IT WAS bound to happen. With the collapse of the DA/Agang coalition, a new opposition coalition has stepped into the breach. This time it looks decidedly misogynistic and woman unfriendly. The Collective for Democracy (CFD) which formed in December last year has been under the radar until now. With the breakup of the much feted Zille/Ramphele relationship, a new political swing formation has been quick to capitalise on dissent.
CFD may have all the allure of a progressive movement but in reality it is nothing more than an evangelical Christian Coalition comprising the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Congress of the People (COPE), the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the United Christian Democratic Party.
CFD policies on the table include a hodge-podge amalgam of anti-abortion rhetoric, the end of abortion on demand, the teaching of creationism in schools, protection of white and black ethnic identity and if the EFF has its way, land redistribution and nationalisation.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and its firebrand leader Julius Malema could enter the coalition if the party gains seats in Parliament. The unproven red fascist party has entered a no-contest pact and partnership with the IFP.
IFP have attempted to distance themselves from CFD, but the rumours of an all out alliance if the ANC loses its majority in the election, persist.
Whether or not CFD, with so varied a political platform, will ever find the means to implement any of its policies, or broker the necessary political will and electoral expediency to get both the IFP and EFF on board, remains to be seen.
For starters, there are major contradictions within the collective and its partners.
For example, the COPE party manifesto promises the end of gender discrimination, but the party is governed by men such as Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota, Lakota is a Roman Catholic, and while he may no longer be against the use of condoms for the prevention of HIV transmission, he most certainly is not in favour of abortion on demand.
The IFP on the other hand has tended to support those who oppose discrimination on the basis of religion, although the party favours Zulu traditionalism, it is not averse to siding with the evangelical agenda.
The EFF’s Julius Malema recently went on a pilgrimage to visit Nigeria’s foremost charismatic preacher, TB Joshua where he received blessings and elecution tips on how to approach the situation at Marikana. His oratory has much improved and he now claims to have found God.
EFF has been punting an essentially black supremacist outlook, but recently have taken to the same tactics as the DA in the quest for electoral power. The “rent-a-white” publicity stunts involving Wiekus Kotze have been all over social media. That a right-wing Afrikaner party such as the Freedom Front Plus could end up in a coalition with the EFF goes to show just how strange and fluid South African politics has become.
Arguably, EFF are the black version of the Freedom Front, and both party’s extreme quasi-socialist policies are really no different from each other. FF+ however, come from a tradition in which national socialism in the form of job reservation for whites, was in the exclusive domain of the Afrikaner minority.
Or will we see women’s rights disappear after the election, the repeal of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1996 along with abolition of pink rights such as the right to sexual orientation, contained in our constitution ?
Will we see a return to theocracy and the end of the separation of Church and State? Only a reasonable turnout at the ballot box will solve this one.
Although the South African constitution guarantees religious freedom, the state has not been exactly tolerant towards faith expression. First there was the debacle surrounding the refusal of Home Affairs to grant the Dalai Lama a visa in order to attend a birthday celebration in honour of Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu. There are some 6,000 Buddhists living in South Africa, less than 0.01% of the population.
Then there was the South African Labour Court’s insistence that working class Jews must seek religious guidance from employers in a labour situation in which employees may be interrogated on matters of religious doctrine. Both cases are still ongoing and demonstrate the complete failure of the South African government to cater to minority religious groupings.
Now we hear of the eminent demise of Christmas and Good Friday as public holidays. It is not all that surprising. Why should Christians be allowed to practice their religious traditions and not other groups?
A few hundred people took to the Johannesburg CBD yesterday to voice their concern over hearings to review public holidays.
“Hands off Christmas and Good Friday!” was the message conveyed by supporters of the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP). The march led by ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe ended with his handing over a memorandum to Home Affairs minister, Naledi Pandor at Constitutional Hill to oppose a motion by the Commission for the Protection and Promotion of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.
The commission is allegedly exploring the idea of requesting government to scrap Good Friday and Christmas from the national calendar. The commission alleges that the celebrating of the two Christian holidays discriminated and excludes other religious denominations.
Reading the memorandum, Meshoe said they did not believe the two holidays discriminated against any religion.
“According to Statistics South Africa, Christians make up 79.5% of the country’s population,” said Meshoe.
He said the existence of these two holidays on the calendar showed the majority’s standing.
It is unclear what Meshoe’s true rationale for opposing the motion is, since it is apparent from a number of legal precedents set over the past years such as the Dalai Lama case*, that there is really no such thing as freedom of religion in South Africa.
NOTE: In terms of current South African Labour Law, it is entirely up to the discression of the employer, as to whether or not Muslim employees are able to take off certain religious holidays.