This is Part 2 of a three-part series. See part 1 here:
Several observations occur to me after reading the manifestos of the top three political parties in South Africa.
Firstly, few people probably actually read the manifestos, as Professor Steven Friedman has pointed out, so their impact on voting is limited. They are, however, an excuse to attract publicity in a big launch, where what the party leader says in a speech gets airtime and print media reaction.
Yet the manifestos can give important insights into the kind of thinking within parties on economic issues.
Though mostly not too badly written, the documents are not exactly thrilling reading. The ANC manifesto is 12,000 words long, 10 times as long as the Freedom Charter. The EFF manifesto is more than twice as long as the ANC’s manifesto and the DA takes 40,000 words to get its points across.
They differ in tone as well. The EFF manifesto sounds like it was dreamt up by students at the university canteen. The DA manifesto looks like it was drawn up by consultants who maximised their billable hours and I wouldn’t be surprised if the ANC manifesto was created by committee.
Secondly, manifestos can make some extraordinarily specific promises, especially if the party has no realistic possibility of being voted into power. Yet in making those promises, the party is indicating its position and can be held to that position. So if the DA opposes measures to remove protection for foreign investors, voters can hold the party to opposing such laws in Parliament.
Some proposals in the EFF manifesto are astoundingly specific.
“The EFF government will maximally build and support the cultivation and agro-processing of potatoes and tomatoes in the Namaqualand and Pixley regions and grapes in the Siyanda ZF Macau region in Northern Cape Province.” There are several other such statements.
Thirdly, as Prof Friedman has also pointed out, there is a difference between party and the party in government. The realities of governing can mean that promises made by the party simply cannot be kept by the party in government, because of pressure from civil society, other parties and financial markets.
Lastly, manifestos can also be quite unintentionally amusing. Some of the undertakings in the EFF manifesto often invite the exclamation, “Serious?”
One is the suggestion that R1-million be paid to any black student, South African or foreign, doing a doctorate at South African higher education institutions. “The EFF government will pay a once-off grant of R1-million to all black graduates pursuing doctoral studies at accredited institutions, including overseas students, by 2024.”
I can foresee some wild doctoral topics if this were ever legislated. Also, the stream of would-be doctoral students pouring into the country to take advantage of this offer would dwarf the migrant caravan that was said to be making its way through Latin America to the Mexican border with the US. DM
Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!
No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.
Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.
It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.
But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.
So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.
Adidas will cancel any player's sponsorship deal if it turns out they have anything to do with Scientology.