Friends & Friction: A merger of fossils destined to fail

2014-02-02 10:00

Business mergers and takeovers are almost always frowned upon.

When Walmart bought into Massmart, the barriers were set so high you would have thought the regulators were trying to prevent Cecil John Rhodes from recolonising Africa. Political party mergers do not undergo similar scrutiny because the politicians write the rules themselves.

Most mergers fail. Chrysler’s marriage to Mercedes-Benz fell apart. Now it has been taken over by Fiat. The Democratic Alliance is like Jacob Zuma, it loves to get married. Its first marriage was to the New National Party (NNP), but that failed, probably because Marthinus van Schalkwyk and Tony Leon couldn’t agree on who should wear the panties, and so the NNP pulled out of the alliance.

Patricia De Lille’s Independent Democrats became the second wife, and that seems to be working out. As the jazz song goes: “The girl has got to eat, and she should eat right.”

De Lille is eating well as mayor of Cape Town. If the DA wins this election, then wife number three, Dr Mamphela Ramphele, is going to eat best when she becomes president, but we know that is like expecting rooibos tea to outsell Coca-Cola.

So what will the DA brand gain by making Ramphele its face of the party for this election? To beef up its “struggle credentials” and gain more black faces, analysts say.

If the analysts are right, the DA has got it all wrong. A 66-year-old struggle veteran is irrelevant to today’s voters in a country where the majority is young and female. The opposition needs to have a long-term view if it is to compete against a rival that is more than a hundred years old.

If the DA loses this election, at 71 gogo Ramphele will be too old to contest the next one. The bold strategy would have been for the DA to say: “Vote for South Africa’s first female president. Vote for Lindiwe Mazibuko.”

The problem with the DA is that it is unwilling to live up to its own ideals of a liberal country that is free of prejudice.

Like many analysts unable to change their world-view of apartheid, they still think that you need a black person to run for president in South Africa. That is nonsense of the highest order because, unlike Europeans, Africans are not inherently racist, which is why Zambia has a white vice-president.

This is also the reason white people were represented in disproportionately high numbers in leadership positions in the liberation movement. African racism was a defensive response triggered by unprovoked hatred from their colonisers.

The DA threw away the loyalty of its young, home-grown talent for umakhulu oxokayo (a dishonest granny), which is a no-no in African culture.

Agang?SA denied the marriage right up until the very last day. Politrickery does not work. To paraphrase advertising guru David Ogilvy: “The voter is not a moron. He is your husband.”

Chris Hani coined the phrase “fossilisation of leadership”, referring to an old and tired ANC leadership. Ramphele (66), Helen Zille (62), De Lille (62).

South Africa’s average age is 25.

»?Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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