Listening to voters may come too late

'It is 40 days to go. The political histrionics, especially over the past week, have allowed me to finally decide who I will be voting for.’ Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

'It is 40 days to go. The political histrionics, especially over the past week, have allowed me to finally decide who I will be voting for.’ Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

Published Apr 15, 2024


It is 40 days to go. The political histrionics, especially over the past week, have allowed me to finally decide who I will be voting for. I have lived through school-boy bullying. I know what it feels like. I can hear it a long way off. I don’t like the sound of it.

While Jacob Zuma’s MK Party and the ANC go head-to-head in court battles, the DA appears to be losing what constitutes free and fair elections by lashing out at other opposition parties for campaigning in the only province they are in control of.

Quoting dubious opinion polls that keep giving the party extraordinary growth numbers, they come across as rattled by smaller parties that appear to be taking more votes from the DA than from the ANC. A rattled DA is not a pleasant sight to see.

The ANC must be scanning the horizon with glee to see who they will go into a coalition with to get the 5% they may need to remain in power.

The emergence of an insidious intolerance of free and fair elections is rising. Pronouncements on who parties should be opposing have deepened the trenches between them and while some speak stoically as statesmen, others seem to be losing their wits.

While the EFF has absorbed the threat the MK party poses to them, they have had respectful exchanges with each other. The ANC has been fairly aloof and has not voiced any fears of losing their majority.

— Weekend Argus (@WeekendArgus) April 13, 2024

Despite his massive role in state capture and corruption, Zuma continues to be enormously popular among the black urban and rural poor.

Zuma, Gayton Mckenzie, and Malema have a populist attraction that allows ordinary people to feel like they are being seen and heard. There are virtually no other party leaders who get that right.

Both the ANC, DA, and ActionSA’s public engagements feel staged and forced and make one feel like it’s a “smile for the camera, and then let’s get the hell out of here” moment.

South Africa’s 27 million voters are spoilt for choice in 2024. The emergence of a group of intellectuals gathering, first as the Rivonia Circle and some later opting to explore a political formation in Rise Mzansi, reminds one in a way of the various groups that blended to establish the ANC in 1912 in Bloemfontein and the Congress of the People in Sophiatown in 1955.

I do, however, perceive a growing political intolerance and threat to free and fair elections. The DA’s castigation of other opposition parties campaigning in “their province” is the seed that will now spread like a wild weed into other elections in the future.

They should not be surprised if this happens to them in future elections in other provinces and municipalities. They have unlocked this ugly demon that may now destroy future free and fair elections.

After the elections, there is going to be a political realignment bloodbath. Both the ANC and DA will undergo major restructuring, and in the case of the DA, even a split from its firebrands towards a more intellectually reasoned and relevant approach to its role in African politics.

The ANC, if it wants to survive, will similarly have to face its future, and be forced to dump its draining and frequently dozing heavyweights for a lot more youthful common sense. No party is going to come out of this election unscathed.

The IFP post-Buthelezi is struggling. The ANC post-Zuma is struggling. The DA post-Zille is struggling. Because all of them waited too late in their party’s life cycle to change their leadership and their party’s trajectory.

Stuck in the mould of what used to work, they are finding out the hard way that the base that used to support them, no longer needs what they have to offer.

South Africans want an intellectually sound, grounded in justice and celebratory global political leadership class. Is anyone out there listening?

* Lorenzo A. Davids.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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