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Mark Whelan
 
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Who to vote for?

04 May 2014, 21:00

It is no longer possible to vote from a moral point of view, or from the heart. Politicians are secular. So they should be. With a few notable exceptions around the world, church and state (or temple, mosque and so forth) are separated. Religious and spiritual leaders are left to serve their people, or followers as moral arbiters towards the politicians elected to serve a nations' people.

But, in many places in the world, this does not happen, and people, like myself, are forced to make difficult, but pragmatic decisions when finally casting that crucial vote. We vote for a party which may serve our needs and purposes, but more importantly, the needs and purposes of our communities.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu with South Africa's first Democratically elected State President the late Nelson R Mandela

Choices in South Africa have become more difficult purely because politicians have ignored the council of those chosen to offer guidance, and, more seriously, have elected to ignore mandates set by those who voted them into power in the first place.

Let us leave it at that for now, and consider the choices we are forced to make, even if it does not fit our neighbourhood, picture perfectly. There are many party candidates who are led by charismatic men and women who either have, or do not have track records of governance or service to communities. I can only mention a few of the contenders here.

AFRICAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY

In the Western Cape, the ACDP, led from the front by Grant Haskins, has served the province well in the spirit of exercising democracy in both City Council and Provincial Parliamentary chambers.

It has acted well as a moral compass, not to keep the ruling DA in check, but rather its opposition party, the ANC. It may seem unusual, but it is good and well.

Currently, the unaccounted ten billion rand wasted on consultancy fees are being investigated. While it is being debated, the ANC, under the leadership of Marius Fransman, denies all wrong-doing in spite of the fact that it presided over this gross wastage of tax and rate-payers' money before the DA wrested power from them in the last election in 2009.

The ACDP, however, does not represent the rights of all people, a multi-cultural  and multi-religious one at that. One critical point in their manifesto is a biased and loud call for the death penalty to curb the province's high crime rate. Elsewhere, particularly in the USA's state of Texas, it has been proved to be an ineffective deterrent to crimes of murder, and worse. It also ignores the vital commandment of the Christian Bible on which it bases its manifesto; Thou shalt not kill. And the teachings of Christ in which He states, quite clearly, that God will be the judge.

Predicted poll: 0% of the vote.

AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS

Nationally, this has been the ruling party since the advent of democracy in South Africa.

It has presided over wide-ranging programmes of delivery towards those who were previously denied by apartheid. It can also be credited with a growing (black) middle class. Progress has been made under the ANC's rule.

It is currently led, however, by Jacob Zuma, who has presided over a rapid decline in service delivery, particularly towards those who need it most, rampant corruption, incompetence and devious manipulation of the racist policy of so-called Black Economic Empowerment. Instead of taking concrete and decisive steps to curb all of this, and more, it denies responsibility and blames apartheid for all of the country's current social and economic woes.

Predicted poll: 56%

AGANG SA

It delivers a new message of hope.

Its party name translates directly to "Let Us Build South Africa." It is the one minority party that I felt an urge to learn more about as a voter. I spent some time last year asking it to explain its manifesto and proposals to me as a potential voter. It has, to date, not been able to do so, or ignored my queries.

Dr Mamphela Ramphele with her former partner, the late Steve Biko

Nevertheless, its party manifesto is very similar to that of the DA. That may be one of the reasons why its leader, Dr Mamphela Ramphele decided to join forces with the country' second largest party as its presidential candidate. The merger turned sour within a week, and its leader lost much of her credibility owing mostly to her undemocratic action, without first consulting her party officials, who still, to this day, do not seem any the wiser on how to build South Africa.

Predicted poll: 0%

CONGRESS OF THE PEOPLE

It is a splinter movement which was led by former United Democratic Movement stalwart Mosiua Lekota in protest to the ANC's democratic (?) election of Jacob Zuma.

In the last general election, it did well as a new party, but did little or nothing to show the electorate that it was a credible alternative to the ruling party.

Mosiua Lekota with Mandela

Mosiua Lekota's earlier roles in former president Thabo Mbeki's cabinet is also under continuous scrutiny and one is always left wondering whether he can deliver in, or outside of government. He has presided over the once-strong South African defence force's crippling decline.

Predicted poll: 3%

DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE

Its self-proclaimed fame is that it has, under the leadership of its leader Helen Zille, presided over the most effective provincial government, governing the Western Cape, for the last 5 years.

It has also made great strides in safeguarding the country's liberal constitution and appears to understand its laws well.

Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, in discussion with Cape Town Metro Police officers on the Cape Flats

But, it has its hands full if voters give this party the benefit of the doubt by granting it another 5 years of provincial government. It will have to contend with a continuing and rapid migration of South Africans and non-South Africans from other regions on the grounds of ethnicity, economics and seeking political asylum.

Predicted poll: 27%

ECONOMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS

It is the most controversial and feared party (amongst its opponents and on ethnic and economic grounds - as its party name clearly states).

It promises nationalisation of all the country's commercial and natural resources to the benefit of the mostly poor South Africans towards which it peddles.

Julius Malema in council with Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe

Its Commander in Chief, Julius Malema, was found guilty of hate speech in a court of law and banned from the ruling ANC for his antagonistic utterances against its president, Jacob Zuma (and not for hate speech). He vociferously mentions leaders such as the late Hugo Chavez and Muamar Qadhafi, the elderly Robert Mugabe and North Korea's very young dictator from which he draws his inspiration.

Predicted poll: 12%

FREEDOM FRONT PLUS

It claims to represent the interests of minority groups in South Africa, as enshrined in the South African Constitution, and as all political parties should be doing. It works well with the unions Solidarity and Afriforum.

Unfortunately, it carries with it the baggage of apartheid with its two leaders, the brothers Mulder, being the sons of the late apartheid minister, Connie Mulder, who is remembered for his role in the infamous Information scandal which led to then prime minister, John Vorster's resignation.

Predicted poll: 0%

INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY

The once-strong challenger to the ANC can best be remembered for its proposal for a federal South African state, modelled on those of the USA, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Australia and others. It reneged on that proposal after the country's elder statesman, Nelson Mandela, persuaded its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, to take part in the country's first democratic elections.

Inkosi Buthelezi with Madiba

Today, the ageing Buthelezi and his party is a shadow of its former self, unable to offer a workable solution to the country's many social, ethnic, political and economic problems which could very well have been curbed if it opted for the federal plan, rather than the Sunset Clause proposed by former SA Communist Party leader, Joe Slovo.

Predicted poll: 0%

NATIONAL FREEDOM PARTY

It is a breakaway movement, and it borrows its name ambitiously from its parent party, the IFP, disillusionment with that party's leadership seeming to be the main reason for such a breakaway.

It has made few inroads to the province, KwaZulu Natal via municipal by-elections, forgetting that this province is home to the country's president and Zuma's stronghold.

While following the mantra of most opposition parties, that of voicing opposition to corruption and lamenting the lack of service delivery by the ruling party, an air of corruption allegations hangs over its head. These allegations have yet to be proved, but have been made by Buthelezi and his IFP.

Predicted poll: 0%

PAN AFRICAN CONGRESS

The only good thing I can find to say about this party is that it was the party founded by Robert Sobukwe and the party that led its people in peaceful protest against the apartheid law requiring black South Africans to carry pass books.

It ended tragically with the Sharpeville massacre.

There is no leadership or unity to speak of in the PAC today. It prompted Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille to end her membership of this party and form her own Independent Democrats which did quite well in the 2004 elections only to dissolve itself into the structures of the larger DA.

Predicted poll: 0%

PATRIOTIC ALLIANCE

Gayton Mckenzie is the leader of this party.

Before this party's formation he had been for several years a Christian pastor, ministering to gangsters. He is an ex-gangster himself.

A foolish strategy to bring convicted drug lord, Rashied Staggie to the party's table as a member backfired and led to the notorious gangster's parole being rescinded.

Predicted poll: 0%

UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

Major General Bantu Holomisa served as military ruler of the dismantled apartheid state, Transkei, home to most of the country's indigenous Xhosa's.

At the dawn of democracy he went on to serve in Nelson Mandela's cabinet, but was an early whistle-blower against the growing corruption and party patronage now a staple of the ruling ANC.

Major General Holomisa with Mandela

His breakaway party had some success in earlier elections with former National Party minister and chief CODESA negotiator, Roelf Meyer at his side. Other than his historical legacy, like that of the IFP's Buthelezi, I cannot find anything bad or negative to say about him and his party! In recent times, he was the first of a few politicians to rush to Marikana in support of the slain miners and their families. To date, he is still a rallying force for the miners, but stops short of making empty promises for them at this election.

Predicted poll: 2%

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