Election day at home in SA – the powers are shifting
Hey there U Community, today is our general election here in sunny South Africa. Every four years locals go to the polls to cast their ballot deciding the leading political party to run our government. The parties present their candidate as chief and we vote for them. A record number of 48 parties will be contending this year, though there are the top three or four who are expected to gain most of the votes. The rest will gain regional support.
The nation is given the day off as a public holiday to go and vote, which is possibly the fourth week in a row where we have a four-day working week, so the usually slow pace of progress is slowed a little more. It’s hard to get into a state of urgency here at the foot of Africa when the weather is fine all year round – freak tropical cyclones, floods and droughts aside, that is. Ironic that one part of the country up north has floods while the other part down south has droughts. It mirrors the vast wealth and income gap which is tarnishing the nation
The ANC (African National Congress), party of the late Nelson Mandela, are likely to win again for the sixth time in a row since 1994, but their majority is shrinking each time. And that’s thanks to their corruption and crime at the top. Crime is of course rampant from top to bottom here. As perhaps the most economically unequal country in the world, we have bred the most criminal population in the world, and the leaders of the ANC lead the way - as all leaders do. That being said, we left behind the most racist government in the world when we overthrew white minority rule in 1994. Before that you could only vote if you were white, which meant 90% of the nation didn’t vote.
As a nation that has gone from one type of crime boss to another, it’s hard to say if voting will really help anything. Perhaps all countries have a similar divide between the devil you know and the devil you don’t know, between the greater and lesser of two evils. The 50 years of Apartheid since 1948, was left behind in 1994 after a bloody armed struggle by the liberation movement called the ANC, ushering in a progressive and wise constitution for the wellbeing of the people. The constitution was highly commended globally for its enshrining of the rights of all citizens. But a lot has changed since then.
The ANC liberation movement became the ruling party and Nelson Mandela went from being a terrorist to the president of the nation, winning the shared Nobel Peace Prize with his nemesis F. W. De Klerk, the previous leader of the last white ruling party who handed over the power to Mandela. And both deserved it for their ability to enact the transition while preventing total civil war. And those initial years were promising for the nation as the ruling ANC promised renumerations of land, jobs and education for the previously disadvantaged black majority.
But 25 years later the celebration has worn off and the promised facilities are slow in manifesting for the masses as they see the whites continue to hold most of the land and the wealth of the nation, despite being only 10% of the population. And this is not for want of trying. The government has rolled out millions of houses for the poor over the decades, though at this pace it may take another 100 years for everyone to get their free house, and jobs are non-existent for a work force that are unable to educate themselves when the education system leaves so much to be desired.
Unemployment is still around 34% today, some of the worst in the world. As a result, some voters have shifted allegiances to the main opposition DA Democratic Alliance party, who came about in 2004, though seen as mostly white. Still they have been gaining traction and more votes with each election, while the ANC lose more. In fact, the ANC has always had over 60% of the vote each election, peaking at 69,69% in 2004, a massive majority by any standards, but dropped to 65,9% in 2009 and further to 62,15% in the last election in 2014.
During this time the so-called white DA gradually gained more votes each time, going from 12,37% in 2004 to 16,66% in 2009 and an impressive 22,23% in the last election of 2014. You can see the dynamics of the nation shifting with these voting figures. The ANC clearly lost the respect of many black supporters, but not enough to make enough of a dent in their control. However, in the last election the ANC clearly lost two of the main four top cities in the country to the growing DA namely in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Cape Town has always been DA and the ANC were never able to control it at all.
At the same time the locally strong Zulu-centric party IFP Inkata Freedom Party of the KZN Kwazulu Natal province in the east, gradually lost votes each election over the years, despite bitter and violent clashes with the ANC in their region. It’s not uncommon still to hear of ANC politicians getting murdered in the Zulu region of KZN every year. So the battle of the tribes is as intense as ever, with Inkata being Zulu and ANC being mostly Xhosa in tribal makeup, Mandela being from the Xhosa tribe of the Eastern Cape. That is not definite though since the last ANC leader ex-president Zuma was himself a Zulu. So there are tribal loyalties as well as political loyalties that still run rampant in the nation.
During all this time we saw breakaways from the ruling ANC every few years, and with each general election a new party would emerge, led by an disgruntled ex-ANC leader who would go off and start his own party, which never came to much except for slightly diluting the majority vote. We had COPE and UDM, for example, who still run every election and have a small following each. This trend has however ramped up when at the last election in 2014 we had another breakaway party called the EFF Economic Freedom Fighters led by the ex-ANC Youth leader, Julius Malema. This young firebrand has branded his party in red. They wear all red overalls and red berets.
This new party looks like it will be the nemesis of the ANC in years to come. Finally, the insiders of the ANC themselves have had splits after seeing the corruption of the leaders like the president and his cronies. The EFF ran in 2014 for the first time and won 6,35% of the vote and immediately became the third most popular party in the country. They are however a more openly militant and revolutionary party, run by a young man who went from saying “I will kill for (Pres) Zuma” to becoming his outright enemy in the parliamentary sittings. The EFF are openly radical and show the frustration of the black impoverished South Africans who find their own ANC to be corrupt and unable to deliver on their promises of land, jobs and wealth.
You can watch the annual opening of parliament in February over the previous three or four years and you will see the impact the EFF had in the parliamentary sitting at each event as it was streamed live to the nation each time, and you will see the EFF in red workers overalls and berets, blatantly disrupting President Zuma during his opening speech by standing up, heckling and refusing to let him utter a word, all the while calling him a criminal who must be jailed. They caused such a deliberate commotion that all 30 members or thereabouts, had to be forcibly physically pushed out of the parliamentary proceedings. The bouncers literally came in and fought with them to kick them out of the building so the president could finish his speech. I have never seen such mayhem in the top levels of government in my life, although I hear some other countries also have politicians that come to blows in the House sometimes.
And these EFF radicals are gaining votes by the year and are predicted to grab still more tomorrow at the voting stations. In other words the people of South Africa are feeling so disenfranchised by their own leaders that they are choosing more militant and radical leadership in the form of the EFF leader Julius Malema, who is outright calling for the change of the constitution so that there can be land grabs, better known as “land reclamation without compensation”. He is telling his followers to invade and take over land if they need land. Mostly this is directed at unused municipal land, where people simply go and erect a tin and wood shack in a day and move in. However, this is also building up a rhetoric of private white-owned land invasion, as the blacks see how many white “Afrikaner” farmers still own such big tracts for commercial farming. The problem is that it is these whites who know exactly how to run large commercial farming enterprises and who are the food producers as well as export businesses of the nation.
When the same principle of land confiscation took place in Zimbabwe on our northern border in previous decades, it ruined that country which was once the bread basket of Southern Africa, and this is what is being voted in tomorrow as the new emerging third party ruling the country. The people don’t always see the bigger picture, that in escaping the incompetent ANC and running to the more militant EFF because of their obvious poverty and inequality, they are in fact cutting off their nose to spite their face. They are willing to cripple the economy and food security even more out of desperation. It is like the regular street protests we have here where people burn down municipal buildings or national highways in protest of lack of service delivery. The lack is valid, since the local ANC municipalities are run into bankruptcy by corrupt politicians, yet to show their frustration and have their needs heard, the people have to destroy the few facilities they do have in order to shed light on the fact that they need more facilities. It’s like an infant who is hungry but then gets into a tantrum and throws the food on the floor, defeating the very point itself.
The problem here is that the government is full of corrupt thieves it seems, and the people are feeling the brunt as their leaders rob them. Therefore, they have little recourse but to stage such “service delivery protests” as they’re called. Sometimes highways are shut for the entire nation by crowds with burning tires that melt the tar and cause million of dollars of damage to public infrastructure. The economy then simply grinds to an even slower pace, and even less jobs can be found. You can thus see how desperate the situation is. And that’s why the radical militant EFF in red are on the rise. The leader, Julius Malema, is known as the “commander in chief” and runs his party like an army dictator, so you can imagine where the country is going. The ANC brought this on themselves. The weak-minded corruptible mentality of the South African people is running this country and we will all be subject to that depravity of consciousness.
And that’s not the worst of it because there are even more radical militant groups emerging now, like the “Black First Land First” BLF party, who are openly racist, black only and have huge banners around saying “Land or death”. They are in court now for hate speech crimes so may or may not be running in the election, but they are slow to remove their banners, so the propaganda is out there. And all the while the white minority is the whipping boy or seen as the main villain or is the first target in the unrest that may be ensuing, us and the poor Somali shopkeepers who ae regularly subject to Xenophobic attacks and looting of their little shops in the poorest township areas.
I haven’t even begun to mention the real original nation of this part of Africa, namely the “Bushman” or Khoi-San, who are not white or Black Bantu (Zulu or Xhosa) and who were here before the black tribes came south. They are the truly disempowered minority who reject even the ANC, calling for people to boycott the elections in protest against the abuse of their rights.
Nevertheless, I will go and vote as I do every four years, though it is with little hope for the future of this nation. But then this is going on all over the planet in countries run by corrupt dictators or technocrats or IMF puppets who squeeze the life blood out of the citizens so that the global banking elite can run the show from behind the scenes. They are the real tyrannical rulers and the little local leaders are just riding the gravy train because they have no choice. Either you sell out to the World Bank or be kicked out. And the poorest are the ones that feel it the worst throughout history and that’s why they rise up eventually and take to the streets in protest. We see it from Venezuela/Argentina/Brazil to France to South Africa.
Go out and vote anyway, since you have the power and the right, so exercise your rights, otherwise you are a bystander who does nothing to improve the problem and you give your power to your opposition. Reclaim your power and vote – with your ballot, with your wallet and with your voice. As a seeker of consciousness we may not be interested in politics and more in uplifting the psyche of humanity via transcendental means, yet we can still vote and be part of the effort on the ground too.