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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it comes to the forthcoming national elections, South Africa is headed for a most mediocre outcome.
me put it this way: the 2019 elections will most likely fail to bring
significant change in the country. This is because South Africa's body politic –
and the behaviour of the major political parties – has lost its commitment to
the plight of the people and willingness to inspire meaningful change in
three dominant political parties in South Africa (the DA, ANC and EFF) are all embattled
in political skirmishes that do not allow them to genuinely engage with the
issues that South Africans are confronted with.
with the ANC, the EFF is embroiled in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal. Whether or
not the parties and its senior members have unduly benefitted from the VBS
looting, they cannot be trusted to bring major changes that would ensure that
episodes such as this and the Steinhoff fraud do not repeat themselves.
fact that these parties are implicated in benefitting from the VBS looting
shows that they have taken no moral position against corruption.
publicly criticising private sector corruption, the allegations that the EFF
and ANC might have benefitted from the VBS looting mean that these parties do
not see anything morally wrong in benefitting from corruption, as long as no
one is looking. The only change they could bring in relation to corruption is
therefore to manage it, and not to eliminate it.
is the only big change that may come out of the 2019 elections; managing
corruption only to ensure that state institutions are somehow functioning. In
my world, that is mediocre. South Africa deserves much better than this.
regard to the DA, the party also belongs to the same mediocre WhatsApp group as
the EFF and ANC when it comes to prospects for bringing meaningful change after
the 2019 elections.
DA is currently involved in some pay-as-you-go coalitions to run the Johannesburg
and Tshwane municipalities. It remains a mystery what the conditions of these coalitions
are and how they are being maintained. The DA's coalition partner in
Johannesburg and Tshwane refuses to acknowledge that coalitions even exist. I
shall not name this coalition partner here, just so that I honour their fantasy
that they are not involved in any coalition with the DA.
DA has not accounted to anyone as to how the party maintains these coalitions.
Poor voters will have to settle for the explanation that the coalitions have
been entered into with the sole purpose of fixing potholes.
coalitions also seem to be surviving on the whims of individual power brochures
within the DA, and are not necessarily guided by the party's institutional
anyone tell me why the DA-led coalition collapsed in Nelson Mandela Bay while
both the Tshwane and Joburg coalitions survive? To me it appears that the coalition
in Nelson Mandela Bay is not well lubricated, while in Joburg and Tshwane the
partnerships seem to be getting periodic lubrication to get them moving
question is, what is it that political parties are exchanging in these
coalitions if they hardly agree on any policy matter? Even worse, are these agreements
among political parties or among a few powerful individuals across the party
the DA lost control of its senior members who are building their own personal
political empires and whose survival threatens the integrity of the party?
make-believe coalitions that the DA has entered into in various metro
municipalities have done more harm to the party than Mmusi Maimane's poor
leadership. This is the very same DA that is going into the 2019 elections with
an anti-immigration message.
DA knows very well that there is just no way to raise the question of
immigration without risking igniting xenophobia. It decided to abandon its liberal
tradition by yielding to the very populist cloak that the party often accuses
the ANC and EFF of wearing religiously.
custodian of liberalism took a populist stance against a VAT increase and
topped it up by staging a few marches to show that they can also disrupt
whenever they feel insecure as a political party.
this mediocre message, the DA won't return to politics of principle anytime
soon. The party will certainly fix a few potholes here and there; however, it
is not in a position to guide this nation towards much needed change in our way
of doing things as a society.
from what the party is grappling with now, the DA's agenda can only go as far
as managing corruption and bringing about efficiency here and there. As for creative
and meaningful change in society, that would be a stretch for the DA, EFF and
leaders should rise against this sad trend and show commitment to take this
- Ralph Mathekga is a senior researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. He is author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.
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