Mmusi Maimane during the Democratic Alliance (DA) manifesto launch at the Rand Stadium on February 23, 2019 in Johannesburg. (Gallo Images, Netwerk, Deaan Vivier)
The thought of a Parliament with the likes of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Andile Mngxitama and Mzwanele Manyi leading their own parties makes me chuckle, but in a democracy, anything is possible, writes Tshidi Madia.
I think I have the support of many South
Africans when I say, I am confused. I cannot relate to anyone in the political
sphere at the moment and this is where many South Africans stand too.
Speaking to analyst Prof David Everatt from
the Wits School of Governance, he noted that just over half of Gauteng voters
are "floating voters". As a Gauteng resident, that is exactly where I
fall, and I don't see anyone around me who is loyal to anyone.
What I have seen are people who were once
loyal to a party, who have now distanced themselves from that party. People who
were once traditionally United Democratic Front supporters, for example, are
now saying they can't get behind Bantu Holomisa.
Another major example are people who want
to vote for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) but, at the same time, are
hoping that this vote is not what gives the party the edge to be in charge.
Instead allowing them to continue to put pressure on the ANC to account.
In my career, I can't remember seeing so
many white people coming out to show their support for Cyril Ramaphosa; people
who fight their hatred for the ANC and declare they they're voting for the ANC
This is a man that both a young black
majority and white people can relate to and it is telling of what Ramaphosa is
gunning for. It is something very much of the Mandela era where different
spheres of society connected with the then incumbent.
While this could mean that the ANC will do
well on a national scale, coming out of elections with the majority vote, the
problem lies in that there is not one ANC, there are many ANCs within one. You
have one grouping of the ANC who is desperate for the partfy to have a reduced
In this regard it would serve Ramaphosa
well to stay away from anything Zuma-related if he wants to do better than Zuma
did in previous elections.
Former president Thabo Mbeki has also come
out to campaign for the ANC – a first since his ousting. He has begged South
Africans to get behind Ramaphosa. This could give the ANC a few more votes as Mbeki
is still loved by many.
The stalwart and others have reiterated
that the ANC needs to win a two-thirds majority to fix the country, but South
Africans have learned the hard way that no party deserves such a majority to
take advantage of.
This is why the ruling party will never go
back to a two-thirds majority, but will regress to their death. The ANC has
been on a decline for a long time and now their stronghold in rural areas is
also under threat with smaller parties that speak directly to rural voters eating
at the party's influence.
Whether the party is on a decline to
becoming one of these rural parties or to a complete death, Ramaphosa's
presence slows this down.
power or persuasion?
The expected growth of the EFF, based on
poll predictions, feels guaranteed. The EFF could very well and even double its
As the party that has positioned themselves
in the media as the underdog, the EFF are anything but. This is the party that
played the kingmaker in 2016 and this is where they would like to be. I don't
think they would like to govern but rather be in a position where they can call
the shots behind the scenes.
While the power of the EFF to put pressure
on the ruling party is evident, the EFF has had to use creative ways to appeal
to people without the money or machinery that the DA or ANC are equipped with. Unlike
the EFF, the two parties have massive campaign machines with the ability to
reach pretty much every corner in the country.
Despite this, the DA needs to worry.
There is currently less faith in leader Mmusi
Maimane than there was in Helen Zille and the concern is that he will not be
able to substantially grow the party within the black vote as the DA envisioned.
Under Zille, despite my apprehension
towards her, the DA grew in leaps and her track record cannot be denied. Maimane
hasn't shown himself to have this same capacity and the main concern is what
happens to him after elections. I have asked him this question several
times, only to be met with sidestepping and avoidance – perhaps an indication
On the other hand, the impact of the
Freedom Front Plus on the DA has caused the DA to shed white voters, who are
leaving the party for FF+. This could be one of the reasons the party brought
out the likes of Tony Leon to do some serious damage control. However, it is doubtful that this will work.
The DA has suffered with the issue of reaching a ceiling when it comes to white
voters and they will need more than a pretty face to prevent this.
Consequently, most polls outside of the DA's
own poll see a lackluster performance from the party and where the DA is seen
to grow, it is only by a few notches.
It would be fascinating to see how these
parties, upon election into Parliament, define themselves in that space and how
they relate to other parties.
Without a track record behind them it's
hard to tell whether they all have the interest of the large disadvantaged
black population at heart and this scares me slightly.
The thought of a Parliament with the likes
of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Andile Mngxitama and Mzwanele Manyi leading their own
parties makes me chuckle, but in a democracy, anything is possible.
If these parties, following suit from the
EFF, aim to put more pressure on the ruling party to account for their actions
then our democracy can thrive.
There is no question that some of these
smaller parties will make it into Parliament and this will contribute to a
- Tshidi Madia is a senior politics reporter at News24.
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