It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
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Mmusi Maimane Foto: Argief (Foto: Argief )
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The DA's fearmongering is a thinly disguised attempt to distract from the party's lack of coherence and disastrous year of infighting, writes Melanie Verwoerd.
I simply despise it when politicians use fearmongering to get people to vote for them. Maybe it is because I grew up under the "swartgevaar" propaganda of the apartheid government or perhaps I just hate to be bullied.
I also hate to be lied to – and usually when politicians try to scare people into voting for them they do so by telling half-truths or using crude exaggerations.
The DA seems to be increasingly using this exact tactic. Over the weekend it was reported that Mmusi Maimane suggested that there was little or no difference between the ANC and EFF. He insinuated that voting for the ANC amounts to voting for the EFF.
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He then went further to say that in the case of an EFF-ANC alliance voters will "get a party that believes the state must own and control everything, that believes in racial division and racial mobilisation and that will support and hide each other's corruption".
Really, Mmusi? I would like to challenge the DA to show me a single ANC policy document that encourages racial division or that says the state should own everything.
Of course he then turned to the land issue to do some more fearmongering by invoking amongst others the spectre of Zimbabwe. He also claimed that the decision at the Constitutional Review Committee to amend the Constitution was not the ANC's plan, but it was devised by the EFF.
It's a pity that Maimane was not better informed. In fact, the opposite happened at the committee. The EFF's original motion was far more radical. Apart from calling for a constitutional amendment they also proposed that land, water and other natural resources be vested in the state for the benefit of the people. In addition, they proposed that "all land in private ownership be expropriated henceforth without compensation and placed under the custodianship of the State".
And those were only the first three subsections of their proposal. There were three more.
On Thursday during the committee meeting the EFF, clearly knowing that their proposal would not be adopted, suddenly tabled a motion that resembled the ANC's far more moderate and carefully worded motion. This had been widely circulated. Even the ANC MPs were caught by surprise.
So, in reality the EFF adopted the ANC's motion – the opposite of what Maimane would like the public to believe.
I have repeatedly publicly expressed my criticism of the ANC's handling – in particular the loss of control of the public narrative – around land. This again happened in the committee on Thursday when the EFF tabled the ANC's proposal. The ANC should have made it clear that it was their proposal that the EFF, well, "stole". However, what they did NOT do was to adopt the EFF position; the EFF adopted theirs.
The DA knows they are in trouble. They know that many of the traditional white voter base is considering voting for Cyril Ramaphosa on a national level. These white voters understand that Ramaphosa's political survival is crucial for the racial harmony and economic growth in South Africa. (Maimane's suggestions that the opposite is true are laughable). More importantly, they like Rampahosa and trust him more than any other potential president.
Maimane also knows that their old strategy of "unite against Zuma" won't work this time round with conservative Afrikaans voters, who will return to the Freedom Front+ or other parties.
Apart from the white base splitting their vote, the DA has also lost a huge amount of support in their stronghold, the Western Cape. Patricia de Lille's announcement over the weekend that she will launch her own party, will hurt them more.
They will most likely also lose many of their hard fought votes in the townships to Ramaphosa.
So all this fearmongering is a thinly disguised attempt to distract from the DA's lack of coherence and disastrous year of infighting.
The party should focus on fixing their internal problems and make some solid proposals for the future of this country rather than trying to scare voters with "a vote for the ANC is a vote for the EFF" strategy – a strategy that is coming shockingly close to the apartheid government's old "swartgevaar" tactics.
- Melanie Verwoerd is a former ANC MP and South African Ambassador to Ireland.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.
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