‘Significant’ elections have no date

2009-02-07 00:00

South Africa’s not-so-young democracy heads for its fourth general elections which are expected to take place within the next nine weeks. These elections have been dubbed the “most significant elections” since the country’s first democratic elections in April 1994.

Significant? How so? Is it because the country will have a fourth black president after Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe?

Could it be because the fourth breakaway party from the ruling African National Congress, the Congress of the People (Cope), will contest the elections after the Pan Africanist Congress, the Inkatha Freedom Party and the United Democratic Movement? I am yet to understand the significance of these elections. Aren’t all elections significant?

Could it be because the South African Communist Party’s Blade Nzimande will form part of the cabinet? It could be, as the late Joe Slovo formed part of the first cabinet in 1994.

It could be because these elections are significant to all opposition political parties and not just the ANC. I say this as Motlanthe has not yet announced the date for the elections and we are already within nine weeks of the date. The ANC has always played games when it comes to announcing the election date as it makes considerations only within the party and not on a national stage.

We could learn from the United States where the elections have been held on January 20 every four years for more than a century.

It’s an open secret that the ANC has delayed announcing the date because it is busy trying to come up with strategies to prevent other parties, especially Cope, from stealing “its” votes.

We cannot be held to ransom by the ruling party and more democratic practices need to be adopted if the functioning of the government is to be consistent.

Double standards are not democratic by their very nature. The ANC has been complaining about members of the IFP preventing it from electioneering freely in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Could this be the same ANC that has been intimidating members and supporters of Cope in other parts of the same province and the country?

The IFP gave the ANC a taste of its own medicine, although I am not condoning the actions of IFP members. All violence should be denounced, regardless of the context.

Again, it could be because the ANC will sweep just about all the election stakes at the elections, if Motlanthe finally decides to announce when these will take place.

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