News / South Africa / Politics
He’s soft-spoken, kind and radiates an infectious passion for what he does for a living.
The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) federal campaign manager, Greg Krumbock, is a party stalwart and has overseen powerful election efforts such as former leader Tony Leon’s controversial Fight Back campaign at the turn of the century’s national poll, the For All the People municipal election follow-up and countless by-elections.
He returned to the role this year to help the party claw back 2019 election losses and return it to a growth trajectory.
After years serving South Africa as an MP, Krumbock realised a 20-year ambition in the recent local government elections.
He helped clinch the council in his own neighbourhood, the Umngeni municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, where the DA won by 42 votes and dynamic Chris Pappas will be mayor.
“It has been a lifelong journey for me and a lifelong ambition,” said Krumbock.
“You can just imagine what I’m feeling right now.
“When we started two decades ago, we were on 21% of the vote and now, we’re on 50%. I am very, very pleased that we have a footprint in KZN where we can show the rest of the province that we can beat the ANC on its own turf.”
It was no overnight love story. Krumbock says relentless campaigning finally bore fruit.
“We didn’t just engage with the community at election time,” he says.
“We focused on building as many communication channels as possible, using social media, instant messaging groups on WhatsApp, a newsletter and visits to make our presence felt consistently.”
In addition, he says, there were a multitude of charitable efforts to assist in alleviating the plight of the poorest in the community and outreach programmes.
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“Minorities only make up 29% of the electorate and the balance has been very ANC-loyal. But we managed to make significant inroads by showing people that we are trustworthy and caring.”
Slowly, the hard work paid off. In 2004, the DA was able to bank 21% of the vote, in 2006 it grew to 33%, by 2011 it climbed to 38% and at the end of the 2016 municipal elections, Krumbock says a further 3% growth was achieved.
“We always held out the idea that we were getting closer and closer and, finally, this year, we won.
“It’s all about hope and, so too, sharing the belief with the community that it is possible to win,” he says.
While it was a long game, his ambition and constant campaigning turned into success. Yet victory didn’t come without snags.
“Voting took forever and queues were long on election day,” says Krumbock.
“The [Electoral Commission of South Africa’s] systems failure and process delays saw many voters give up after spending an inordinate time lining up to cast their ballots.
“We were combing the queues at every voting station, asking people not to leave, to be patient and to exercise their democratic right.”
The KZN Midlands had so much going for it, says Krumbock.
“It’s a tourism paradise and there is so much potential for development. After all, Howick is the only town in the country where a waterfall is right in the centre of town.”
He says there is nothing more spectacular than snow on the mountains during winter. Krumbock believes the DA’smayor. along with a DA executive, can make a difference.
“Diversity happened naturally, too,” he says, “with women in senior leadership positions in the caucus, people of all colours and it all occurred through merit, not cadre deployment.”
He gets emotional when talking about the victory.
“This is a personal accomplishment for me, sure, but as a member of parliament, I couldn’t always be there. The credit goes to every single activist, party member and now councillor who slogged for so long to chip away and realise our collective ambition.
“I am just a cog in a much bigger wheel where we all believed we could do this.”