Guest Column

How the ANC’s race card is doing at the polls

2017-03-09 15:27
DA leader Helen Zille. (Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24)

DA leader Helen Zille. (Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24) ((Bongiwe Gumede, Foto24))

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Michael Mpofu

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.

This has been the ANC in the Western Cape’s approach for several years – in fact, pretty much since they lost power in the City of Cape Town over 10 years ago, and the province over 7 years ago.

After years of infighting and institutionalised corruption in the party, the ANC in opposition seems to have only one argument left when faced with real debate – to cry racism.

So strong is the party’s faith in this strategy, it has made the race card central to all its messaging, even though it is rapidly losing not only its electoral numbers – but also its credibility.

The ANC’s quandary has further been compounded by the building of a capable state in the DA-led Western Cape, with a delivery record and clean audits to match.

Premier Helen Zille is probably one of the only premiers in the country to avail herself regularly to answer questions in the provincial legislature. This is how it should be.

And when she appears for questions, the premier is met by an opposition that is unprepared, haphazard and frankly, incompetent.

Crying racism is the fig leaf behind which the ANC in opposition try to hide their incompetence.

The ANC believes that crying racism absolves them of trying to do any real work in opposition to debate the challenges of ensuring quality service delivery for all.

When the premier recently appeared in the provincial legislature for a question session, the ANC was once again armed with their worn out card of racism.

The “leader” of the opposition argued – without evidence – that racial attacks by whites on blacks were escalating in the Western Cape.

The party also claimed that recent incidents of mosque vandalism on the peninsula were an example of this, even as the identity of the perpetrators remains unknown as police have made no arrests.

This incoherent argument of escalating racial attacks is not supported by the crime statistics.

In fact, consistently (and conveniently) forgotten by the ANC, are the true victims of crime in the Western Cape, the safety of whom falls directly under the ANC-run national government’s mandate. That is where the operational control of the South African Police Service falls.

An evidence-based reading of the crime stats shows that victims of violent crime in the Western Cape are most likely to live in communities impacted by gang violence, poor police resourcing, and social problems such as alcohol and drug abuse that lead to interpersonal violence.

If the ANC was truly concerned about crime, then they should be protesting outside the SAPS national headquarters where decisions are taken about how to resource police stations and crime hotspots – a mandate over which provincial governments have no control.

If the ANC in opposition were truly appalled by crime in areas like Nyanga they would call on their national Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko to better resource the community where the current police to citizen ratio is 1 police officer for every 777 citizens – while the national average is 1:356.

In response to this, President Zuma visited Nyanga recently to plead ignorance about the poor resources allocated to the area – even as his promise of specialised drug, gun and gang units goes unfulfilled.

Meanwhile, President Zuma easily deploys over 400 soldiers to “protect” him during the opening of Parliament. In fact, more resources were deployed at Parliament than are available in any of Cape Town’s crime hotspot areas, at any given time.

If they were serious about better securing the most vulnerable, the ANC would join our call for communities to report criminals who stone and rob EMS workers.

As a result we have at least 10 red zones in the City of Cape Town, where ambulances are unable to enter without police escort.

In the most recent case, a stone was hurled at an EMS ambulance, broke through the window and lodged into the back of an EMS professional.

Khayelitsha Commission

The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry further revealed what the ANC truly thinks of the fight against crime.

Instead of working with the provincial government in trying to find solutions, mend relationships, and rebuild trust between communities and the SAPS – the then Minister Nathi Mthethwa approached the court to try and block the establishment of a commission.

After successfully winning the battle in the Constitutional Court – Premier Zille established the commission, which made recommendations.

While there are some in the SAPS who are willing to implement the recommendations, most notably the Khayelitsha cluster commander and provincial SAPS commissioner, much of the SAPS top management and national police ministry still choose to turn a blind eye to the commission’s important recommendations for improving policing.

The reality is that people are no longer deceived by the ANC’s ‘race’ card.

They are in fact voting with their feet and choosing a better alternative, as we see in the major decline in electoral support for the provincial ANC each time we go to the polls.

The recent municipal elections are evidence of this – people want an accountable government that respects the rule of law, and is committed to building a capable state. 

If one follows Diko’s logic, and that of every other spokesperson the party has, then the ANC is performing badly at the polls because – racism.


- Michael Mpofu is spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille  

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Read more on:    helen zille  |  racism  |  crime  |  anc

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