In the Crownfern area of Phoenix, under a lone streetlight decorated with a DA poster urging residents to vote for One South Africa For All, a group of about 10 people have gathered in the name of the Minority Front (MF).
Phoenix has the homeground advantage for the party formed in the early 1990s to protect the interests of Indians.
The group makes up 90% of residents in the area today and 8% of the population in KwaZulu-Natal.
The area where the meeting happens is dense with overgrown grass and bush, there is a constant buzz of a variety of creepy-crawly life which are at home in the dense vegetation.
Next month’s polls are provincial and national but this outspoken group want to know from MF councillor Jonathan Annipen what can be done about the bush.
The disgruntled residents complain that it has become a haven for vagrants and criminals.
“There was even a hijacking here last week,” one voice shouts above the rest, who are all competing for Annipen’s attention.
There are complaints about the lack of street lights. For a year and a half the area was shrouded in darkness until Annipen intervened, one resident reminds him.
“We want to give up all hope in other parties, we think the way to go is MF but we would expect MF to work for us as well,” says the most outspoken woman in the group.
Having listened attentively to the grievance, Annipen launches effortlessly into the party’s offering.
“We are saying that affirmative action must be scrapped. In many first-world countries or large democracies, affirmative action is for minority groups. It is not for majority groups,” Annipen says passionately.
“I think 25 years into democracy, the largest chunk of voters in this election is the youth and those youth have not been affected by the previous regime or dispensation. Therefore, it is our argument that if you have the largest population in this democracy being the youth, then there is absolutely no reason why you have policies like affirmative action or B-BBEE [broad-based black economic empowerment] or a preferential procurement policy.
“We have said to Parliament already that when we return after May 8, if they are not going to review it, we are going to have to use other means. We are going to have to use organisations such as the UN Human Rights Commission, we are going to have to use other global platforms, even look at what the global criminal court system will say about it because, at the end of the day, affirmative action will not stand the test, not in the Constitutional Court and it will not stand the test even on a day-to-day basis.”
Annipen laments the fact that Indian students are rejected entrance to medical schools and other competitive programmes, before launching into a scathing attack on those who have been carrying out “land grabs”.
“The majority of places where these things are actually happening is in the former Indian areas,” he says as the residents murmur in agreement.
“Parliament in the past few years has been an absolute disgrace.”
“A circus,” someone chimes in for good measure.
“With the advent of the EFF going to Parliament and the statements that Julius Malema has made, I am in no way a racist but I think that if you want to look at how people are being treated, let us look at the unfairness as far as policies and programmes are concerned because that is where it all starts.
“If you disempower a person as far as legislation is concerned, you have crippled that individual, you have killed that community.”
Annipen claims the ANC government has given only 1% of the housing allocation to Indians.
“If that is not marginalisation, I don’t know what is.”
He tells the group he needs them to lobby other residents and acquaintances to vote for the Minority Front and help them reclaim the party’s seats.
He says that under the founding leader Amichand Rajbansi, who has since died, the party held two seats in the National Assembly and two seats in the provincial legislature.
Now the party has only one seat in the provincial legislature.
“Where are the MF posters?” one resident wants to know.
The party spokesperson explains that they are working overtime to get them up and when they do, a lot are torn down or covered with the posters of their competitors.
With the meeting done, Annipen tells City Press that the MF no longer is just for Indians.
“You look at people in the LGB community, they are a minority community. You look at any person who feels that they are numerically less when it comes to a particular issue, people who promulgate same-sex marriages or abortion or who talk about assisted suicide.
"So those are all minority groups, our aim as the MF has evolved over time. We are not only looking at Indians as a minority anymore, the coloured community and white community are minority groups.”
He says the party is engaging in a programme to woo back its supporters who abandoned the party after the death of Rajbansi when a leadership battle ensued.
The current leader and widow of Rajbansi won that battle which resulted in a breakaway party called the Democratic Liberal Party.
Annipen admits that all “former Indian areas” were won by the DA in the wake of the infighting which paralysed the party.
The party, however, believes that the DA have failed Indian communities and that the ground is fertile for a comeback on May 8.