19 November, 2013

Fear Is the Ultimate Refuge of the Scoundrel

by Hussein Solomon

The posters are up on lamp posts. The newspaper advertisements are published. Politicians across the political spectrum have rediscovered that citizens actually do exist and they are accountable to an increasingly sceptical public. Yes, the campaigns for the 2014 poll in South Africa have intensified.

The poll is expected to me the most fiercely contested election in the country’s twenty year democracy. Established political parties like the Democratic Alliance has already started making inroads in the ruling African National Congress’ (ANC) support base. Newer parties like Agang and the Economic Freedom Fighters, too, intend to make their presence felt in the political arena. What the different streams of the political opposition have in common is to point to the voters that despite constituting the government for the past two decades, the ruling ANC has scarcely been governing. Crime rates are stubbornly high, corruption is endemic, the ANC is increasingly becoming more authoritarian and the economy is a mess. On the latter point, consider this simple truism: the interest rate on the national debt is the fastest growing item in South Africa’s national budget!

Cyril Ramaphosa (Photo: GovernmentZA)

Feeling beleaguered and encumbered with a president who is a national and international embarrassment, the ruling party has turned to fear mongering. What else could explain ANC Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s outburst at an electoral campaign stop that if the ANC is not voted back into power, the Boers (read: the Afrikaners and the former apartheid state) will return to power? Far from uniting this so-called `Rainbow Nation’, the ANC in desperation has turned to the politics of division. Far from providing leadership and providing their vision of a democratic and economically robust South Africa, the ANC has turned to the past – the struggle against apartheid as their beacon. Far from providing hope to impoverished South Africans, the ANC has turned to raising fears of the highly improbable return to the apartheid past.

Fear is surely the last refuge of a political party which has nothing left to offer the country and its citizens.

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