Just a few years ago it was unthinkable to say that the post-liberation governing party of South Africa was heading for extinction. Some would have called that sacrilege. But nine years later it is all but a forgone conclusion. It is inevitable, and no one in the ANC is able to stop it.
The anti-Zuma mass marches across the country are speeding up the ANC’s demise. For they are not marches against Jacob Zuma alone, they are marches against his very elevation to power, and his entrenchment of power; aided and abetted by the ANC at every step of the way. The top leadership has done nothing to stop Zuma, and they will pay the highest political price.
The recent Cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma was the last straw that resulted in two rating agencies downgrading South Africa to junk status, but the reshuffle was more like the tip of an iceberg. The vast mass of Zuma’s sins lurk beneath the water. South Africa and the world know this. We know that his corrupt insider deals, capture of the state, manipulation of the police and prosecution, undermining of Parliament and zero policy direction for our economy all coalesce to paint the real picture of his terrible presidency. Yet the ANC stands behind him unwaveringly.
Many people are calling for Zuma to step down. But in fact, we should be calling for the ANC to concede that it has failed to live up to the promises it made in 1994, “a better life for all”. It has not made the lives of all South Africans at all better, in fact, it has dragged millions more into unemployment and poverty.
In 1964 Zambia gained independence from Britain and the United National Independent Party (UNIP) won pre-independence elections. Kenneth Kaunda was elected prime minister, and later that same year elected president after the country adopted the presidential system. Kaunda was again re-elected in 1968. In 1972 all political parties, except UNIP were banned in Zambia and Kaunda was re-elected unopposed in 1973, 1978, 1983 and 1988. Twenty seven years after independence, in 1991, Kenneth Kaunda and UNIP lost power to a unionist, Frederick Chiluba’s party. In the last elections in Zambia, UNIP got only 1% of the votes. What happened in Zambia last week, and to its opposition leader, is a story for another day but the decline of the liberator in Zambia from 1964 to 1991 is the real story. In 27 years, from hero to zero.
In 2019, it will be 25 years since the ANC took control of the country – I predict it will also be the end of it. The ANC will be severely wounded in 2019, as the people take their mass action from the streets today to the ballot box then.
After independence, Zambia adopted a left-wing economic policy. The economy was to some extent run by central planning, under five-year plans, and private companies were nationalised and incorporated into large state-owned conglomerates. The government’s goal was to be self-sufficient, which it sought to achieve through import substitution. At first the plan worked and the economy grew steadily, but in the mid 1970s the economy started to decline drastically. During the period between 1975 and 1990 Zambia’s economic output dropped by approximately 30%. The state was simply inefficient at running large industry.
There are many other examples of dying and deceased liberation movements because after taking over the country they committed two fundamental mistakes:
As a country we should be having a more serious debate, a preparation for the post African National Congress regime. At the centre of this debate is economic inclusion for many of our people who continue to swim in the sea of poverty, 23 years after democracy despite South Africa having resources that could feed all of them, and see our economy thrive. Zuma’s appetite to loot the state resources with impunity – to enrich his family and cronies is part of a bigger problem.
As opposition political parties we must become a political home/homes for many disillusioned voters. Over the years we have spent a lot of time talking about what the ANC is doing wrong, because we care about the future of our country and cannot stand to see the ANC destroy it. But this has often come at the cost of the airtime we need to show what we can and will do differently. I’ll be the first one to admit that as the DA, we can do more to convince disillusioned voters that a better future awaits us.
Many people want to know what we are doing for them, what we are going to do should they vote for us. We have done a lot where we are governing, but do not do enough to communicate our successes. This is not boasting, or bragging – but offering a real alternative and a home to people who are ready to make the courageous journey to cross the political divide. Our democracy cannot allow voters to be disillusioned and to stay away.
In 2014 there were about 33-million eligible voters, just over 25-million registered to vote and only 18.4-million voted. The ANC got just over 11-million of those votes which translated into 62% of those who voted. In actual fact, the ANC is governing with about 33% of the votes (if you use the total number of eligible voters in SA which is 33-million). This means that about 22-million South Africans who are eligible to vote didn’t vote for the ANC. That is not so say that they wouldn’t have voted ANC, or DA, but to say that there is no way to know and they didn’t support the ANC on the day. These are voters who have a voice, and a right to vote, and who need to find their political home. My biggest task now as the Leader of DA in the Western Cape is to pay less attention to the dying horse of the ANC and focus on building a new home for these voters.
Our country needs men and women of substance now more than ever, to stand together in the interest of the most vulnerable and future generations – this is what is at stake here.
But, let us be unequivocal: even if Zuma goes today, what will remain is the ANC that has made, supported, defended and placated Jacob Zuma. It will be an emaciated skeleton of its former self, left of only the yes-men and yes-women to corruption and illegality.
In the current patronage network within the ANC, no matter who takes over, the status quo will remain. The race between Cyril Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is inconsequential. It’s a distraction, a teaser. There is no rebirth for the ANC, for it has reached its end of days.
The rebirth approaching is for our beloved South Africa to redefine itself post-ANC. This a day fast approaching.
Our democracy thrives when power exchanges hands between political parties. It is time, South Africa, for us to make our democracy thrive. DM
Bonginkosi Madikizela acting leader of the DA Western Cape and Human Settlements MEC in the province
The air quality from pollution on a cruise ship can at times be worse than the world's worst cities.