A Scattered Opposition Will Keep the ANC in Power—Arguably Forever

2014-02-04 19:36

The African National Congress may rule until the world comes to an end, because our opposition parties are too proud to integrate and present voters with a rationally irresistible political alternative.

Historically, the ANC has consistently been an organised party that is able to survive difficult political climates. Evidence of this is found in the fact that it is the only actively and vibrantly existing liberation movement in South Africa, bitterly against the pride of the likes of PAC and AZAPO, who’d argue that they played a bigger role than the ANC in the struggle against minority rule.

In a democratic dispensation, many people have sought to conduct studies that aim to provide analysis of why South Africans, black in particular, continue electorally supporting the African National Congress. Others have actually accused the ANC of manipulating the emotions of the poor by constantly highlighting its struggle credentials to make them feel indebted to it. In addition to that, the death of Former ANC President, who also was the first democratically elected president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, resulted in, inter alia, pressing concerns that the ANC was definitely going to use his legacy to lure voters to its snare. Some analysts and commentators have cited (correctly so, although insufficient) business opportunities that the ANC-led government presents to those who support it.

Also accompanying the analysis is the accusation that the ANC uses social grants to get a cross on the ballots.

Admittedly, these are not wrong assertions at all.

They are just critically insufficient.

I think there is a missing discovery in the diagnosis of why South Africans, poor and well-off, still perceive the ANC as the only reliable force in SA politics.

The truth is that we vote the ANC because we have no other sound alternative.

The opposition is failing in terms of offering alternative politics to the voters, and young people. When you look at the nature of our opposition politics you will find that they are made up of scattered, yet similar views, which I believe could make more of a difference when integrated, rather than separately.

COPE challenges the same issues that the DA is tackling, while PAC, AZAPO and EFF aren’t much of distant ideological relatives.

This then renders questionable the continuous, inappropriately planned and often emotionally influenced formation of new political parties. Everyone who has a view against the ANC thinks of launching a new party instead of joining the existing ones. I am not certain whether this is a result of pride or the inability to penetrate the ranks of existing parties in the pursuit to influence their policy outlook.

I had hoped to resist the temptation to drag AgangSA and DA’s botched marriage, but the provocation is too powerful. Come to think of it, there is not really a significant difference between the DA and AgangSA. Perhaps one might argue that the racial composition matters, but beyond politics of skin colour, it is quite debatable why a new party of AgangSA’s character could co-exist with the DA. A marriage of ideas is the only solution in South African politics.

Additionally, the formation of a party that purportedly champions gender issues (as seen in the news) must be interrogated, and we must in the process ask ourselves the critical question: Why didn’t this party infiltrate the existing party and put forward its gender priorities within the ranks of such a tried and tested party?

My argument as a young South African is that the opposition is actually failing us as voters who may not necessarily want to support the ANC, but as a result of circumstances find ourselves eventually voting it into power.

As long as the opposition remains divided and scattered all over, the ANC will be better positioned as our party of choice. We may not really admire its leadership, but in whom can we trust when no one is selfless enough to forego their party-political interests in pursuit of a united national political agenda?

South Africa genuinely, and with the passing of time, desperately needs a concerted strategic and tactical approach to matters of national importance.

It is an exercise in futility – more like punching in the dark – to listen to more than ten leaders of different political parties complaining about the same issues of corruption, maladministration, poor education, poor healthcare and lack of accountability in government. It makes no sense at all to vote for different political parties that all seek to take power from the ANC. None of them is likely to win the elections. And no one wants to vote recklessly. We want our votes to make a difference in the affairs of our country. And surely donors want to channel their resources to a living, potent and united political front that will significantly endanger the ruling party.

At the moment the ANC, with its reportedly declining support, will continue ruling the country. It may receive lesser votes, but such a decrease is meaningless when lost votes do not benefit a single, strong and united opposition.

So, imperfect as it may be, I am afraid the ANC is the only reasonable option—for me, that is.

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