ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS
Could Virgill Gericke be the EFF’s secret weapon in the Western Cape?
The EFF is trying to grow its support in the Western Cape and has seemingly struck a deal with a small party that has been doing well on the Garden Route.
Last week, impeached former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was sworn in as an EFF Member of Parliament (MP) alongside the former leader of Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI)/Local Concerned Residents, Virgill Gericke.
The pair got their parliamentary seats roughly a week after being announced as new members of the EFF.
Attention was focused on Mkhwebane because of her previous office and the mixed history she has with the EFF.
But who is Virgill Gericke and why did the EFF move him so quickly to Parliament?
Read more in Daily Maverick: Impeached Busisiwe Mkhwebane joins EFF ‘to protect the poor and marginalised’ (NB Not satire)
The little-known Gericke might be the EFF’s secret weapon as it plans to increase its support base in the Western Cape.
A recent Brenthurst Foundation poll suggests the EFF could take 17% nationally in the next year’s elections, while a poll released this week by the Social Research Foundation puts the party at just 9%.
The EFF has struggled to attract support in traditionally coloured areas and it’s believed that they hope that working with the PBI might change this.
Sending the founder of the party straight to the National Assembly sends a strong message to his followers and community.
While the PBI was established in a coloured community, it has grown and attracted black African voters in Garden Route communities.
Gericke was the founder of the PBI, which took part in municipal elections for the first time in 2011. He was a councillor in the George Municipality before he resigned to join the EFF.
The PBI holds eight council seats: five in the George Municipal Council, two in the Garden Route District Municipality and one in the Knysna Council.
Knysna’s deputy mayor is from the PBI, despite it having only one seat in the council.
Daily Maverick has been reliably informed that PBI will take directives from the EFF Western Cape, and a Facebook post by the EFF’s provincial leader Unathi Ntame suggests as much.
Ntame posted that Gericke was joining the party with thousands of PBI leaders, members and supporters.
Gericke confirmed that PBI will work with the EFF in the upcoming provincial and national elections.
“The PBI is an autonomous registered party,” he told Daily Maverick. “Its councillors will continue to serve its constituencies. The PBI will put its weight behind the EFF for the 2024 [national and provincial] elections.”
Gericke said the EFF was the only party with the willingness, competency and vision to build a better future and prevent South Africa from collapsing.
“The PBI is currently in capable and competent hands. My wife and I are satisfied that the party that we built with sweat and blood will serve the electorate with commitment and excellence.
“I believe that I have done more than enough, not only for the party [PBI] but for all communities. I have sacrificed … and served fearlessly in order to bring about a better society.”
PBI spokesperson Jerome Petersen said thorough consultation had taken place in their structures regarding the departure of Gericke.
“The party structures unanimously bestowed their blessing on him,” Petersen said.
“The PBI is an independent party with its own Constitution and political agenda. We are working with the EFF and other progressive alliance parties in Knysna only.” DM