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Tshepo Lebethe
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Ready for a white president?

03 January 2014, 17:29
Whether we like it or not, South Africa's political landscape is still very much racially polarized. The majority of people votes based according to colour of candidates (i.e., black people vote for black candidates, white people prefer white candidates).

It would be foolish to say race has nothing to do with how divided we are right now as a nation. I must say however this voting pattern appears to be changing, albeit slowly.

The answer to the question above should strictly speaking not be asked as it really should not matter if the president is white or black, but given the relatively short history of this country and the current political landscape, it ought to be asked.
The quick answer, to the majority of black people, is that "no, SA is not ready for a white president". Just look at the voting figures for the past elections. ANC, despite it's bad track record, still maintains a significant lead over other political parties.

The opposition party with the best chance of defeating the ANC is 
undoubtedly Helen Zille's Democratic Alliance (DA). Unfortunately for the DA, despite their excellent track record in the Western Cape and their sound policies, they do not have a "Barack Obama" in their ranks. That is, they do not have a black person (woman/man) who can appeal to the majority of black voters. There is Lindiwe Mazibuko, but while she is a very good speaker, she doesn't have the "WOW" factor that can appeal to black voters. I have nothing bad to say about her but for you to win people's hearts you have to talk in the language they understand. Lindiwe fits the unfortunate stereotype, that she is a coconut and hence poor black people can't relate to her.

That leaves Helen Zille. A feisty, educated, outspoken leader of the DA. I have no doubt Helen will do a great job as president. However she has one thing going against her. She is white. Despite her liberation credentials she is still viewed in the "apartheid eye", i.e., voting for a white person will bring back apartheid. Very sad because I don't think that will happen. So no, unless the DA gets a black person who appeals to the majority of black voters, they will not win the elections anytime soon.

For black people, they will vote for a white president, if he listens, if he can at least speak one "black" language. If he can come to the townships, spend a few nights there and sleeps in the shacks. If he/she can make tangible progress each time they visit. If he can take care of the basics (water, electricity, employment, education).

For white people, they will vote for a black president if he is 
thoughtful and articulate. If male, he must not fit any of the stereotypes of the dangerous dark skinned black male that people see every day on television. He must be every white person's fantasy of what they'd like a black man to be.
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