Max du Preez

DA propaganda is straight out of EFF rulebook

2018-11-20 08:27
President Cyril  Ramaphosa at the ANC's elective conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC's elective conference at Nasrec in December 2017.

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Despite his shortcomings and mistakes, in the political reality of today, our best chance to see populism and corruption countered would be an election victory for Cyril Ramaphosa and thus the ANC, writes Max du Preez.

Next year's election and the campaigns leading up to it are dominated by one individual: Cyril Ramaphosa. He is Point Number One on every political party's strategy.

The ANC knows that if it weren't for Ramaphosa, the trajectory of its weakening support would have continued and potentially led to losing next May's election.  

The DA knows that there is a very real chance that people who would otherwise have been tempted to vote DA this time round, will make their cross behind the ANC because they hope that Ramaphosa is going to make a real difference and undo the Zuma damage. In fact, some disillusioned DA voters might just abandon the party and go "vote for Cyril".

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This explains the hysteria with which so many DA leaders, representatives and activists have reacted to my previous column.

My theme was actually the dangers of populism, referring to an interview with French president Emmanuel Macron addressing the issue. I hoped that Ramaphosa would heed his advice and wrote: "Strong and brave leadership is necessary to prepare the ground for economic growth and an efficient state in South Africa. In the process unpopular decisions are inevitable. Unemployment and inequality feed populism and ethnic nationalism, but instant solutions and socialist dreams can only make it worse in the longer term."

But the DA's social media army simply focused on my last sentence: "But if the ANC dips under 50%, the populists will have a field day and the dream of a better life for all will once more be deferred."

The DA's social media army descended upon me with a great vengeance. I'm a paid ANC agent, a fellow traveller, a useful idiot, a coward and a Ramaphosa groupie, they claimed. 

DA MP Dean MacPherson tweeted that land expropriation was a cunning Ramaphosa plan from the start and added: "I'm sure your next column will try convince South Africans that we should be a one party state under the ANC." 

I had to remind him that I also wrote: "The chances that Ramaphosa would be able to modernise and reform the ANC, rid it of its worse struggle hangovers and get it to govern the country efficiently with a new vision are fading by the day."

And then the self-styled guardian of DA liberalism and former DA official, Gareth van Onselen, tweeted this about my column: "This is what happens when your entire world view has been captured by the ANC. You lose not only the imagination to think otherwise but the bravery or conviction to advocate anything different. This column is, in its entirety, a white flag." Channelling Donald Trump, he ended: "It's just sad."

In an earlier tweet, Van Onselen called Ramaphosa "The ANC's greatest radical socialist". Really, go check his Twitter timeline.
This is propaganda, pure and simple. I was thinking how to put this when I read Van Onselen's latest column and found that he analysed it himself perfectly, only he was referring to the EFF's propaganda style

Here are some sentences from his column: "It [EFF propaganda] operates in a world of absolutism. There is no ambiguity or subtlety, only total certainty. Its enemies are absolute enemies, irredeemable and permanently tainted…

"Ridicule is central to this. Enemies are given demeaning and patronising nicknames, designed to belittle them and reduce their standing in the public eye….

And: "Supplementing this the fourth characteristic of EFF propaganda: rhetorical shorthand and the reduction of the complex to the simple."

Say no more.

Then DA leader Mmusi Maimane got in on the act in an opinion piece, saying Ramaphosa will never again have as much power as he has now. There is "a reasonable chance", he said, that Ramaphosa will be pushed out before the end of his presidential term. He will be replaced by David Mabuza, and that could facilitate the return to the ANC of Julius Malema, he said.

Maimane concluded: "In 2019, a vote for Ramaphosa will be a vote for the ANC and for DD Mabuza." Two other DA MPs have since repeated this same mantra to me: a vote for Cyril is a vote for Mabuza.

This is pure EFF politics perpetrated by a desperate DA. Oversimplifications, distortions and the peddling of paranoia. No ambiguity or subtlety, in Van Onselen's words.

READ: Tony Leon: The DA dilemma - Looking two ways at once

Or is it possible that Maimane and his colleagues really have no understanding of the vicious power struggle inside the ANC? That they see no difference between what Ramaphosa, Tito Mboweni, Pravin Gordhan and others are trying to achieve and Ace Magashule, Mabuza, Bathabile Dlamini and their ilk's agenda?

I maintain that populism and corruption are the biggest immediate threats to our democracy and stability.

Despite his shortcomings and mistakes, in the political reality of today, our best chance to see that countered would be an election victory for Cyril Ramaphosa and thus the ANC. 

If the ANC gets, say, 45% of the vote in May next year (and I think that is unlikely), the country will be governed by an alliance between the ANC and the EFF. How does the sound of deputy president Julius Malema fall on your ears?

If the ANC dips just under 50%, perhaps it would be able to govern with the help of smaller parties like the IFP and the UDM.
But anyone who thinks that the DA will win the election or that the ANC will turn to the DA as a coalition partner is, in my view, delusional. 

I do hope the DA does well in the election. I hope the ANC is limited to below 55% of the vote. I hope the opposition parties will give the ANC hell next year. 

Having said that, the DA's best hope to grow its support is not fear mongering or obfuscation, but an energetic, new vision and clear alternatives communicated well.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  gareth van onselen  |  dean macpherson  |  elections
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