McKenzie: Opposition parties, incl PA, may be giving ANC a “free pass” of 5 more years

In a potentially watershed interview, Patriotic Alliance president Gayton McKenzie acknowledges his own mistakes and says South Africa’s opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the PA, need to mature fast or they’ll hand the African National Congress (ANC) another five years after the national election in May 2024. McKenzie says his leadership team is heading off on a learning visit to Israel, a country which has had a coalition government ever since its founding 75 years ago – and is hopeful this will teach his party the importance of maturity and unity among opposition parties, as their infighting undermines their credibility. In this wide-ranging discussion, McKenzie also touches on how the Moonshot Pact could work, but predicts that if the opposition doesn’t sort themselves out, the ANC will be able to retain power in 2024 by choosing between his PA and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as potential coalition partners. If this doesn’t energise the opposition parties, you have to wonder what will. – Alec Hogg

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 01:36 – Gayton on the lack of maturity between opposition parties
  • 05:30 – On President Ramaphosa’s mistake
  • 11:57 – On the PA laying charges of electoral fraud on the ANC
  • 20:48 – On the fundraising debacle
  • 24:51 – On Beaufort West
  • 29:56 – End

Listen here


Edited transcript of the interview

Alec Hogg: It’s hard to believe that the Patriotic Alliance will be turning 10 years old in November, but it only seems to be shaking up the political scene in the last little while. Gayton McKenzie, the co-founder, is with us today to catch up on some extraordinary things that have happened recently, including another very strong by-election showing. Of course, we shall not talk about “that” interview with the SABC. I’m sure you would like to confine that to history. It was rather extraordinary to see that you even went to that interview in the first place. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re in the public eye.

Gayton McKenzie: You know, definitely there was a mess. I think it was just Malema sending his boy to try to deal with him, but I sent him back with his tail between his legs.

Alec Hogg: I think many will agree with you on that. But last time we spoke, about two months ago, it was after the Swellendam by-election, where there were some very strong signals that the Patriotic Alliance was starting to really hit its stride. Now we can talk about an election in the Eastern Cape, Kokama Ward 5, where the PA grew dramatically. The Democratic Alliance contracted significantly, but you split the vote in the ANC.

Gayton McKenzie: I think that is just the truth we must face, which neither the DA nor the PA wants to face. But it’s a truth we have to confront at some point. This is not about blaming the DA; it’s about pointing the finger at both of us and acknowledging that when the DA and the PA don’t work together, the ANC benefits. It’s an uncomfortable truth we have to admit. It has happened in Swellendam, it has happened in Kokama, and it might happen in George, where there are three upcoming by-elections. If we don’t get our act together, George could fall into the hands of the ANC. The next few months are crucial for us to mature as parties. However, I’m not very hopeful about that. The opposition is inadvertently giving the ANC another five years, including the PA.

Alec Hogg: When you look at it from the outside, it certainly seems like the opposition parties are fighting amongst each other, and voters are questioning why they should give their vote to parties that are bickering and fighting with each other. It’s easier to stick with the devil you know.

Gayton McKenzie: That’s very true. A friend of mine in the ANC once told me that the only saving grace for the ANC is the hatred among the opposition parties for each other. It’s the reason why they still have a chance. People don’t like what the ANC has done, but they see the opposition parties fighting amongst themselves and prefer to stick with the known. We need a lot of maturity to happen, and we all have lessons to learn. The PA, for instance, brought arrogance to the table, and the same goes for other parties. We need to own our mistakes and find a way to work together. There’s no moonshot pact without the Patriotic Alliance, just as there’s no moonshot pact without the DA or Action SA. We may not like each other, but our hatred for each other is greater than our hatred for the ANC. It’s a problem we need to address, or else history will judge us all unkindly.

Read more: 2024 Elections: Opposition parties face an uphill battle in dethroning ANC

Alec Hogg: Lots of maturity is needed, as you say, and hopefully, we’ll have all of you at the business conference in the Berg in March, and maybe you can find each other there as well, but that might be too late. It’s important to get it done now and soon.

Gayton McKenzie: Yeah, you know, President Ramaphosa has made one mistake. Without realising it, he announced the election date for Northwest in May. I don’t think he intended to do that. It’s easy to blame Helen Zille and others from the PA’s side, but the issue is deeper than that. We need to have a discussion and understand that there can be no moonshot pact without the Patriotic Alliance (PA). That might not be appealing to many, but it’s the reality. Similarly, there can be no moonshot pact without the DA or Action SA. We need to recognise that all parties are essential for a successful coalition. Our animosity towards each other is greater than our disdain for the African National Congress (ANC), and that’s the problem we’re facing. History will judge us all, including myself, harshly because the ANC has had 30 years of rule, which I consider as misrule.

The ANC has had its chance, whereas other countries like Japan, Rwanda, and Singapore have made significant progress in much shorter periods. The ANC seems unable to provide a clear roadmap for our country’s future. However, if the opposition fails to come together, we will pay for our sins one day. This is not about blame but recognising our own mistakes. I admit that the PA has displayed arrogance at times, and the same goes for other parties. We need to acknowledge our mistakes and our current situation. That should be the first step. Some people may say things like the PA is a puppet of the ANC, but the truth is we all want power, and sometimes the ANC is willing to share that power with us. Coalition politics is about power-sharing agreements. If the DA offers us four slices of the pie, and the ANC says we can have six, it would be irresponsible of me to settle for four when there are six available for my people.

We need to move beyond focusing on the ANC alone. For example, recently the DA and the EFF voted out the PA mayor in the Ditsobotla municipality in the Northwest. I don’t hold it against the DA for doing that because they did it for the greater good. They prioritised what would benefit the people. So they should also understand our decisions. After 2024, the ANC will regroup. I don’t believe they will get 45% as some claim. The ANC’s support will depend on their ability to address issues like load shedding. Without addressing those concerns, their support will likely drop to the 30s. Even with load shedding resolved, they will still need to choose between Action SA, IFP, the DA, PA, and potentially the EFF. The EFF will push the ANC further to the left to secure their support. The EFF will present their conditions, whereas other parties, including the PA, believe in the free market system. Personally, I lean more toward conservatism than both of them.

Alec Hogg: Really good background, good insight that you’ve given us there. And indeed your party yesterday laying charges of electoral fraud against the ANC in Koukamma Ward 5 shows that you aren’t joined at the hip, not by any means. But if we just go forward, Herman Mashaba (Action SA leader) told us last week he feels the only way you can move forward with this Moonshot Pact or with free enterprise political parties, is that if you all sign something, that you say you’ll never work with the ANC again, and go to jail if you break it. He says, it’s gotta be really, really hard. What do you think of that suggestion? Because what he’s worried about is that the DA is using all of you and then come 2024, the DA and the ANC will form a government.

Gayton McKenzie: You know what is not a lie is that, you know, this came out of the mouth of John Steenhuisen, he’s not what I’m going to tell you now – we just had a conversation one day with a few people, which is obviously not a secret because he said it in front of a lot of people. And he said the following thing which was very telling for me, he said, Ramaphosa had all the goodwill at a certain time. And the people that used to give the DA money, gave Cyril money. He said with all that goodwill, President Cyril Ramaphosa still didn’t manage to turn that into mass support for the ANC. Now what I take from that and how I link it with what you just said is that surely those funders share a belief in Cyril Ramaphosa and they share a belief in the DA. Now Mary Oppenheimer, Malema spoke about it in the Sunday Times yesterday although he didn’t mention her name, but I knew he was talking about her. Mary said to Paul Mashatile I’m not going to give you money. I’ll only give Cyril money, but I won’t give the ANC money. And she flatly refused. In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Malema mentioned that.

Now, the reason why I’m saying that is, when the funders, which play a massive role in politics, in decisions that leaders take, that’s why we’re trying to shy away from those funders, because the funders of the DA and the founders of Ramaphosa who’d like them to form an alliance. Hence, a lot of white people don’t know how racist this is for Coloured people. When white people are saying to the PA, don’t work with ANC. But when John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille and Geordin Hill-Lewis are saying the same thing, the very same white people are quiet. Now in my community, they’re like, look at those racists. They want to tell us what to do, but they say nothing when the white person does that.

And that’s what I was explaining to Rob Hersov the other day. I said, you cannot say that, but because it is wrong. If working with the ANC is wrong, it should be wrong for the PA and it should be wrong for the DA. Now you come around and you say, Gayton, you must join this Moonshot Pact. That’s what John Steenhuisen told me. He says, Gayton, you can join this Moonshot Pact, but you have to sign here.

When you sign here, you must say you will never work with ANC. I said, but you are on record and you’re still not denying it that as a last option you’re willing to work with ANC. What makes you better? Is it your skin color?

What makes you better? And those are the questions. Now, Herman Mashaba’s idea. I can tell you now what I think should happen and this is a slightly different from Herman Mashaba’s one. He says, I think what we must do, let’s take Johannesburg for instance. There’s a vote of No Confidence Action SA is putting on this new mayor. I think what should be happening is we need to go in the room with coalition partners, and we should agree on something. And then we should have a press conference and say to the voters what we’ve agreed upon. Because that’s where the problem lies, not the fear of jail or send people to jail. It’s going to take you 10 years to send somebody to jail. What we should be doing is we should go in there and say, we’ve agreed on this as the five parties that want to unseat the ANC in the city of Joburg or anywhere else. This is what PA shall be doing. This is what the DA shall be doing. And then we can make that document an order of the court. And then the public will then say, who has gone when this coalition falls tomorrow? The public will then go and say, no, but it’s because of the PA. The PA is dead.

But you see, the problem that nobody wants to talk about, Alec, is the following three things. When it comes to this coalition, there’s so much hatred and personal animosity. You sit in that meetings and it’s like World War III. John is married to the ex-wife of Michael Beaumont. He took Michael’s wife and Beaumont hates John Steenhuisen. Helen Zille hates Gayton, Gayton hates Helen Zille. The DA is thinking we are taking Coloured support back from them, which is their backbone. Those are personal issues amongst us in those meetings.

Read more: The decline of Johannesburg: Why Africa’s richest city is crumbling

When these people speak to each other, and you look at Action SA, it’s the worst meeting you can ever attend. When Action SA speaks and the DA speaks, there’s contempt, even in their voices. The contempt in answering the question—it’s sarcasm, bordering on rudeness. What I’m saying to you is that we are giving the ANC a free pass. If we are such ANC lackeys, why is it that when John asked me and Mashaba asked me, “Can you vote against the ANC in Tshwane? Can you vote for us for the budget?” Without demanding anything, I did vote for the opposition, for the coalition, just to show my bona fides. But I am not gonna become, for lack of a better word, their “bitch”, where they say, “Do this, go there, go there.” Then I’m selling my people out. What I’m saying is let us get together. And a lot of your listeners need to really listen to themselves also because I’ve seen that. They comment, “Yeah, it’s just ANC lackeys.” I’m like, “Oh, so what is Helen Zille?” And she says, “I’m going to work with ANC.”

2024, this is my prediction. The ANC will have two choices. They will have a choice. Do they want to go with? They will get around 41%. I think PA will get 10%. We grew 16 times the last time, and I think we’re going to grow 13 times this time, which will give us 10%. We are going for 10% by the way, as the Patriotic Alliance. I think the ANC will be spoiled for a choice. They will have either PA or the EFF to choose from. I think the price for the EFF will be too high to pay because the EFF will demand expropriation without compensation, which we don’t believe in the PA. We want the expropriation with compensation. You have to pay a man if you take his land, if you can take the land from him, market value. So our position is very clear. We want foreigners to be mass-deported. So I think the ANC will have a choice between the EFF and the ANC. We’ve consistently beaten the EFF in by-elections. And there’s a big one coming on the 29th June. And we’re going to beat them again. So I think that is where the choice will come. The DA, Action SA, Freedom Front Plus, all of them, we need to all say we can’t go without each other. This Moonshot Pact will not work if the DA is not part of it. There’s going to have to come some serious maturity, even from the side of the PA, because we are not blame-free here.

Alec Hogg: Gayton, there’s an article in News24 about the fundraiser. Now, this is confusing to me because when we spoke last at the BizNews conference, you told us about Rob Hersov offering you a billion rand in funding, and that you turned it down. Now we have a news article which says that you raised R3m and effectively stole it. What’s going on there?

Gayton McKenzie: Let me give you the real story. There are two stories. First, I have a personal issue with the editor of News24, Adriaan Basson. This is my opinion. I see him as a small boy in a big candy store. He wrote negative things about me, so I took him to court and won the case. The court ordered him to apologize. Therefore, everything you see now is his revenge for the apology. That’s where it starts. I just wanted to give some context.

We raised money through a Gala Dinner in Sandton, around R700,000 to R800,000. The first invoice we received was 1.1 million for the first group of toilets. When we raised the money, I informed the council that I would come back to report on what I had done with the funds. The council has now scheduled a date for September 10th for me to provide a report on my activities. Some people are now claiming that I did not deposit the money into the municipality’s account. How could I? When I arrived there, I found thieves. Should I have given them the money we raised and let them steal it further? It was never a secret that the money existed. However, you can’t solely blame the DA. They are simply taking advantage of my dispute with Adriaan Basson. Adriaan Basson even called me for a meeting, but I could tell his intention was probably to get me to withdraw the case. He didn’t mention it directly, but in hindsight, we sat down and agreed to bury the hatchet. A week later, he went after me again, even after we had shaken hands and said that if he were to write negatively about me, it should be based on facts. We are back in court again with him. In conclusion, on September 10th, I am inviting all media outlets to Central Karoo Council, where I will provide a report on the money we raised, the R700,000 and something, in Sandton, and what we have done with the other funds. For example, there is a person who gave me money to fix some pools in Joburg, and we are currently working on that. So on the 10th of September, we will give a comprehensive report.

However, I will never apologize for not giving the thieves I found in Central Karoo the money that my friends donated. Lastly, regarding the issue of the billion rand and Rob Hersov- Rob and a group of four other successful business people approached me with a clear intention to form a pact against the African National Congress (ANC), aiming to remove the ANC from power. Even some governments approached me, expressing the same desire. However, that is not how I operate. One of Rob’s suggestions was that we should not compete with the DA in the Western Cape, which I disagreed with. It would be suicide for the Patriotic Alliance since we are strongest there. I told Rob that I wasn’t interested in his suggestion, and he respected my decision. He is still advocating for an independent Western Cape, which I dislike. While some of his points make sense, the majority don’t align with my beliefs.

So, anyone who wants to accuse me can come on the 10th of September, as it’s an open invitation. They can see the swimming pools that they claim we didn’t fix. I will be touring with the media, inviting each and every media house to join me in opening the books and showing them the money we raised and how it is being spent. They can verify it with me. This is just a fight between two people who have had a 20-year-long mutual hatred for each other.

Alec Hogg: Gayton, the Beaufort West story is developing in an intriguing manner. I know you have been advocating strongly for fracking. I had an interesting discussion with the State’s chief geologist (Mosa Mabuza), who revealed that the well drilled near Beaufort West indicates the presence of eight trillion cubic feet of gas (8 TCF). Considering that Moss gas ran for 30 years on 1 TCF, it’s clear that there is significant potential there. Are you still actively pursuing this? It seems that what lies beneath the ground could transform the entire district.

Gayton McKenzie: Yes, during my previous appearance on your show, I mentioned that I will stand up for the people of Beaufort West. As a leader elected by the people there, and with my party being elected by them as well, we won’t allow the eight blocks to be put on auction without including a clause for the community of Beaufort West to have a free carry. The people of Beaufort West don’t fully grasp what this discovery means for their town. Two things will happen: the national government will rush in and employ their usual tactics, similar to what mining companies do, including myself in the past. They would offer a thousand people jobs, and then it would no longer be our fight. The employed individuals now have jobs, and they would clash with those who don’t. The eight blocks, specifically the one they have already drilled and obtained results from, are just a fraction. According to the Americans, we have nearly 300 million TCFs (trillion cubic feet) of gas in the entire Karoo region.

Alec Hogg: Throughout the Karoo?

Gayton McKenzie: Yes, throughout the Karoo. But Beaufort West is about to become the Dubai of South Africa. When I referred to it as Dubai, some people misunderstood, thinking that I wanted to build a Dubai myself. But sometimes, stupidity has no remedy. However, when people start going there, they will realize the potential. We shouldn’t prevent business people from coming in, but we want the communities to have a free carry in every block. When the big players come, my phone doesn’t stop ringing, they must understand that 5% or 10% of the project’s equity is a free carry for the community. This way, the community will support them. However, we won’t allow gas extraction in the Karoo to follow the same pattern as what happened in Kimberley, leaving the community with nothing but a Big Hole. The people must benefit. An American company that spoke to me compared this opportunity to the Gold Rush in Johannesburg. They are all coming, and they will transform the place. I’m glad I fought for this and provided political direction and courage in this matter.

Read more: Mashaba on Moonshot’s dealbreaker, “that book” and enlisting new voters

Alec Hogg: The percentage is crucial, 5 to 10%, because when South Africa was starting to exploit offshore gas on the East Coast, Jacob Zuma wanted 80% as a free carry, which was unrealistic. I believe there is a global norm that can satisfy all parties?

Gayton McKenzie: As a businessman before being a politician, I understand business. What I don’t want is for the community to become ordinary shareholders, because when a call is made for additional investment in the business, they will also be asked to contribute, resulting in dilution. We know how some people play gymnastics with numbers. My proposition is to give the community a free carry, whether it’s 2%, 5%, or 10%, where they don’t have to invest any money. The community will have jobs and other benefits. But at the end of the day, when the profits start flowing, there should be a sort of waterfall arrangement that also benefits the community from the beginning. That’s essentially what I’m advocating. However, giving away 80% equity is not feasible for any business to survive. No business can sustain such a significant loss in ownership. But offering 5% as a free carry to the entire community is a fair arrangement that ensures their benefits.

Alec Hogg: It’s an incredible story. We have been closely following it at business.com. When James Lorimer from the DA, the Shadow Minerals Minister, discussed this topic, his story was read by 75,000 people. That level of interest is rare for a business article, but it demonstrates that significant developments are unfolding in the gas sector. And as you mentioned earlier, this could be the equivalent of Johannesburg’s Gold Rush for Beaufort West. It’s an incredibly exciting time. Gayton McKenzie, co-founder and leader of the Patriotic Alliance, thank you once again for this conversation. I’m Alec Hogg from BizNews.com.

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