Khoisan chief camping at the Union Buildings, says smaller parties are the way to go


A Khoisan group who has been camping outside of the Union Buildings for almost five months called on all Khoi people to not vote for the ANC in the coming general elections. 

The group says the only support they have received from the governing party has come in the form of a towering Nelson Mandela statue, which provides shade.

Sitting in the middle of a makeshift kraal, surrounded by protest posters and worn tents, Chief Khoisan SA, who has been protesting since the end of November 2018, says he has become disillusioned with the ANC.

“If I had the chance to vote, I would vote against this government, for the mere fact that I have been here for so long and they have not attended to me,” Chief Khoisan said. 

“We have made a call when we went to the Western Cape, because the majority of our people are in the Western Cape and Northern Cape, so we made a call to those two provinces to not vote for the ANC government.”

Chief Khoisan called on Khoi people to vote for the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA), a smaller party, that shares the values and ideals of the Khoisan.

READ: There’s a Khoisan on Zuma’s stoep

Look at us as a case study

Chief Khoisan SA said he would not be able to vote as he is registered in the Eastern Cape, but urged the electorate to look at their situation when making a decision on who they would vote for.

“We will not be voting on the day, but what we have said to people who are voting, is to look at us as a case when they actually go and vote, because this is the reality of government. The reality is that the government will let people sit out for months not attending to their demands.”

He said the electorate should also not be fooled by promises made from a political party in electioneering mode.

READ MORE: Khoisan will continue to camp outside Union Buildings until their demands are met

“I always use the phrase: ‘Jy moet eers kyk na jou eie huis.’ (you must always look at your own house). Now we are at their house, at the door steps of the Union Buildings. They are not looking at their own house affairs.”

“Now if the ANC government cannot look at the affairs of their house, how can they look at the affairs of every human being in South Africa that is depending on the government that should be caring for them?”

“My message to the ANC government would be that they have shown once again that they failed the people by making promises to the people and not fulfilling those promises.”

Observations from the Union Buildings

While many other Khoisan protesters have come and gone over the past months, Chief Khoisan SA has remained, insisting on leading the protest.

Spending months at the Union Buildings, enduring scorching heat and severe storms, Chief Khoisan SA says that he has been left with a myriad of thoughts, deduced from what he has observed while staying on the grounds of the official seat of government.

“I’ve been watching all the people coming to the Union Buildings to protest. This tells me that the ANC government has failed the people.”

ALSO READ: Khoisan leader says time for talking is over after ‘broken trust’ with Ramaphosa

His observations and the interaction he has had with other political parties visiting his kraal, has led him to believe smaller political parties will bring change.

“Smaller parties are the ones working on the ground, listening to the people. They exist because the ANC has done something wrong,” he said.


The demands of the Khoisan activists include:

•                the Khoisan people must be recognised as the first indigenous nation in South Africa;

•                the label “coloured” must be removed from all official papers as a reference to people of mixed colour, and be replaced with “Khoisan”;

•                Kwadi–Khoe must be listed as an official language in South Africa; and

•                the Khoisan must be given land and resources to continue their cultures and traditions.

Previous Khoisan protest

In 2017, Chief Khoisan SA and three others made a similar journey to the Union Buildings in an attempt to be recognised. Matters took a dangerous turn when the four of them embarked on a hunger strike that lasted close to a month.

News24 reported at the time that Chief Khoisan SA suffered extreme fatigue, malaise and that he lost 34kg.

Christian Martin, 37, who joined them at the Union Buildings, lost 26kg and suffered from hypoglycaemia as a result of malnourishment.

Government intervention

In December of 2017, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was deputy president at the time, received their list of demands and said he would meet with them again.

READ MORE: Presidency ‘still committed’ to addressing Khoisan concerns amid threats to declare independence

A year later, in December 2018, the Presidency issued a statement outlining his engagements with the Khoisan delegation, undertaken by senior officials.

The Presidency said that the group has been informed of a number of Parliamentary and other processes underway aimed at addressing some of their concerns, and urged the group to participate in these processes.

News24 has approached the presidency for an update on the demands made by the activists, which will be added once received.