Khaya Dlanga

The ANC doesn't have the guts to do what the DA did

2015-05-13 10:45

Khaya Dlanga

Congratulations to Mmusi Maimane on winning the race for the leadership of the Democratic Alliance.

Let us not forget the outgoing leader, Helen Zille, who managed to grow the DA to unprecedented levels. She will no doubt remain an extremely powerful figure behind the scenes. Anyone who denies the impact she has had is playing games. Yes, she has been confrontational, aggressive, forceful and at times said things she should not have said but we simply cannot deny the role she played.

Zille has had the greatest impact in opposition politics since our democracy. Her party is the only one that has grown in support since democracy, bar the ANC whose support also saw great growth under the leadership of Thabo Mbeki, where the party almost achieved 70% of the electorate.

Maimane has his work cut out for him. He is a young man, which is a great benefit for the party because he will be more relatable to the vast majority of South Africa. Whether the policies of the party he leads will be relatable to is another matter all together.  

The genius of this move by the DA is that it has been brave enough to do what we know the ANC won’t be brave enough to do; and that is to elect a young person to the position of the presidency of the ANC in 2017. The ANC needs to. The ANC knows this. Yet the ANC won’t do it. The DA has recognised the demands and needs of a young electorate and has responded to it. The ANC on the other hand will work according to turns. The DA has seen the future and has responded to it. The ANC sees the future but will instead stick to tradition. My hope against hope is that the ANC chooses pragmatism over tradition.

The EFF too is a party with young leaders. Yes, they cause chaos in the chambers but they are young men and women. These two opposition parties with young leaders have made an impact, and people are talking about them.

As Oscar Wilde put it, “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” The ANC needs to be talked about in the right way by the right people, and that is the electorate that is considering these parties that are being led by two young people.

Maimane will undoubtedly have an impact for some time to come. Whether people hate him or love him, they will still talk about him. He has a massive task ahead of him and will need all the support he can get. He will either be made more mature by the experiences he will have or he will become more aggressive and defensive as he tries to prove that he is what he says he is, not what he is painted to be.

Maimane has quite a hill to climb. He faces black doubt and white doubt and even those who pretend that they don't doubt him. He is in a tough and unenviable position, one of course of his own choosing. He took the crown, now he must sit with it, no matter how heavy it is.

One of the doubts and questions some have is whether Maimane will be the real power behind the throne or whether there would be someone else behind wielding power behind it. Someone like Zille perhaps - much like Cercei Lannister, the mother of the young king, in Game of Thrones.

Is Maimane his own man, or is he someone who will try to convince us, unconvincingly, that he truly is his own man? For him to convince us that he is his own man, he will have to overhaul some DA policy positions that are seen to be anti-black.

The task of the ANC now is to be as brave as the DA has been so that we can see that the future of the party is bright and strong. At the moment, according to a recent study, only a quarter of all youth are happy with where the country is going, but 69% still believe they will have a better future than their parents. What does that mean? It means that the ANC needs to look at the needs of these young people and talk to them and not at them. Only leaders who can relate to them can achieve this.

- Follow Khaya on Twitter.

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Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  mmusi maimane

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