ELECTIONS 2019: T minus 3 Days
5 May 2019, Sunday, and South Africa’s stadiums fill one more time not with sports, but with supporters attending the final rally of their political party in the upcoming national general elections on coming Wednesday, 8 May 2019.
The democratic and now constitutional right to vote was hard fought for 25 years ago, under a liberation movement, which called itself the African nNtional Congress. This freedom movement has virtually fought in the trenches of South Africa’s Apartheid politics, using legal and illegal means alike – at that time “for the greater good”! The goal was achieved, the apartheid era came to an end, the first elections took place in 1994 and the iconic leader of the liberation movement, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela became the first president of a South Africa, which was from there on supposed to be the home to all religions, races and gender.
25 years later it is time for elections once again, but Nelson Mandela has in the meantime passed away and his liberation movement is still in absolute power. This should have made him proud, but we doubt that pride seeing what has become of the political landscape and the political parties. Sessions of parliament become the stage for open disrespect, violence and defiance of the very constitution they sworn to protect.
South Africa is not the home for everybody anymore as the ANC drives an openly xenophobic policy and instead of leading by example show the people how easy it is to get away with crime, corruption, nepotism and coercion. Capital crimes have increased instead of decreased, almost every state-owned enterprise is technically bankrupt and billions of rand are owed to foreign lenders and lending institutions with 5% of tax-paying South Africans footing their bills and the national debt repayments. The youth of any colour is leaving the country in search for greener pastures, while the political elite indulges in wasting and embezzling public funds and preparing for what was thought to be a routine election campaign to secure their absolute majority in parliament and provinces.
But the last years have seen other political parties rattling the ANC’s golden cage and making a name for themselves on the political stage, but not all are heard and especially voted for. South Africa is mainly governed by three political forces, the ANC, the DA and the EFF, considering maybe the IFP on provincial level as well. Eight of nine provinces are ruled by the ANC and one by the DA, but quite a score of key municipalities within ANC-governed provinces are run by the DA. The last elections showed the ANC supporters in clear majority with 62.15%, followed by the DA with 22.23%, the EFF with 6.35% and the IFP with 2.4%.
2019 shows a different picture: the ANC is not worried anymore to miss the two-third majority, which is needed to secure enough seats to amend the constitution, the ANC worries of missing the 50% mark as the most recent IRR Report shows and to loose the province Gauteng. But the winner out of this development is not the DA as one might think, it is the EFF. The charismatic “son of the soil”, Julius Malema, tireless campaigned across the country and left no opportunity out to smear and slander the ANC. His frustrations and rage following his dismissal out of the ANC as fresh as it was on the day.
The DA had all the chances of cementing their position as strongest opposition, but internal quarrels, inept leadership and petty in-house fighting led to a loss of credibility, costing the party now dearly. Mmusi Maimane vs Cyril Ramaphosa vs Julius Malema, three personality giants at each other’ throat, that was what the voting masses had to watch and try to decide, which one should enjoy their support. But a politically tired populus might in large numbers not vote at all, by that giving the leading party indirectly their support.
So, where do we stand 72 hours before E-Day?
The Criterion Report, based on a quarterly survey conducted by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) published the latest opinion poll figures last week and presented a shockingly new scenario on National Level with the ANC finding only support in 49.5% of its voters, the DA unchanged with 21.3% and the EFF significantly up at 14.9%. On provincial level, the report came with another unexpected finding as the DA’s stronghold in the Western Cape seems to be under siege and the grip on the province sliding from 50.1% in February to 44.6% just 5 days ago, while the ANC is still hovering around the 27.3% mark. ACDP, EFF and other small parties make up for the balance with only EFF and ACDP – both around 7% – being the only significant other political parties finding provincial support. Up North in Gauteng, the economic powerhouse of South Africa, the ANC is currently only tallying 42.8% supporting voters, while the DA – based on a tow-third voter turnout – has just moved above the 40% threshold, leaving the EFF with 13% in their wake.
What does that mean for South Africa, if it becomes reality?
Well, on provincial level the Western Cape’s DA is still suffering from the damage done by former mayor Patricia de Lille, whose public as well as political defiance had prompted the worst behaviour by their elected leaders. Behaving like a four-year old child throwing her toys out of her cod when asked to step down after showing an intolerable amount of incompetence and missing leadership, she is now heading “GOOD”, a political party with no national footprint and enjoys only the support of her closest friends not making a dent in any other party’s voter support. Despite the theater we had to endure around her, the DA will have all options to join forces with EFF or ACDP, or both, a coalition that is already been practised by means of mutual party discipline, which led to Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay currently being ruled by the DA.
In Gauteng, the EFF will become King-Maker, no matter where the detailed percentages will end up, as the EFF would be able to help either ANC or DA help into the Driver Seat by forming part of a coalition. But It will not necessarily be a copy of the situation in the Western Cape, as the DA’s role in the Cape is still stronger and the ANC does not even come close.
Finally, on national level we can breathe a bit easier as in the moment not even ANC together with the EFF reach the two-third majority necessary to change the constitution and push for finalisation of land expropriation without compensation. But we will also not see an end of he ANC as strongest party, even when governing as minority leader. The problem will be that EFF and DA will be able to block many unpopular decisions and we might face a political patt-situation, a stalemate that could render the country powerless, also not a positive prospect. The future of President Ramaphosa hinges on percentage fractions and even if he, the man that pushed the ANC back into the driver seat, will see the ANC making it to an absolute majority, it does not mean he will stay the president. The power struggle within the NEC continues and is currently split 50/50 between support for Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma, but a power-shift towards the Zuma-supportes can already be recirde, even if ever-so-slightly, which brings teh danger that South Africa will come to endure five years under the reigns of Mrs. Zuma, a catastrophic outlook which will nail South Africa’s coffin shut!
To vote or not to vote?
Clearly – and although the constitution and laws of South Africa only grant the right and do not impose an obligation to vote – the constitutional right to vote should be exercised by any means possible. We can expect free and fair elections under the watchful eyes of the IEC and as in any democracy, a vote wasted or not cast is always a vote for the strongest party, here nationally the ANC. The problem is that due to educational sub-standards in various regions of the country, clever political leaders in their respective wards are still able to make South Africans believe that no water or electricity and unemployment as well as crime is not the fault of the ruling party, which allegedly works tirelessly to improve living conditions: “Liar, Liar … Pants on Fire” …. unfortunately often undetected by the unsuspecting eye and ear!
A significant number of voters are also still undecided. Here the most recent events will play a major role in swinging their vote in either direction. The statements made by ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule represent a typical example for that.
So go and vote for anyone, except for those with A bsolutely N o C redibility!