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Bongani Mahlangu
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Who votes for the leadership and why?

08 January 2013, 14:01

Who elects leaders and why?

These two questions would be based on the assertions made by many people across the world about the integrity and the understanding of South African voters as to why they continue to vote for Zuma and the ANC.

The following was quoted from a Czech newspaper; “The danger to South Africa is not Jacob Zuma but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the Presidency. It will be far easier to limit and undo the follies of a Zuma presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Zuma, who is a mere symptom of what ails South Africa. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The Republic can survive a Jacob Zuma, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their President.”

Whether leadership is there or not, it seems like South Africans don't care much. Whether the person is clean, dirty, corrupt, a murderer or a psychopath they are just not bothered and they would vote that person in as their leader. And there are many instances of such including the one of a Black man voting for Eugene Terre'blanche's AWB to lead South Africa saying he loves them and loves their horses. Why would a Black person vote for a party that will enslave him and ensure that he is nothing on earth beats the hell out of me, yet we have these.

So back to those two questions, (1) Who elects leaders and (2) Why do they elect those leaders (capabilities).

1. The first part of who vote for leaders is separated into two. One being the voting in Country's election and the other in a political party. These are different in a way that people behave differently in them. In a country, you vote for a party that you would like to rule the country without much invested responsibilities and returns but hopes of getting good governance.

Then you have party leadership which acts differently on branch level than on regional to national level in a party. I will just touch on the regional to national. Who elects the leaders at regional to national? In every party that exists in SA, it is delegates that elect   leaders of their choice (even though they would be saying they represent their constituency). There is no definite proof that, unless the voting is seen by all, the delegate is voting as per the constituency and as such render the entire delegation process a flaw. Many delegates have vested interests in the leadership contest as some maybe lobbied, some bought, and some promised better positions or some other returns for voting in a particular candidate.

The quality and qualifications of a leadership candidate is irrelevant in most cases in most political parties including the ANC. Those standing for positions would lobby people to convince others, whether correctly or not, to get support so as to ascend to power without even giving out his/her potentials, skills and knowledge of the position. This is seen in many councilors and mayors of our towns. Do delegates care? Hell No! they don't as long as their candidate gets that position and everything else would sort itself out.

Why would Malema turn back on Zuma saying he is a bad president after he went around the country to convince people that Zuma was the best and he would die for him?

The system that the political party has invested in to select or elect its leaders is flawed and irrational with many consequences for the party and the nation as the whole. Political parties can no longer afford to rationalize the voting system where anyone tom, dick and harry can be their leaders and give delegates the overall powers to choose their leaders.

2.  Every voter and those who refuses to vote will tell you that it is their democratic right to do so But why are they voting? People generally believe in Magical thinking such that they believe things will change for the better if they put so and so in a position.

Generally, the person who speaks/question the most in a meeting would get a nod next to be a leader by that particular cluster of people but take a thinker and a philosopher and the same cluster would reject that person and have him/her labeled a betrayer of the 'noble' cause. Take Pallo Jordan for instance or Joel Netshitenzhe who are some of the country best thinkers but pushed so far back in the line of leadership. One needs to ask, why? Are we blinded by the fundamentalist illusion that the more talkative a person the more intelligent they are? If a person question strategies then that person would actually do better?

While the Magical Thinking might be one of the reasons for voting, with people carrying the hope of things getting better after their candidate won. To some they believe it is their civic duty/obligation to vote.

Both the Magical Thinking and civic duty carry people to the voting stations, it is still a mystery as to why people still vote the way they do, especially in South Africa where voters have not receive returns on the votes.

Why would people still vote for corrupt people, corrupt parties and inefficient leaders? Is it a case of Stockholm syndrome or capture-bonding, in which hostages express empathy, sympathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them?
Are we that gullible or leadership blind to just elect and vote blindly without thinking of the consequences of our actions?

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