26 June, 2013

The Silly Season of Electioneering Has Begun in South Africa

by Hussein Solomon

Sigh; yes it is that time of the year when politicians go out of their way to make asses of themselves all in the pursuit of votes. Votes, that will secure them another couple of years defrauding taxpayers. Whilst their snouts dig ever deeper into the fast-emptying troughs of public coffers, their rhetoric grows ever more sanctimonious.

This past week has seen Dr. Mamphele Ramphele launch her new political party – Agang. Whilst taking on the ruling African National Congress on issues of corruption, the dearth of democracy and the poor state of education, there was no clear policy on how this latest political entrant will fix the rot, revive our failing democratic institutions and bring credibility to South Africa’s atrocious education system. In similar vein, South Africa First, formed by disgruntled members of the ANC’s armed wing, are trying to woo voters as well. In the process, voters are asked to ignore the atrocities committed by these erstwhile liberation heroes in notorious camps like Quattro in Angola. Smaller, but established political parties like Bantu Holomisa’s United Democratic Movement seek to revive their flagging fortunes by seeking a coalition with newer entrants on the political scene like Agang.

The ruling ANC, though, is seeking to concentrate on its main opposition nemesis – that of the Democratic Alliance, which controls the only non-ANC province – the Western Cape. President Jacob Zuma saw it fit to visit the poorer regions of the Western Cape and express his horror at the conditions in which residents are living in the DA-controlled province. What makes his response so insincere, of course, is that poorer residents in ANC-controlled areas are in a similar situation, if not worse. In parliament, meanwhile ANC political hacks saw it fit to lambast Lindiwe Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the DA for her weight, her accent and her hairstyle as opposed to the substance of her discussions.

This political buffoonery unfortunately serves no other purpose than to further alienate the electorate – who are affronted that such political theatre detracts from the suffering in their daily lives. Indeed the South African electorate want politicians to get on with the core of their business which is governance. The failure of these politicians to understand this is resulting in popular disenchantment with the political process which is resulting in ever more numbers of South Africans, especially younger people, from not wanting to vote and be part of this political circus.

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