explains that while he is disappointed at the DA’s victory he is ecstatic with the provisional results as it indicates that the party has made incremental growth.
He says that while in 2011 the party received 3500 votes and one seat, in the 2016 the party received 8690 votes, which was pushed up to 15 056 votes.
“Just before jumuah it was announced that we got our first official seat in Stanga, Kwazulu- Natal, where the party decided to test the waters. The results have not been officially announced, but we hope to receive one to three seats in Cape Town. If we get three seats we will be the only Muslim party in the city metro. It will go a long way to unite the Muslim vote,” Hendricks stated.
Why did Cape Muslims vote for the DA?
Speaking to VOC, Leader of the Cape Muslim Congress (CMC) Yagyah Adams explains that the provisional results indicate that many parties used the elections opportunistically in a bid to “secure jobs for themselves.”
He says that within Cape Town many parties who received votes have no history of serving the community and that CMC’s tangible support was not reflected in the results.
“CMC’s website has received more than 1, 3 million hits and we published 380 letters in the Cape Times, but this did not translate into votes, which means people have been reading what we have written but did not vote for us,” Adams added.
In addition, Adams says that while larger parties receive funding from their parliamentary stipend, smaller parties were unable to garner as much votes as the leading parties due to a lack of capital.
“The fact that we had to sponsor ourselves completely, with no funding from any entity, the CMC’s entire budget of R100 000 came out of my own pocket, which was an enormous strain on my family.”
In response to the DA’s expected land slide win, Adam says that the Muslim community has “let the Muslim parties down.”
“If you put CMC and Al-Jama’s vote together, it only comes to 1 per cent of the vote, which a very sad indictment on the Muslim community.”
Given the nature of democracy, Adams asserts that despite Muslims enjoying the right to vote for whichever party they deem fit, they will need to “live with the consequences of their choice.”
“They had the opportunity to have a balanced council, but they gave the DA an overwhelming majority. So, if the gentrification of Bo-Kaap, Woodstock or Salt River is going to take place, then you must not complain.”
Adams explains that in analysing the current results, he is unable to understand why many Muslims chose to vote outside what he describes as their moral framework.
He says that by Muslims choosing to vote for the DA, they have ignored their previous call for justice in Palestine.
“This needs to be analyzed, because what we say and we do does not correlate – this is not the conduct of a Muslim,” he stated.
Also, criticizing the DA’s victory, Hendricks says that Al-Jama is disappointed at the defeat of the ANC within the Western Cape, since it has resulted in the DA winning a two-thirds majority, which he asserts may result in a civil war.
“I still don’t have my freedom in the City of Cape Town because we will still be under ‘white rule’.”
Echoing Adams sentiment, Hendricks asserts that Muslims should vote in line with their moral values and vote for parties that speak to a just cause, such as the issue of Palestine.
Why did the ANC lose votes within the Cape Muslim community?
In light of the ANC loss, where for the first time it received less than 60 per cent of votes nationally, Adams asserts that Muslim communities of the Cape have acted against the call of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).
The body recently hosted President Jacob Zuma in the heart of the Muslim community. In welcoming Zuma, president of the MJC, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams describing himself as “a Zuma man” affirmed his support for the ANC and Zuma.
He further notes that the results reflect that the MJC does not have the perceived influence over the Muslim community that many may assume they enjoy.
“Either the Muslim community did not take the ANC seriously, it did not take the MJC seriously, it did not take them both seriously, or the Muslim community just does not care,” Adams added.
Also reining in on the ulama body, Hendricks notes that the DA’s victory within the Muslim community is directly linked to the MJC president declaring himself “a Zuma man,” describing the Muslim vote as a “protest vote.”
He says that while the Muslim community would be willing to vote for the ANC, the president’s assertions did the ANC a great disservice.”
“We know that Muslims and others have strong feelings toward president Zuma. Although he has made strong contributions to the country, in the last few years he has angered a lot of people,” Hendricks continued.
How have other small parties faired
In a previous interview that took place on voting day, Al-Shura’s Leader explained that the party expected to garner many votes within the City of Cape Town, expecting 30 seats.
The party did not, however, achieve its expected goals.
Leader of Sizwe Ummah, Hidayatullah Harnekar said that while the party participated in the election, the 2016 local election was a means to inform voters of the party and its manifesto and, therefore, did not have big goals for the party.