Unconditional black ANC voters do not regard the party as corrupt, only certain individuals, while white South Africans are tempted to vote for Cyril Ramaphosa, but perhaps for the wrong reasons, writes Solly Moeng.
The only time South Africa wasn’t governed by the African National Congress (ANC) it was a truly harsh and inhumane place to be for black South Africans. The memories and pains of that time remain engraved in the minds of many of us and, sadly, for others, they make it hard for them to leave the past behind and to embrace the future.
As a result, we all stand to lose a potentially sunny tomorrow because of those who cling for dear life to the pain of our sad yesterday, as if it keeps their anger current.
Nevertheless, it is understandable, but only to an extent, that many consider the contemporary challenges facing our country to be nothing – almost like a necessary pain – compared to the harsh realities of yesterday. To them, the ANC, which served as one of the leading players in the fight to end apartheid and during the negotiated transition from apartheid to the new dispensation, is the only political formation they trust to lead South Africa into the future.
But the original ANC was established by men and women of substance – history has shown – who were prepared to sacrifice self in order to help realise the general good of building a South Africa first described in the Freedom Charter, then in our current Constitution, wherein all who live in it would belong, equally, irrespective of racial, ethnic, religious and gender identity backgrounds.
For many black South Africans, it is individual men and women who have gone astray and done wrong in recent years, not the party. Accordingly, the party remains pure and will, in its own time and in its own manner, self-correct and spit out those who have brought its name into disrepute.
To such seemingly unconditional ANC supporters, the names Zuma, Gigaba, Mantashe, Magashule, Dlamini, Brown, Mokonyane, Mbalula, Muthambi, Zwane and many others who must still be processed by our criminal justice system, will come and go; the party is here to stay.
In any case, they argue further to justify their stance, none of the people implicated in state capture and other forms of gross corruption have been found guilty by a court of law.
This stance irrespective of the fact that state capture also involved the purposeful weakening and repurposing of crucial upstream and midstream parts of the criminal justice system; the SAPS, the Hawks and the NPA, and rendered them totally incapable, afraid, or both, to arrest, charge, and prosecute politically connected criminals who still prance about as if they have not been involved in acts that – in another country – would be deemed treasonous because of their lasting negative impact on the functioning of the country’s key institutions and its global image.
They adamantly refuse to connect the dotted lines between the crimes committed by leaders of the ANC – often in the name of the ANC – the inability of state institutions to deliver services to the people of South Africa, and the eroding tax base due to many high earners and business owners leaving the country for other parts of the world.
Those who leave often cite the fear of possible racial attacks on them, frustration at not being able to see a future for their children in South Africa because of the harshness and discriminatory nature of BEE and Affirmative Action policies as they stand, or simply a refusal to hand over their hard earned money in the form of taxes to a government they consider to either be incompetent to manage those taxes for the benefit of all citizens or one that is run by thieves who have proven to be adept at diverting state funds to benefit private interests and getting away with impunity.
The fact that no one, including suspected criminals serving in the Cabinet, has been arrested and charged, prosecuted and convicted, also leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many hardworking and law-abiding citizens.
Irrespective of everything that has happened in recent years, and despite the frustration expressed in safe company, many blacks will vote for the ANC because no other party has done for them what the governing party has when it held their hands and helped them cross over from the harsh realities of apartheid into a new democratic order that also came with many freedoms and human dignity denied to them during apartheid and – others will go even further into history – colonialism.
Many white South Africans claiming to be disappointed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) for a variety of reasons find themselves stuck with an electoral choice between President Cyril Ramaphosa (not the ANC), on one hand, and the Julius Malema-led Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Andile Mngxitama-led Black First Land First (BLF), on the other hand. They’re in no doubt that the ANC still stands for all the wrongs that have happened to South Africa in recent years but, in their mind, it is a separate electoral entity to President Ramaphosa, who must be supported.
To them, Ramaphosa stands for good, a possible renewal and recovery for South Africa (not for the ANC). In their minds, voting for him will strengthen his hand in getting rid of the criminal suspects he is unable to remove from the ANC’s leadership structures and from his Cabinet, despite the established tradition that Cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the president and can be removed when necessary, especially if they fail to conduct themselves within the rule of law and to uphold the founding values of our Constitution.
It is a hard place to be, firstly because no one votes for individuals in our current dispensation. It is also hard to understand how an imaginary vote, even for a possibly deserving politician, could strengthen that individual and not the party he represents, which would be the actual recipient of the said vote.
It doesn’t seem to cross anyone’s mind that an electorally strengthened ANC would easily turn around, after being strengthened, to do what political parties do, i.e. attribute the electoral strengthening to approval by the electorate of the path it has been travelling to date and that is has promised to travel. It is hard to imagine how, strengthened to keep on going on, the ANC would get the message that something has to change if South Africa is to avoid falling into a dark socio-economic and political precipice from which it would take years, if ever, to come out.
If they truly love their country, it is time that South Africans, black and white, learned how to vote like chess players faced with a power board that desperately needs rebalancing; and stop voting like worshippers in search for love in all the wrong places.