Disc Dem

Disc Dem

Friday, 15 April 2016

To Break or Brake the ANC?

Listening to all the political rhetoric, we could be forgiven for believing that if we vote for opposition parties in the upcoming local government elections, it will bring about the immediate downfall of Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s ANC National Government. The reality is that, whatever the outcome of these elections, Jacob Zuma could still be with us until at least 2017, and the ANC will most certainly still be running the country until at least 2019.

It is also important to remember that the ANC remains very strong in Kwazulu-Natal, and in the rural areas of other provinces, so the fuss is really only about who will control the Metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

If you are dreaming of outright DA victories in Johannesburg and Tshwane, then dream on.  The EFF had a strong showing in the 2014 national elections in Gauteng, and has been gaining ground ever since, so coalition politics is a more likely outcome in these two metros. In this case, my question to the electorate, not forgetting that the EFF was spawned from the ANC is: will you be happy with a DA/EFF coalition and, more importantly, will such a coalition actually work? Personally I do not think so as their ideologies are so far apart they should be ethically irreconcilable. Compromises of titanic proportions would be required, such that disagreements could precipitate the same fate for the coalition as the famed ship of that name.  Then what is to happen? Will it be an ANC/EFF coalition, or an ANC/DA coalition?

It also begs the question: is completely fracturing the ANC at this time really worth it when the outcome is continuing dysfunctional governance, where the only winners are the politicians and not us? In any event, a potential fracture will not be so large that an opposition party will freely walk into a metro with an outright majority, except perhaps in Nelson Mandela Bay. In a coalition scenario it may therefore be better that the ANC and DA swallow their political pride and co-operate.  A combination of centre-left and centre-right is infinitely more workable than a centre-right/far-left betrothal. 

Before you reject this idea out of hand, consider what master-tactician Sun Tsu says in his book The Art of War, which is still used today to guide not only military, but also civil and business strategies: “If you surround the enemy, leave an outlet; do not press an enemy that is cornered”. By extending their hand in this way, the DA may give the ANC the outlet they need to prevent a large number of their “cornered” supporters from lashing out, and fracturing the country as a whole.  It is a big decision whether to break or just brake the ANC, which makes it imperative that we understand what we are voting for, instead of just blindly voting against the ANC.

To those who still have the complete destruction of the ANC at the top of their wish-list, I would say that you must be careful what you wish for - it may just be granted. 

The bottom line, though, is that the above is debating issues that would never have occurred if we had an electoral system that promoted constituency accountability above party loyalty. We would now rather be asking the right questions about local service delivery, instead of focusing our efforts on removing a single individual from national office.

Whatever your political affiliation, it is incontrovertible that the electoral system itself needs to be changed, and the sooner the better if we want to ensure “a better life for all” and not just “a better life for politicians”.