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.
MMusi Maimane (Beeld)
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electoral ancestors seem to be hard at work with the party seemingly having rallied
since Jacob Zuma's tenure came to an end.
reported over the weekend that the party is feeling so confident that it is
ready to go into the national elections as early as tomorrow.
reported that the ANC wants to go into elections earlier so as to capitalise on
the euphoria around Cyril Ramaphosa's leadership (i.e. Ramaphoria). If this is
true then it means the ANC realises that this euphoria will not last too long,
hence the need to cash in on it as soon as possible, or before everyone wakes
up to reality.
I think the
ANC will win the 2019 elections. There is no need for them to ruin the journey
by rushing into it. It’s almost a given that the party will pull it through in
2019. This does not necessarily mean that it is stronger and has fully
recovered from the legitimacy crisis it has suffered in the last decade.
is, however, that the opposition parties are very weak, and even weaker since
Ramaphosa became president of the ANC.
opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is experiencing some form of an existential
crisis. It is battling with the question of how black the party should become
and how much of its white shade it should retain. It is struggling with its
identity and a sense of being. The party is torn between two extremes, with
moderates becoming fewer and fewer by the day.
The one, extreme
side of the DA is held to the idea that the party should retain its identity as
a representative of white minority liberals. This is the group that hates
affirmative action and believes that black people are oppressed as individuals
but not as a distinct racial group.
extreme group believes that the party ought to discard its
identity as a white minority party and adopt a new identity as an African party
reflecting the demographics and the African value system. This group wants to
see the DA becoming a progressive political party that serves as a home for the
majority of blacks.
middle of these two groups we find James Selfe and Mmusi Maimane, the party's two
leaders, who are trying to manage the two extreme groups in the party.
Selfe and Maimane
do not come across as subscribing to either of the two extremes. They
understand that, indeed, the DA has to be transformed and show the national demographic
in its leadership composition, but they believe the process should not be
engineered. It ought to happen organically, at the right pace over a period of
other hand, there is no need for the DA to disown whites to prove that the
party is ready to embrace blacks. Instead, it has to work hard in crafting a
better sense of inclusivity, instead of having to choose between the two races.
that the DA is battling with these questions is a reprieve to the ANC, which is
performing much better than expected. Beside troubles within the DA, opposition
parties are also weakened by the EFF warming up to the ANC on the land
question. This is setback for the DA as an opposition party in the sense that
it actually makes the EFF an enemy of the DA.
conflict between the major opposition parties is a reprieve for the ANC. A fragmented
opposition is good news for the ANC and this is exactly what is happening at the
It is going
to be a long battle for the DA to the 2019 elections. By the way things are
going, it could become the first elections in which it fails to grow its electoral
support since its inception.
- Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes.
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