ANC supportes. Picture: REUTERS
ANC supportes. Picture: REUTERS

How do you renew and fix a broken country? As SA hurtles ever faster towards catastrophe, the answer to this question is the same as it has been throughout history: by strengthening democracy. The logical follow-up question then is: how do we practically strengthen democracy in the SA of 2019? The answer: by severely punishing the ANC at the ballot box and voting for the only viable alternative, the DA.

The entire point of living in a democracy is that it gives you the tools with which to hold your government accountable when they fail, oppress or steal from you. Political opposition, a free press and freedom of speech are the mechanisms by which you gather information on when the government has failed, oppressed or stolen from you. Once you’ve collected sufficient evidence of such crimes against the people, the next step is to use your right to vote to replace the governing party with a new government. And then the cycle begins anew, requiring as it does eternal vigilance against the government of the day.

SA is clearly at the point in the cycle where we have gathered overwhelming and incontrovertible proof that the ANC has criminally abused its near-monopoly on political power for decades. From the Arms Deal to Nkandla to the Guptas to Bosasa to the Gangster State, no honest person can argue against the ANC’s fundamental corruption. If you are guided by the tenets of democratic accountability, what should happen next is obvious: we must now use our democratic right to vote to peacefully get rid of the ANC.

This act of replacing a corrupt and failing government with an opposition government is at the very heart of democratic accountability. It is the ultimate expression of people’s power, and a right that generations of people the world over fought for over countless centuries.

Yet many of SA’s most vocal political commentators seem unable to grasp this crucial fact. We keep reading in different publications that the only way to fix SA is by doing the exact opposite of what democratic accountability demands. These commentators want us to shun and undermine accountability by re-electing a corrupt government with over 60% of the vote. In contrast to the most basic principle of democracy, we are asked to believe that SA is, in fact, doomed if the people dare to actually use their votes to kick out the thieves that stole our country.

All of these people make the same basic, flawed argument: “The ANC needs to win by a landslide so that Cyril Ramaphosa can fix the country.” This is despite the fact that in SA’s electoral system, you don’t vote for individuals; you only vote for parties. As a result, a vote for the ANC is not a vote for Ramaphosa — it is exclusively a vote for the ANC’s parliamentary list, which remains overwhelmingly populated by some of the most shameless thieves in the country.

But this dangerous argument is marked by an even deeper flaw than a mere failure to understand the country’s electoral system. These commentators continue to claim that only the ANC can fix the disaster it has created without even so much as discussing the possibility of instead replacing the ANC with an opposition government — as democratic accountability demands.

It is a lie by omission to pretend that there exists no democratic alternative in SA. The DA has proven time and again that it runs more effective administrations than the ANC ever could. Just a few days ago, the ANC-controlled National Assembly even commended the DA for the way in which it has achieved “massive feats” over the last decade in the Western Cape, including by engineering the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Democratic accountability hinges on judging parties based on what they actually deliver. On that score, the DA towers above all comers. But instead of comparing the ANC and DA’s track record on clean and effective governance — which would force them conclude that it is time to vote DA rather than ANC — the crowd of “bigger mandate” commentators rely on magical thinking. They judge the ANC not on the proven facts of its corruption and misrule, but based on what they wish some future ANC to be.

Believe this magical thinking at your own peril. A landslide victory for the ANC in the coming election will only serve to entrench corruption even further. It will confirm that the ANC can get away with murder; that the party will rule “until Jesus comes back” no matter how badly it damages our country.

The only way to fix and renew SA is to use your democratic right to elect a new government. The ANC is a spent force; the Ramaphosa delusion is just the last kicks of a dying horse. It is time to embrace the proven alternative offered by the DA. It is an alternative marked by an honest and capable state, guided by the rule of law and relentlessly focused on creating jobs and economic prosperity. Even more than that, by holding the ANC to account at this point in our history, a vote for the DA is a vote for democracy itself.

Dr Leon Schreiber
DA candidate for parliament