SIKONATHI MANTSHANTSHA: The voting conundrum
Choosing who to vote for has never been as difficult as it is today. Finding leaders and policies worthy of my vote has never been this tough
In about 25 weeks, all citizens will have to make a choice about who should govern the affairs of our nation for the next five years. This is a ritual in which I have participated with religious regularity since I came of voting age. It has always been easy to make a decision about who to vote for. In that time, I have voted for three political parties.
But choosing who to vote for has never been as difficult as it is today. While all sorts of parties are punting themselves as the best choice, finding leaders and policies worthy of my vote has never been this tough.
Let’s start with what would seem to be the natural home of my vote — the ANC. This party has, on paper, the best policies to advance SA. The National Development Plan is a good but imperfect start. Many of the government policies that have been developed over the past 25 years have had a positive net effect on the lives of the overwhelming majority. The most important of these is the social security network that takes care of the basic needs of society’s weakest.
Having grown up in a poor household in the years preceding democracy and the ANC’s social security interventions, the difference is unmistakable. Just one example: this column is being typed in the homestead of my youth, on a cellphone under a bright electrical light instead of the paraffin lamps (called ufinyafuthi) my grandmother and I relied on back then. These handmade instruments, fashioned out of an old tin and piece of twine, emitted more smoke than light. My children don’t even know what finyafuthi looks like. Neither are the children of my unemployed neighbours as hungry as we were.
At the professional level, government intervention has forced the private sector to open opportunities to black people, which has expanded the black middle class. The economy has broadened enormously over the past 24 years of democracy and the tax base has widened, yielding more money to spend on education and other social goods.
I revolt at the thought that a vote for the ANC would be a vote for Gigaba, Zwane and those who looted Eskom and SAA
Taking these positive strides into consideration, overall the ANC would be the most deserving of my vote, particularly under Cyril Ramaphosa. But my whole being rebels at the thought that it would be a vote for Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, Malusi Gigaba, Mosebenzi Zwane and the people who looted PetroSA, Eskom and SAA.
Next candidate for my vote is the DA, whose electoral fortunes have been boosted by the ANC’s inefficiency and corruption under Jacob Zuma. But the DA seems hellbent on destroying itself. The combination of its muddy stance on key policies, such as BEE and land reform, together with its treatment of black leaders like Lindiwe Mazibuko and Patricia de Lille, makes one wonder if it can ever truly be a vehicle to advance the aspirations of the patriotic black middle class. Coupled with the naked ambition of people like Natasha Mazzone, and the hollow but preachy leadership of Mmusi Maimane, the party is no longer worthy of my vote.
Not the gumboots, please
I have not for a second contemplated giving my vote to the thugs who wear gumboots and overalls in parliament. They have reduced a key institution of our democracy to a source of embarrassment. The corruption of the ANC under Zuma would be like a practice for the real deal — just much bigger, more crass and more brazen. Ask the Limpopo municipalities that did business with On-Point Engineering.
Who else? The less said about Cope the better, and the IFP serves no purpose in parliament other than earning salaries for the cantankerous chief and his shrinking impi.
Bantu Holomisa is a good man, and has served the people with honour and dedication. Ideally you should always have him on your side. But there is no difference between Holomisa and the UDM, and without Holomisa there is no UDM. The UDM lacks both plan and strategy.
Enter Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his Content party. Thieves and narcissists would feel at home here. Motsoeneng’s party and the EFF should merge — they could call it The Grand Coalition for The Advancement of The Lootists. Gigaba could be asked to lead the coalition while Motsoeneng is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. A loota!