White woman's first vote is for EFF

21 April 2019 - 00:00 By JEFF WICKS
Bianca-Lee Grossett joined the EFF earlier this year and will be voting for the first time in her life on May 8.
Bianca-Lee Grossett joined the EFF earlier this year and will be voting for the first time in her life on May 8.
Image: Masi Losi

Mother and housewife Bianca-Lee Grossett, 39, has traded her sheltered life of white privilege for a red EFF beret, challenging race politics in conservative Krugersdorp.

Grossett was persuaded to join the party because of the plight of shack dwellers near her home. The people had been moved in December from their settlement into her farming community. She believes she is now an outcast among the white people of the area.

"The first time I put a picture of myself on Twitter in my beret it went viral and the comments on that thread were my first experiences with racism," she told the Sunday Times.

"I was excited and happy about what I was doing, and the people who responded were vile. White Afrikaans men laid into me."

Grossett said: "The first time I was attacked online I was terrified, and I took it personally.

"As it got more common I began to realise that those comments are a direct representation of society.

"It shows how scared people are of what's coming."

Grossett owns a horse-riding school and a smallholding with a view of a wetland and a new shack settlement.

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She said joining the EFF was something she had to do.

The settlement holds nearly 1,000 people who were evicted from another township.

"They became my friends and my community and actually changed my life. With everything that I have here, my land, my business and my possessions, I'm still powerless to help those people."

She approached other political parties, but nothing was done, she said.

"Three days after I walked into the EFF's Randburg offices, the matter was raised in the legislature."

She said she had never voted before.

"I had never even registered to vote. I think it was never necessary for me because there is a privilege, and in my past, and in my skin colour, and because of that I have never needed to bring about change with a cross on a piece of paper."

After an unsuccessful by-election campaign as a ward councillor last month, Grossett will vote for the EFF on May 8.

She was beaten in the by-election by the DA and the Freedom Front Plus.

She said trying to help the shack dwellers, and her venture into politics, had opened her eyes to racial inequality.

"Equality became a big lesson in this whole thing. The idea I had about equality was completely misplaced and that needs to change if we are going to change SA for the better."

Political analyst Molifi Tshabalala said that unlike Black First Land First, the EFF was not anti-white.

"Rather it seeks to extricate the black majority out of poverty. There are, of course, some among the whites, especially the poor, who do support certain aspects of its policies.

"However … the EFF focuses on the blacks with whom the political power lies," he said.

Grossett said white South Africans lacked a sense of community and remained blissfully ignorant about burgeoning discontent.

"We're quite happy to bitch and moan but very rarely will we stand up."

EFF Gauteng chair Mandisa Mashego said she had recruited Grossett and described her as a "valuable activist".

Attempts to contact party spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and secretary-general Godrich Gardee were unsuccessful.