COPE leader Mosiuoa “Terror” Lekota took a brave step forward to putting his party on a new economic platform, warning on Sunday that South Africa faced the risk of the economy collapsing if the government persisted with its model of running Eskom, “just as the Soviet Union and other socialist governments in eastern Europe experienced in the 20th century”.
Echoing Medialternative’s own analysis of the energy problem, Lekota said:” If you look into our economy, you will see that we are called on to contribute money to Eskom, instead of Eskom generating money to us. That’s what collapsed Soviet Union and that’s what collapsed Russia, China and eastern Europe, because they ceased to generate profit and fell behind,”
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.
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.
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.
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.
THIS year marks the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election. The upcoming general election to be held on a date still to be announced during the April–July 2014 period could signal a see-change in politics.
The ruling ANC party has faced an enormous amount of criticism and pressure from the electorate under the Zuma administration. The last election was held on 22 April 2009. Currently the ANC has 264 seats with the leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance holding 67. Since South Africa’s proportional representation system favours small parties, runner-up Congress of the People (COPE) 30 and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) 18 also play an important role.
Here are three scenarios that could play out in the ensuing months.
1. ANC retains power with a decreased majority
If the Tlokwe bi-election is anything to go by, the ANC could see its majority in parliament reduced to 53%. The ruling party barely squeezed past the post to win the ward in 2013 with a reduced majority down from 90% in 2011. In this scenario, a weakened ruling party will continue to govern but face enormous pressure in the House of Assembly when it comes to passing legislation. It will thus still need support of smaller opposition parties in order to govern. The only caveat on this scenario is the potential post-Mandela gain from the party’s association with Madiba. With Long Walk to Freedom a box office hit in South Africa, the ANC may yet confound its critics. The post-Independence Congress Party of India managed to stay in power for 25 years. With a Gandhi-like father figure in Mandela, the ANC is likely to do the same.
2. ANC enters a centre-left coalition
Newcomer on the block Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) look set to benefit from the ANC purge of the ultra-leftist Julius Malema from his controversial leadership of the ANCYL. The shrude and politically astute politician has run a bruising Post-Marikana campaign that could see the EFF garner a massive bounty of seats currently occupied by ANC leftist stalwarts. Conservative estimates are that the party will fair as well, if not better than the previous newcomer, COPE. However in the labour unrest climate of today, anything could happen. A protest vote by workers against a range of ANC scandals including Nkandla, Guptagate and a groundswell reaction by voters against the excesses of the Zuma administration could leave the EFF in a position to be the deal-brokers in a centre-left coalition that results in the ANC sharing power with other left-leaning parties. One of the obvious concerns from an economic stand-point is how such a coalition will resolve differences in economic policy. The EFF currently favours bringing an end to market capitalism and the creation of a command economy under a centralised state.
3. ANC enters a social democratic coalition.
If the EFF are not the joker in the pack, then this emerging social democratic coalition could really upset the ruling party at election time. Newly formed Agang which means “build” in Sesotho, promise renewal and a return to the homespun values of black consciousness leader Steve Biko and with Mamphela Ramphele at the helm of a political formation that may result in a women president, if not in this election, at least by the next general election in 2019, South Africa could see 50% of the electorate placing their crosses next to their choice in gender. In fact a female president could be within reach in 2014, and she may well be a surprise candidate. With the Democratic Alliance triumvirate of Helen Zille, Patricia de Lille and Lindiwe Mazibuko threatening to overturn the current emphasis on masculinity under Jacob Zuma, (the president has a millstone around his neck in the form of fallout from a failed rape-trial) the upset result could mean the DA and Agang carry the seats needed to form a social democratic coalition with smaller parties such as COPE and IFP. A social democratic coalition that retains elements of the market economy while offering welfare benefits to citizens may well gobble up what remains of the ANC centre when floor-crossing and jobs are on the line.
Whichever of the above scenarios play out, it is important to note that South Africa’s fledgling democracy has withstood many tests of its political will. Backed by a Constitution and Bill of Rights, the country is one of the few nations with a “We the People” Constitution. The post-Nelson Mandela era has ushered in the possibility that the rapidly developing country could join the ranks of the developed world in less than a decade. With growth on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange averaging 18% pa, South Africa’s thriving market economy may yet save the nation from the fate of its neighbours.
CAN you tell the difference, I know I can’t, but does it matter? With all the fuss about the breakaway of former ANC politico’s from the embattled ruling party and attempts to prevent the use of the word “congress” to describe another political party, one can only wheep at the flagrant discregard being shown to the constitution which unequivicolly protects political expression such as freedom of association and other rights one would normally take for granted in a democracy.
Will the ANC act to prevent the use of the term people, democracy and revolutionary, or worker being used as a moniker? The case being made by the flailing ruling party doesn’t make any sense, but it does avoid the problem of the Congress of the People Party who don’t like the People of the Congress Party, getting out of hand.