Does the DA really want to cast aspersions on both our highest court in the land and our Independent Electoral Commission? What exactly does that say about the very democratic project in which it itself participates? Should we also assume that our Parliament is also illegitimate, or are things in our country democratic only when it suits the DA and when it works for it?
This is a very dangerous trajectory for both Helen Zille and John Steenhuisen. Are you so cynical, so short-sighted, that you are prepared to cast the dye that states that both these fine institutions are compromised? Captured by the ANC, to use your language? In essence, that our democracy is done for. This is from the same people who call themselves parliamentarians — representatives of our people.
Just the other day, when the apex court found former president Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison, the court was the best thing since sliced bread. When it ruled in favour of the DA in a number of cases over the past few months, it was hailed as a beacon of independence.
And yet today there are allegations of the ruling party having a direct line to the apex court. Then, when the court in effect ruled against the ANC through the IEC ruling, the court was once again great and the ruling was welcomed by the DA. By the way, this is also the court that the DA relies on for its case brought against the IEC for opening up the registration of candidates again. Am I to take this as schizophrenia?
I’m sure you would all agree with me, even if you are racist or you hate the ANC and the direction the country has taken these past few years, surely casting aspersions on the Constitutional Court is cutting off your nose to spite your face? This is such a dangerous precedent to plant in the minds of our young people, first-time voters and people who want to participate in deciding on their destiny.
But no, it does not stop there. Helen Zille goes further and casts aspersions on our Independent Electoral Commission as well, with her lapdog Steenhuisen following suit. Seriously guys, the same IEC that has been led with distinction by eminent individuals over the years? That has never given us any reason to suspect that it is compromised and/or do the bidding of any political party?
This is the same IEC that accommodated the IFP at the very last second in 1994 to put it on the ballot. The same IEC that has always conducted itself honourably. That has managed the subsequent general elections, of which there have been no fewer than six over the past 27 years, freely and fairly.
This same IEC today, according to Zille, has now been captured by the ANC, so much so that the ruling party can influence the direction of the electoral commission. This allegation, as correctly pointed out by my friend JJ Tabane, means that electoral fraud or rigging has been the order of the day in our elections. I’m not sure I agree with him, but I know I disagree with Zille’s stance. Why? Because it is cynical and dangerous for our collective future.
Can it be that a ruling party can capture the IEC? Of course it can. Can it be that the ANC has a direct line to the apex court judges? Of course it can. But these are such serious allegations that one must demand, where is the evidence to prove this?
I, like many progressive democrats, have sworn to protect our democracy and our Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, and as such it is our collective duty to defend our institutions that are beyond reproach. And until such time that evidence is provided to the contrary, I make no apology for stating: shame on you Helen and John. For narrow party-political benefit, you are prepared to scupper all that so many have fought and died for.
The next time you so lightly make these serious allegations, think of the children and the impact it may have on their young minds. It reminds me of another defeatist argument, when it comes to Nelson Mandela. We might rejoice in the fact that so many young people at universities and institutions of higher learning have cast aspersions on Mandela as having been a sellout and someone more concerned with reconciliation with whites than the economic emancipation of us blacks, but you know and I know, this is cutting off your nose to spite your face.
For Mandela was so much more than just a reconciler — he was necessary at a given time and he was fallible, of course.
As I was thinking about these matters before putting pen to paper, I wondered about this concept of free and fair. What does it really mean? The overall mandate of the IEC, when all is said and done, is to provide free and fair elections. Meaning, the environment surrounding the elections must make people feel safe, the administration must be up to scratch, the political parties must preferably not engage in political violence and everyone must feel they can equally participate in such elections, whether it be through registering to vote or by running for public office.
This is, in the main, the mandate of the IEC. So, you try to get the elections postponed by the apex court since it is a constitutional matter, and because the IEC felt that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on all citizens, it will not necessarily be a free and fair environment. The apex court disagreed and instructed that the elections must go ahead on a date between 27 October and 1 November.
Fine, but the IEC then says, well, now that the matter has been settled by our court, it’s only right that we hold a registration weekend so that as many first-time voters as possible can register — and also because there have been some candidates who did not register on time. In support of a free and fair election, let’s allow them to complete this process too.
After all, why would anyone want to disagree with such an approach? Clearly, this straightforward reasoning does not hold: oh no, there’s a conspiracy at play here, according to Helen and John. So very disappointing.
So, before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, Helen and John, as Zizek keeps reminding us, THINK! DM