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Gayton McKenzie and Patriotic Alliance prepare to be a “government-in-waiting”

Gayton McKenzie and Patriotic Alliance prepare to be a “government-in-waiting”
Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie at the party's 'Victory Rally' held at Athlone Stadium on 10 May 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

As parties gear up for votes in the run-up to the general elections, the Patriotic Alliance turned historic Athlone Stadium bright green in a ‘victory rally’ where the party reiterated its approaches to religion, the death penalty and the missing Joshlin Smith case.

Patriotic Alliance (PA) president Gayton McKenzie had the Athlone Stadium roaring with support as he spoke during the party’s ‘Victory Rally’ on Saturday. 

McKenzie is both the candidate for president and the Western Cape premier candidate. The party – which scored 6,660 votes (0.04%) in the 2019 elections – is looking to cement itself as a “government-in-waiting” through an outright majority or a coalition. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

The party’s supporters gathered at the stadium in Cape Town early in the morning to hear McKenzie speak. The reformed criminal turned businessman and politician has been garnering support across the country. Gospel artists performed as thousands filled the stadium. 

At the start, MC for the day, PA deputy president Kenny Kunene, introduced the party’s national executive. Then it was the turn of smaller regional parties who are contesting the elections, but have rather given their support to the PA. These include:

  • Advieskantoor, led by Leon Campher;
  • The Karoo Gemeenskap Party, led by Goliath Lottering;
  • The Karoo Democratic Force, led by Noël Constable;
  • The Oudtshoorn Gemeenskap Initiatief, led by Colin Sylvester; and
  • Witzenberg Aksie, led by Gert Laban.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Five parties join forces with Gayton McKenzie’s PA to take on DA in Western Cape

Another party leader who gave support was Plett Democratic Congress leader Claude Terblanche, mayor of the Bitou Municipality who recently told Daily Maverick the party had not yet endorsed another party but encouraged supporters to get up and vote. 

Just before 4pm it was McKenzie’s turn to be introduced to the waiting stadium. He arrived to applause and gospel music. 

PA McKenzie

Gayton McKenzie at the Patriotic Alliance’s rally held at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town on 10 May 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

McKenzie spoke for just under 50 minutes and repeated several points in the party’s manifesto, including:

  • South Africa needs God: reintroduction of prayers in schools and workplaces;
  • Sending young people for military service, because people should be ashamed that “our children are becoming welfare recipients” as they are unemployed and rely on the R35o social grant;
  • Returning the death penalty for murder – “my regime, if you kill somebody, you will also be killed”; and
  • If the party is in power on 1 June, all ‘illegal’ foreigners must go.

Joslin Smith case 

McKenzie also touched on the case of Joshlin Smith, who went missing from her home in Saldanha Bay in February. McKenzie has been accused of using the missing six-year-old as a political tool. “I want South Africans to know, there was no TV cameras. I was there every day to look for her,” he said. McKenzie claimed neither the ANC nor DA was looking for her immediately. “I’m asking you where were you when we looked for Joslin?” he asked, and was applauded when he said the party made Police Minister Bheki Cele come to Saldanha Bay and brought helicopters. 

McKenzie said that no matter how long, whether it was days, months or years, “we will find Joshlin Smith – that girl is alive”. 

Israel and Palestine

McKenzie also touched on the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The party is decidedly pro-Israel as a party that “Puts God First”, which caused disunity among the PA’s Muslim supporters. During the rally, McKenzie told the party’s Muslim supporters that “I want to apologise for what you are going through”, referring to how his party’s religious beliefs made them feel, by being unapologetically in support of Israel. 

He claimed the party’s Muslim members were being insulted, and asked the audience to clap for them. “This is your home,” he said. 

Read Ferial Haffajee’s breakdown of the PA manifesto here: Patriotic Alliance manifesto: (our) God first, others must stay out

McKenzie also claimed to have gone to a group of pro-Palestine supporters who were protesting outside the venue against the party’s support for the Israeli state. He claimed that, when he tried to speak to them, they swore at him. 

PA rally

Shirts were handed out to more than 20,000 supporters at the Patriotic Alliance ‘Victory Rally’ at Athlone Stadium on 10 May 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

McKenzie said that while he did not have the right to tell Muslims what to believe or to go against their holy book, “I will never do that and in the same breath, no Muslim must tell me to go against my Bible”. He claimed  his Bible said that if you curse Israel, you curse yourself. 

“I feel hurt when a Palestinian child dies. I feel hurt when an Israeli child dies,” said McKenzie, and asked: while moments of silence are being heard for children in the war, who will have a moment of silence for all the children who die on the Cape Flats and in Eldorado Park and Reiger Park? 

McKenzie said they were not against the Palestinians, “we are for South Africans and South Africans first”. 

Earlier in the day, Kunene told Daily Maverick the party’s next major stop would be a rally in Tshwane just before the elections, in a bid to show, “symbolically”, that the party was taking over the Union Buildings, the seat of government. DM


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