At long last, a real election....
This one might even be worth staying awake for!
Apr 10, 2011
Justice Malala: There was a time, not too long ago, when many of us political animals slept through elections. We could blather on as much as we liked, but the results of elections were certain: overwhelming ANC victories almost everywhere.
All that is changing, and it is not only the chattering classes saying so. The ANC itself is saying so. The local government elections on May 18 have suddenly become, well, elections. Power might be lost.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe went on an election walkabout in ANC strongholds in Worcester, Western Cape, last week, and realised what everyone has been telling the ANC all along: "The city of Cape Town is not there for the taking now, but I think the ANC has it within itself to prepare to win the province [in 2014]."
This statement would have been inconceivable from an ANC leader in the past. Today, there is virtually no one in the party, apart from those living in cloud-cuckoo-land, who would dispute it.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was told in no uncertain terms in Polokong on Thursday that the party had imposed a candidate on its members and voters would be going for an independent candidate. In many parts of the country, ANC members are canvassing for independent candidates after a surging feeling that provincial elites had imposed cronies on communities. In these areas, there is an election to be fought.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi put it eloquently last week: "We [the ANC] are going into elections with our tails between our legs, with our backs to the wall, because we have lost 1.17million jobs and 5.8million families are plunged into poverty."
For the first time, the ANC is going into an election having lost the moral high ground. The party of Nelson Mandela and Albert Luthuli now resembles something more like a corrupt, inept entity leading us towards a police state.
The ANC's leader, Jacob Zuma, is turning into its former leader, Thabo Mbeki: he is never here.
Zuma pronounces ineffectually from African Union meetings while his security cluster is on fire.
When he does pitch up in the country, as he did on Friday, he has nothing new to offer the ANC but fatuous comparisons between the ANC and God.
The Star reported that Zuma told three women at a home in Helenvale that the ANC and God were of the "same church". Is that supposed to be a vote puller?
Truth is, the ANC is rattled. This week the party brought out its big guns to campaign in Midvaal, a Gauteng municipality run by the DA.
Midvaal irks the ANC no end because, according to the Gauteng planning commission's quality of life survey, it is the province's top municipality. Its finances - 80% of its bills are paid versus 58% in Johannesburg - are in better order than those of ANC-led, municipalities.
Unemployment is at 26% whereas Johannesburg is at 41%. It is run by 29-year-old DA mayor, Timothy Nast.
DA mayor, Timothy Nast.
This is a municipality the DA is refusing to let anyone forget. The party uses it constantly to drive home its message that the ANC is incompetent. The ANC argues that it lost Midvaal because of infighting between local leaders. The bottom line, though, is that the figures presented by the DA are irrefutable. And the ANC is rattled by them.
Another area that the ANC is rattled about is Tshwane, where the party achieved a mere 56% compared with the DA's 31% in the last election. This might seem a wide margin, but if one adds the rest of the opposition to the DA's tally the difference becomes even smaller.
Tshwane is interesting because the ANC would have lost it 10 years ago had it not ensured that huge chunks of the ANC-voting North West province were incorporated into Tshwane. This sort of gerrymandering is happening again: the Metsweding district municipality is now part of Tshwane, delivering new voting fodder.
What now? Things are dicey in Eastern Cape, where the ANC is facing internal revolt over candidates' lists. Things are so bad that violence has been visited on provincial ANC leaders, some ANC members are in court accused of plotting murder and party members are taking it to court.
This opens the door for the opposition, the DA in particular, to make headway. Hence the irrational attacks of Julius Malema on Helen Zille. He made "monkey" references because he fears her. He, like his party, is rattled.
This makes for an interesting election indeed.