It’s finally here. One more sleep until the election that’s being billed as a watershed event in the recent history of South African politics. But will it be?
Oh, it’s just a local government election, nothing as dramatic as the election of the first Black President in the USA, but it’s a very important event in the history of South African politics. Seventeen years of democratic [I’m not amenable to that word] elections has produced a pattern of voting that hasn’t changed all that much.
But tomorrow, will South Africans vote with maturity for the first time, or will they continue to vote emotionally along narrow racial and egotistical lines like they’ve always done in the history of voting in this country?
The two main contenders up for elections are the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the African National Congress (ANC). The hundreds [yes, democracy tends to become farcical] of other parties and independent candidates vying for contention will get a small percentage of the vote, but will become irrelevant in the larger scale of things. But they’re important nonetheless, catering for either refined thinkers on the one hand and self-seeking interests on the other.
The DA and the ANC have both conducted intensive election campaigns in the run up to this elections. While both had their unsavory moments, one in particular conducted a particularly nasty campaign that set new standards of low for electioneering, in this country at least.
The ANC being the dominant party continued to make the same promises which they have been making for the last 17 years and broken repeatedly. Their campaign featured elements of the bizarre on far too many occasions – contending that a vote for the ANC was a guarantee of a ticket to heaven, and pandering to the superstitious inclinations of the older generation of the vast Black population by stating quite falsely that their deceased elders would be angered if the ANC was not favored in the election. These were among the more despicable acts perpetrated during their increasingly desperate campaign. The ANC campaign was also noteworthy for the manner in which it manipulated emotions and entrenched racial divisions in the country. In short, the ANC did a remarkable job of promoting themselves, at the expense of the country as a whole.
The DA campaign on the other hand, while not standing out as a shining beacon for morality and potential good governance, was at least realistic and concentrated on what local elections are all about – service delivery. They did not stoop to the abominable depths of using religion and culture to gift-wrap their campaign; instead they focussed on highlighting their successes at local municipalities where they were in control. The important thing for me was that they were convincing about their concern for the future of the country.
And that is where the ANC failed dismally. They merely managed to convince me that they were more concerned about protecting their own self-serving interests by retaining power both nationally and locally. Anyone who actually bothers to analyse performance and can see through the myriad deceptions that politicians routinely employ, will realise that the ANC does not deserve to be trusted with a vote of confidence.
For this reason, I will not vote for them tomorrow, but will trust the DA to prove that they deserve a chance at local government.