THE LOSS of the Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay metros, means all major South African centres with the exception of Durban, Bloemfontein and Kimberley are now controlled by the opposition Democratic Alliance. It is a major upset for the ANC, a political movement which has ruled South Africa for the past two decades. Having once stood on the shoulders of giants such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, the party is squandering its struggle legacy under Jacob Zuma.
It is no secret that the country’s proportional political system has delivered a stinging defeat for Zuma. Metro government, alongside provincial government, compete with national government and thus allow a semblance of regional autonomy. The situation is akin to a trilateral democratic order — or having a Republican Senate and a Democratic House of Representatives, and also a conflicted executive President — except here we see the metro system paving the way for future DA control of the provinces, and an overdue national renewal, come the national elections.
South Africa’s National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, although both ANC strongholds, could very well succumb to the strange situation today, in which the blue machine of the DA, has an erstwhile voting partner in the red EFF at municipal level. The DA has entered a number of coalitions with smaller parties such as COPE, IFP and UDM.
Increasingly under siege, from the party’s own ranks, and traditional partners such as the SACP, the beleaguered Zuma administration has chosen to deflect criticism following the election, with another Nenegate, followed by more trade deals. Thus in the awkward Janus masked double-step of JZ, the administration is selling trade to appease the middle class, whilst paradoxically attacking the party’s own finance minister, apparently to show the masses that Number 1 has a grip over the democratic ‘revolution’.
One could not make up this kind of formulaic Marxist illogic, even if one were a beret wearing, champagne drinking activist in birkenstocks . The result is an ideological vacuum which is also reflected in the liberal opposition’s dependence on the far-left, and surely the demise of the very modus operandi which created the ANC?
That the latest moves against finance minister Pravin Gordhan emanate from within the ANC top brass is clear. Although Zuma has repeatedly stated that he is powerless in the face of the Hawks investigation, it is the ANC which needs to account for the manner in which the investigative entity, once known as the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) or Scorpions, was turned from an independent investigative unit into a mere political lapdog.
The DSO was once a unit of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa, a multidisciplinary agency that investigated and prosecuted organised crime and corruption. In order to protect Zuma from the Shaik investigation, and various related scandals, it was the ANC which decided to merge the Scorpions with the SA Police Service. The Khampepe Commission, thus drastically reduced its power, and effectively placed the unit under the national executive, Quo Vadis Zuma?
Although many ANC veterans are extremely vocal over the antics of the President, who is embroiled in a number of serious controversies, including allegations of graft and sexual impropriety which refuse to go away, none appear to see the irony. Even with Sipho Pityana launching a stinging attack on the President, at the funeral of Eastern Cape ANC stalwart Makhenkesi Stofile, one can only wonder how it is possible that the president who is increasingly seen as a liability, is still in charge. This despite efforts at damage limitation, which have sent Zuma on a host of trade missions, the latest being his attendance at TICAD, followed by a trip to China.
PROPORTIONAL representation, a system adopted by South Africa in 1994, guarantees minority parties are included in the political dispensation. It works for small parties such as Agang, Cope and PAC who all might have failed dismally if the old ‘first past the post’ Westminster System was still in effect, but does it work for micro parties, those parties which get below 30 000 seats?
Currently it takes anywhere between 37 000 and 50 000 votes to gain a seat in the 400 seat National Assembly. In a formula not disclosed to the public by the IEC, the votes of parties which failed to gain these figures are re-allocated. The PAC for instance would not have gained a seat if the crucial 50 000 votes per seat was cast in stone, and some may argue that doing this strengthens democracy by seperating the wheat from the chaff, but does it?
An ideal political system would be where each and every citizen was represented, for instance direct democracy. With the rise of electronic voting system, a future in which everyone votes on the bills which get passed in parliament, and where political parties are able to canvass the opinion of their members rapidly and without ignoring them for 5 years as most parties are want to do, is not out of the bounds of possibility.
Let’s look as some of the parties which gained votes but still failed to make it into parliament.
Below 30 000 seats
Al Jama-ah 25 976
Minority Front 22589
United Christian Democratic Party 21 744
Azanian People’s Organisation 20 421
Bushbuckridge Resident’s Association 15 271
Independent Civic Organisation 14 472
Patriotic Alliance 13 263
Below 10 00 seats
Workers and Socialist Party 8331
Ubuntu Party 8234
Kingdom Governance Movement 6408
Front National 5138
United Congress 3136
Keep it Straight and Simple 4294
People’s Alliance 1671
THE “revenge of the middle class”* has turned into a fiasco. Instead of national cohesion we now have an internicine class war between wealthy property owners and their poorer cousins. The only thing that will save us, is acceptance that nothing stands between them and the street, nothing accept a decent wage and a job, and that means you, the working class, full stop.
The insane notion that a middle class can be created on the seat of a property boom, has merely shifted the struggle for equality to a different platform. Middle class values are nothing but bunk created by real estate agents and wealthy advertising executives who believe that equality can be created out of branding, products and brochures from Constantia.
A short while ago, progressives believed that human rights could bring people together, a mere slip of paper, a document could forge the nation. Not so, since when push comes to shove, it is the middle class that is going to give way. For South Africans to truly feel as though they belong, we need more than empty promises of equity and land. What we need is a guarantee from the state against the liklihood of ever becoming indigent, homeless, a wage slave.
Like so many social democrats, I believe the only thing that can accomplish this is social welfare, a living wage. Whether this wage is paid by the state or a large corporation is none of my concern; what we all require then, is reason not to wage war against those who would starve us into submission, trade our land for foreign investment and make off with the proceeds, while ignoring exploitation and profit-taking on the backs of the oppressed.
The working class will rise up and eat the middle class unless something drastic is done. Now is not the time to trust spin doctors and politicians who recite the cant of the bourgoisie, rather it is time to forge a wider national unity, a greater class of South African, created from the guarantee of a basic income grant for all.
* Cape Times lead story of the day.