“They don’t care about us”: Parties don’t pitch for LGBTI election meeting

Dr Nonhlanhla Hlongwane (IEC), Jacquiline Mseleku-Khanyile (Moderator), Anthony Waldhausen Martin Meyer and Gugu Memela (IEC)

Dr Nonhlanhla Hlongwane (IEC), Jacquiline Mseleku-Khanyile (Moderator), Anthony Waldhausen Martin Meyer and Gugu Memela (IEC)

Only one of the four political parties that confirmed their attendance at an LGBTI local election event in Pietermaritzburg bothered to arrive.

The meeting, hosted by the Gay & Lesbian Network, aimed to provide an opportunity for the LGBTI community to engage with the major parties on issues of concern to them with regard to local governance, service delivery issues and hate crimes.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was also invited to provide an overview of the election processes and voter education ahead of the elections on 3 August.

According to Gay & Lesbian Network Director Anthony Waldhausen, the ANC, DA, IFP and EFF confirmed that they would take part.

While the IFP did not say who would represent the party, Mzi Zuma was to speak for the ANC, Martin Meyer for the DA, and Vusi Khoza for the EFF.

The only representative who actually arrived for the event, however, was DA eThekwini Councillor Martin Meyer. Shamefully, none of the others made the effort to inform the organisers that they weren’t coming or to even apologise.

“The level of civil unrest in the country is unsurprising given the failure to engage with the electorate when suitable platforms are provided prior to the elections,” said Waldhausen in a statement.

“It would therefore seem that the DA is the only party willing to engage with the LGBTI electorate ahead of the local government elections.”

Waldhausen told Mambaonline that he had sent official e-mail invitations to the parties, as well as a hand delivered invitation to the IFP’s local councillor, who doesn’t have an e-mail address.

“I phoned them all as well and they all confirmed. I even went as far as phoning them on the day of the event and sent out SMSs to remind them. There was no excuse for them not to attend. What more could one do?” he asked.

“I don’t think they are interested at all [in the LGBTI community]. I don’t think they care about us,” Waldhausen added.

At the meeting, Meyer, who is openly gay, outlined the DA’s election manifesto. He went on to list DA MPs in Parliament who are proudly members of the LGBTI community.

Meyer also expressed his party’s support for LGBTI equality and to combat the scourge of hate crimes in South Africa.

Waldhausen said that despite the snub, his organisation will “keep attempting to engage various political parties throughout the year” and had extended an invitation for them to take part in the Pink Mynah LGBTI Festival Street Parade in Pietermaritzburg on 28 October.

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