The #AmINext protests of the past two weeks were a game-changer for South Africa, writes Adriaan Basson.
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week, every eye in the nation was glued to the parliamentary service channel as
we braced ourselves for a thrilling political drama.
an episode that puts House of Cards to shame, we watched as opposition
politicians put out their best performances all in an effort to remove President
Zuma from office.
expected, Zuma survived this latest motion of no confidence thanks to the
overwhelming majority of the ANC in Parliament.
Zuma supporters were making their way to Cubana in Greenpoint to celebrate what
they viewed as a victory, the opposition vowed that the battle was far from
leader of the DA immediately announced his new path forward: the party would table
a motion in the National Assembly to dissolve Parliament and to hold an early
reactions to this announcement have been mostly negative which shouldn't come
as a surprise as the notion of an early election is uncharted territory in our
of the apprehension towards this latest action by Mmusi Maimane is that many
view it as yet another doomed gimmick by the opposition and I don't believe the
country has been presented with a compelling case to dissolve Parliament.
DA has made the call to hold an election early election because the motion to
remove Zuma was unsuccessful, which led the party to conclude that "the
ANC no longer enjoys the confidence of South Africans", as Maimane would
is clear to most people that this cannot be sufficient reason to drag voters to
an election particularly when we had one a year ago during the local government
elections. Election fatigue is a thing.
many of us are disappointed that Zuma is still the head of state, we also
understand that nothing untoward happened when members of Parliament voted on the
no confidence motion.
we saw was the very best of our democracy. A motion was tabled, voting on this
motion happened through a secret ballot and members on both sides of the House
voted in its favour. The motion was ultimately defeated.
is nothing undemocratic in any of this, instead what would appear undemocratic
is throwing one's toys out of the cot by demanding another election simply
because you didn't have your way. We must be careful of the precedent this
few weeks ago, the Western Cape legislature held a debate on a motion of no
confidence in Premier Helen Zille. The motion was tabled by the ANC as a result
of Zille's remarks on colonialism, but because of the DA's dominance in the
legislature it was never going to succeed.
ANC would have been punching above its weight had it then demanded an early
provincial election because of this loss. Spare me the "Zille cannot be
compared to Zuma" defence and focus on the principle: losing a motion and
your dislike of an incumbent are not sufficient reasons to hold an election.
I disagree with the DA's motivations for calling an early election, I believe
there is a credible case to be made for the dissolution of Parliament based on
facts and not emotions.
must begin by dispelling the view that calling an early election is tantamount
to seeking regime change. Our Constitution, the most progressive in the world,
provides for this through section 50.
can be dissolved if 201 of its members vote to do so. This is a constitutional
mechanism and it would be dangerous for any of us to buy into the ANC's 'regime
change' mantra. This provision is not unique to South Africa as many
parliamentary democracies around the world have called early elections and their
voters understand that this is an ordinary course of democracy.
recently however, electorates tend to punish politicians who call for such
elections. In 2016, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called an early
election which resulted him winning with a reduced majority of just one.
Britain's decision to leave the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May
called an early election in June this year. Although her Conservative Party won
the election, she lost her parliamentary majority and has had to enter into a
deal with the far right Democratic Unionist Party to remain in power.
the trend is that the party in government calls for an early election because
it is confident it will be re-elected. I do not know of many cases where an
opposition party does this.
believe there are parallels to be drawn between May's reasons for the election
and the reasons I believe are cogent enough to call an election in our
called an election because she required a mandate. I would argue that since the
2014 election the ANC has lost its mandate and South Africans need an
opportunity to elect a leadership to steer us into the future.
following question should be the test of whether or not an early election is
needed in any country: is there a material change in circumstances since the
last election that would require voters to go to the polls again? In our
context I would say yes, there is.
Britain the reason was Brexit and what the future off the UK would look like
outside the EU. The people were given the chance to decide which party they
wanted to have lead them through this period. We have reasons to be given a
my view, the basis of holding an early election is that the manifesto on which
the ANC was elected in 2014 is redundant as it no longer applies to the changed
political and economic landscape we now find ourselves in. Simply put, the ANC
and every other party need to ask voters for a fresh mandate to govern.
its 2014 manifesto, the ANC touted the economy and the creation of jobs as its
main goals moving forward.
manifesto stated, "In the next five years, despite the global economic
outlook, we are determined to act decisively and boldly to increase investment
in the real economy and infrastructure, stimulate faster levels of inclusive
growth, speed up social development, substantially reduce poverty and
unemployment and place the economy on a qualitatively different growth path."
we consider just that provision, not only has the ANC failed to deliver on any
of its objectives in the past three years but the conditions under which these
were promised have now changed.
facts are out in the open. The credit downgrades to junk status by ratings
agencies mean that we will not be able to enjoy bold investment in the real
economy or infrastructure. We will also not be able to improve social mobility
or achieve inclusive growth as these downgrades hamper our ability to borrow
which affects whatever social programmes envisaged in this manifesto.
ANC has also failed to reduce unemployment which stands at a record high of 27.7%
which is higher than the 25.5 % of 2014. More importantly, on the question of
economic growth, the country has now shrunk to 0.7 % according to Statistics SA
while the World Bank has projected a growth of just 0.6% for us. So much for
placing us on a "different growth path".
is clear that a new approach is needed and voters deserve a chance to choose
who should lead this effort.
is also clear to the ANC. The fact that the party now trumpets "radical
economic transformation" is a mild concession that it has failed to
deliver. This situation has caused much policy uncertainty as the new finance minister,
Malusi Gigaba, learned when he had to drop the word “radical” during a
gathering of foreign investors at the World Economic Forum in Durban this year.
ANC cannot simply assume that South Africans know what radical economic
transformation means, what it would looks like or that it is what voters want.
The only way to answer any of these questions is to turn to the electorate and
to let us decide.
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