DA and EFF’s Zuma struggle

2018-06-07 06:01

SOUTH Africa’s two biggest opposition parties are going to be badly bruised in the coming general election if they can’t get over their Jacob Zuma hangover soon and start inspiring voters with alternative visions of a better future.

When Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema opened their newspapers last Sunday morning and read that, according to an Ipsos poll, 76 out of 100 South Africans think Cyril Ramaphosa is doing a good job, they must have choked on their porridge.

Only 20 out of 100 thought that Zuma was an okay president in an opinion poll late last year.

Zuma really spoilt the opposition parties; he was their most effective campaigner.

If Ramaphosa is indeed going to call an early election in October or November, as some of his advisers believe he should, I think the DA would struggle to get over 20% of the vote and the EFF over 10%.

The DA drew 22,2% of the vote in 2014 and 26,9% in the local elections of 2016. The EFF got 6,3% in 2014 and 8,2% in 2016.

Interestingly, the IFP is the one opposition party that could benefit from the Ramaphosa phenomenon.

Indications are that some aggrieved Zulu nationalists and Zuma loyalists could switch from the ANC to the IFP in protest, and that some traditional IFP supporters who had abandoned the party for the ANC when Zuma became president could go back to it. Perhaps the IFP could get closer to 10% this time?

But if the election is only going to take place in June or July next year, the Ramaphosa government will have to prove that there was some substance to the promise of a New Dawn. That’s not going to be easy.

The land issue could become his biggest stumbling block if his efforts at finding compromises don’t get popular support. Expectations are irrationally high.

The EFF’s struggle to show continued growth — I believe they’re talking about aiming for upwards of 16% of the vote — became clear with their actions in Parliament last week. Malema made a typical bombastic Zuma-era speech with personal attacks, insults, threats and petty, cheap, populist comments.

Now that the ANC has also announced that it is willing to accept the expropriation of land without compensation, Malema had to go one step further and encourage the illegal occupation of land.

When Malema was called to order, his gang in red started banging on desks chanting “Occupy the Land”! Does the EFF really think this will have the same legitimacy and popularity as the chant “Pay Back the Money”?

I’m beginning to think that the EFF is underestimating the extent to which ordinary South Africans have moved on after Zuma.

Perhaps the EFF’s mistake is to believe the racial outrage they see on social media reflects the true feelings of the people of the country.

Older voters and those from the broad middle classes do not support the chaos brought on by illegal land occupations, and the proposal that no one but the state should own land is not a popular one.

Maimane made a much more sober and sophisticated speech during the same debate in Parliament, but his party’s identity crisis is no smaller than the EFF’s. Black South Africans who were so repulsed by Zuma’s crudeness and corruption that they switched to the DA are still maligned by many in the communities and the media because they are supporting a “white-dominated” party.

The obvious difference in nuance and style between black and white DA leaders makes it easier for them to join the Ramaphosa fan club, while the clumsy handling of the Patricia de Lille case did nothing to restore faith in the party.

If it is true that there are a few DA personalities who want to break away to form a “pure liberal” party, and I can hardly believe anybody would be stupid enough to think this would gain any traction at all, then perhaps it would strengthen Maimane’s hand.

Our democracy needs a strong, effective opposition. The EFF needs to grow up and realise that cheap racial populism and Venezuela-like policies don’t cut it any longer.

Many may share the EFF’s anger and frustration, but few would trust it to become the government.

The DA urgently needs to get its leaders to talk the same language and issue a simple, clear manifesto explaining that it is a social democratic party and what exactly that entails. Both parties need to give voters something to believe in and strive for, rather than something to oppose.

— News24.

The IFP is the one opposition party that could benefit from the
Ramaphosa
phenomenon.

BEFORE President Cyril Ramaphosa took over the highest office in the land, it suffered from a crisis of credibility. His predecessor, Jacob Zuma, had spent a lot of time and energy destroying it.

Zuma inherited from Thabo Mbeki an office with a high level of respectability and moral credibility. It was not perfect and the incumbent made mistakes that require no enumeration here. But the fact that it had the requisite gravitas is not in dispute.

Mbeki took over from the larger-than-life Nelson Mandela who laid the foundation and set the standards. It took Zuma eight years to destroy what Mandela and Mbeki created in nearly 15 years.

Mandela’s presidency was about reconciliation, nation-building and completing the Constitution-making process. It was an imperative imposed on his presidency by the demands of a fragile nation at the time. Mbeki’s presidency was about the nuts and bolts of state craft, fixing the public finances left in shambles by the National Party and hoisting South Africa’s flag higher in global affairs. Zuma showed not even the pretence of lofty ideals. For him public office was about personal survival.

Zuma’s downgrading of the office in almost all respects made the challenge of his successor look easy on the face of it. Ramaphosa’s first objective was the restoration of the moral authority of the office of the president. He also needed to inject into the Presidency his own vision.

By merely being in the office, Ramaphosa restored its credibility. But it was always going to be what he would say and do next that would indicate the substance of his leadership style as he confronts governance collapse head-on.

In his first key speeches — the State of the Nation Address, the ANC January 8 statement, his Freedom Day message and the Presidency Budget vote — he has set out his immediate priorities. The interrelated themes are good governance, rooting out corruption, restoring trust in the government and rebuilding the economy to create jobs. The collapse of basic governance in all major sites of state authority — national Cabinet, some national departments, state-owned entities and many provinces and municipalities — dictates that he needs to focus on emergency tactics to restore normality. He has set the right tone and has moved fast to flush out some elements of state capture and to rehabilitate governance...

See full column on Amanzimtoti Fever facebook page.

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