PA's McKenzie apologises to supporters over birthday bash flop

27 November 2023 - 19:50
By Sisanda Mbolekwa
Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie. File image: Alaister Russell
Image: Alaister Russell Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie. File image: Alaister Russell

Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie has apologised to supporters after his party's 10th anniversary celebrations fell flat at the weekend.

McKenzie, who sought to fill Orlando stadium in Soweto to mark the event, was met with scores of disgruntled supporters who walked out, leaving empty seats. 

He was sad but understood the anger and disappointment.

“We have had 20,000 people enter the stadium [according to the City of Johannesburg], but because of food, drink and logistics [problems] they left to go get food, they were prevented to return to the stadium.

“People are stranded in buses on the road, people are sitting in buses on the highways waiting for mechanics. I am not blaming anyone, I’m taking full responsibility. I have let most of you down terribly.”

McKenzie said he was not looking for sympathy but promised to “fix the mess”.

“Many lessons were learnt. We got more wrong than what we got right. The birthday cannot be what we did, we will have our real birthday party within 90 days. I have nothing but gratitude for those who stood and braved the hunger and heat”.

The former Central Karoo mayor said his national executive committee took responsibility for the organisational shortcomings.

“I have no words, I only have tears of gratitude. I have never asked you for much. I am asking you to give us a chance to fix this mess, we should not be arrogant, we should be humble, the NEC takes full responsibility.

“We will make it up. I hear some are leaving the party. I understand and apologise. I wish you well and we should have done better. Also to the people of Mpumalanga, the company that did the bus hiring on our behalf were scammed and lost all our money but have agreed to pay us back. We care about the disappointment more than money lost.”

Deputy leader Kenny Kunene said the party was sabotaged.

“Our bus services were called by other politicians and threatened not to ferry people to a rally of the Patriotic Alliance or else they will be dealt with. We had to arrange other means of public transport, organise taxis.” 

Kunene says this resulted in a delay of the programme.

“The time to address people had to be extended because a lot of our members could not be there. Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and [some] other provinces could not make it. Other provinces could not bring the numbers they promised.”

“We did not advertise our event the way parties advertise their events. All 21,000-plus people who were in the stadium are members of the party, and a few came to listen and join on the day.

On allegations that some minibus taxis were shot at, he said: “It could be opposition political parties. There would be elements in other parties who would not want the PA to fill a stadium because if we do so it embarrasses them. There are also those who didn't want this to happen because it would show the support the party has.”