2015-12-19 23:09

Following last year's general elections, South Africa boasts a colourful, and to a tolerable degree, an irritably noisy democracy whose National Assembly is now home to 13 political parties, made up of the dominant African National Congress; the eerily liberal Democratic Alliance; the theatrical Economic Freedom Fighters and other visibly useless political parties whose ideological positions are yet to be decided (not that the ANC has any definitive ideological stance).

After the historical fall of Former President Thabo Mbeki, whose descent left a cascade of debris (for which the remnants are still visible), the ANC found itself bearing the incredibly massive responsibility of not only having to rebuild, unite and stabilise the organisation but of protecting and rebranding the image of President Jacob Zuma who's reputation had been tarnished by a string of unsavoury allegations against him, followed by frequent appearances in the court of law. Interestingly, equal to the risk it took when it replaced Thabo Mbeki with Jacob Zuma, the ANC immediately assumed a position that would compel the organisation to develop a defence mechanism that would hold the centre even in the midst of the most aggressive storms.

Fast forward to 2015, Zuma is still in power. Truth be told, he has seen it all, and sadly for him, none of it has flown past the faces of his opposition without the mess being redirected back to his face again. However, two pertinent questions lie at the heart of the reality that speaks to the ANC's continued dominance of the political space, and in contrast, the apparent weakness of the opposition: 1) Despite the array of damaging attacks against the ANC and the remarkable fact that both Zuma's terms have been marred with controversy, how has the ANC managed to keep the centre intact? 2) Why has the opposition not managed to dismantle the ANC even at times when it appeared to have enough ammunition to do so?

The first question redirects one to the point made initially about the ANC's development of a defence mechanism upon the election of Zuma as President. When the opposition adopted a character founded on the misguided principle of referencing newspaper headlines as a way to defame and discredit Zuma and the ANC, the ANC responded by giving statistical evidence of how they had improved the lives of millions of South Africans. In other words, the opposition's obsession with the general moral conduct of the President intensified Zuma's general understanding of the role he ought to play as a leader in government, particularly from a policy point of view. He amassed an arsenal of political rhetoric to sell to his constituency, while the opposition abandoned policy, and adopted Zuma as its campaigns manifesto.

The second question speaks directly to how politics of the day affect the citizenry. That is, the excessive use of political power by the political elite to make decisions that cause citizens to organise themselves against the state. In the case of Zuma, these may range from Nkandla, Marikana, and recently, the axing of Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene.

If one is to note gravity of the catastrophic decisions combined, it would be incredibly difficult for any politically conscious individual to support Zuma. He and the ANC, continue to enjoy support based on a very few, yet critical factors: 1) No opposition party, except the EFF and the DA, has been able to mobilise the citizens of this country behind an ideology that is politically sound, and one with which the citizenry can relate. 2) Also, none is capable of providing any evidence of how they are going to create jobs without using the clichèd common rhetoric that they "will create jobs". 3) None ever releases its policies to the public for scrutiny and input by structures outside the political sphere (directly or indirectly).

In a nutshell, South Africa has a long list of political parties whose contribution is only limited to the discourse on whether President Jacob Zuma has the capacity to take this country forward or not, but never on how the opposition itself intends to provide solutions in areas where the ANC is failing.

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