As 2018 draws to an end and 2019 begins to appear in the no-longer-so-far horizon, many South Africans are wondering what will happen when President Cyril Ramaphosa finally announces the date for the next general elections.
Indications are that they will happen within the next eight months. The clock is ticking louder by the day, but the ballot box choices seem grim, as all discussions are limited to the devils (parties) we know – which is normal, of course – none of which seem to offer attractive prospects in the form of new people with new ideas.
South Africa needs a political formation that, by its original composition, set of values and plan of action, can never successfully be accused of being Black, White, Coloured, or Indian. It must simply be South African, and be accountable only to citizen constituencies instead of political bosses, as is the case with existing parties; all of them.
It must also be a party whose constitution will mirror the ideals enshrined in the Constitution of our Republic, and that will place the country’s interests ahead of its own.
From where I sit, this doesn’t seem impossible; I just wonder why it hasn’t been done before.
Unless new political options get added to the 2019 ballot paper, South African voters will be constrained to trying to choose the least from the current list of the “devils we know”.
Were that to be the case, people should expect very little excitement, as existing parties have repeatedly demonstrated their inability to free themselves from the yoke of their own past – often self-inflicted wounds – and to propose new ideas for the people of South Africa.
Their repeated recycling of the overused faces over and over again – especially the governing ANC – with the strange hope that such faces would bring new, untested, solutions to the challenges facing contemporary South Africa – has become all too nauseating. And that is the kindest way I can say this.
Increasingly, the voracity with which the Democratic Alliance seems to be eating itself from within is staggering. The number of internal feuds for position and influence, added to accusations of racism and other forms of underhandedness, resignations, badly explained removals of people from leadership positions, do a lot of harm to an image this party had carefully managed to nurture until fairly recently.
The days when the DA could only be accused of being a racist party only concerned about the rights and comforts of white people – even when such an accusation couldn’t always be corroborated with facts – are fast becoming a thing of the past.
More recently, other things are being added to the list of accusations against the DA. And this party should be worried because most of the newer accusations against it take away its claimed exceptionalism and make it look just like the others, especially the governing ANC.
Now, one hears increasing numbers of current DA supporters declaring to no longer have a political home, as their DA has become “just like the others”.
What is it that the DA is not telling us about the outgoing – or not – Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille; and what is Patricia De Lille not telling us about what went on in the DA over the past few years?
This Zumaesque “I will not go down on my own” air in the Cape Town corridors of power is truly confusing.
And what is going in Tshwane that we’re not being told? Why do we see senor city leaders running to the courts (at whose expense?) to prevent reports from being tabled for discussion? What are these allegations that city officials who refused to approve GladAfrica invoices were threatened and victimised?
Where are the interests of South Africans? Can they go home at night and sleep peacefully trusting that the DA would never do to their public funds what the ANC has repeatedly been accused of doing, i.e. channelling them in all directions they were not meant to go?
This formerly “glorious” liberation movement, which so many gave their lives and freedom to serve under, and which so many more blindly placed their trust in – believing it would always act in their interest – lost its soul many years ago.
Going by the kind of individuals voting members of this party have been placing into positions of huge influence, over the past decade at the least, it will require a miracle for it to be saved from itself.
It will also require for it to lose power. It is hard to imagine how this party can handle two huge tasks simultaneously: running a complex, modern, African democracy; while also trying to locate its lost soul.
Replacing one set of leaders – well, more or less – with a new one will not do the trick either, as the old structures and processes that have made abuse possible still continue to exist untouched. The problems are systemic.
A small group of people in the current leadership might have all the good intentions to rid the party and, by extension, our Republic, of the rotten apples, but they seem unlikely to succeed. They are massively outnumbered.
Seriously influential leadership positions in the party are being occupied by all the wrong people, duly elected at its all-important and sacrosanct elective conference, and are unlikely to be dislodged before the next such conference.
Until then, they will walk the corridors of their own party headquarters and those of government, constantly looking over their shoulders to make sure the good guys do not throw them under the legal bus. They have a lot to lose, and they have to hide from us.
With Jacob Zuma gone and the tables turned on the “pay back the money” chant, added to its increasingly discredited racist rhetoric, the EFF seems destined to be a party of the emotional, the angry and the painfully narrow-minded: those who believe that there is still room for the silly and short-sighted notion of “winner takes all” in modern politics.
It has proven over and over again that it will not be the party to unite all South Africans around the values enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
With all other existing parties either too small to have material impact on weighty issues of national importance, or too structured around the person or people in leadership, South Africans should be asking themselves if it is time to start a different movement. One that will not come with too many things to hide, or to fear; and one that will unite them across all historic divides, to continue the journey of building a true home for all.
If not now, when?
If not current voters, whom?