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Politics of the motley ‘moonshot’ crew don’t align with that of the majority of South Africans

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Zukiswa Pikoli is Daily Maverick's Managing Editor for Gauteng news and Maverick Citizen where she was previously a journalist and founding member of the civil society focused platform. Prior to this she worked in civil society as a communications and advocacy officer and has also worked in the publishing industry as an online editor.

Nothing in these parties’ track record shows a commitment to the betterment of all South Africans’ lives and not only to that of their constituents.

Over the past few months much has been said about the “moonshot pact”, seemingly led by DA leader John Steenhuisen, through which a group of opposition parties want to unseat the ANC and enter into a coalition government after next year’s elections.

The parties now involved are the DA, IFP, Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, United Independent Movement (UIM), Spectrum National Party (SNP) and the Independent South African National Civic Organisation.

What’s interesting about this motley crew is that they hardly represent the majority of South Africans. Collectively, they hold 27.8% of the vote from the 2019 election, and two – the SNP and UIM – were only launched in 2020.

By now it is clear to most people that the ANC is doing an abysmal job of both running the country and safeguarding South Africans’ rights, guaranteed in the Constitution. In fact, the Constitution is looking rather battered and bruised at the moment from challenges to its ethos and the trampling of the rights it enshrines.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The real moonshot would be DA inviting Maimane, Phalatse and others back as party leaders

But let’s get back to the curious case of the moonshot pact, which is being modelled on the Codesa negotiations of 1991 that eventually birthed our democracy. The convention to establish the pact this week was even held where the Codesa talks took place – the former World Trade Centre in Kempton Park.

The stark difference is that the seminal Codesa negotiations were led by political giants such as Nelson Mandela, Chris Hani and Helen Suzman, and the parties and organisations that gathered represented the majority of South Africans. Then Chief Justice Michael Corbett, described by Mandela as “independent, courageous and uncompromising”, chaired the proceedings, along with fellow judges Ismail Mahomed and Piet Schabort.

Looking at the composition of the parties in the pact, it occurs to me that they represent narrow, conservative and single-issue mandates. Their “pact” seems like nothing more than a power play, using the very real issue of a failed ANC government that has our people on their knees.

Nothing in these parties’ track record shows a commitment to the betterment of all South Africans’ lives and not only to that of their constituents. If these parties have not managed to garner the support and trust of the people in all this time, what makes them think voters will suddenly trust them now?

If the rightful ousting of Jacob Zuma taught us anything, it’s that it is dangerous to coalesce around a single cause without a plan of what comes next and who is to be entrusted with that “next”. Perhaps I am being too hasty in dismissing this rather uninspiring crew, but their politics have yet to align with mine or that of the majority of South Africans. The attempts at coalition governance even at local level among some of them have failed.

Steenhuisen has said that “this pact is not for politicians” but “must be owned by the people of South Africa”. If this is true, at the centre of their discussions should be the achievement of social cohesion and the institution of stringent measures for leadership to be accountable to all the people of South Africa.

It cannot only be about luring power away from one or the other political party. Instead, it should be about using that power to be responsive to our country’s needs. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.

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  • Bick Nee says:

    So your suggestion is…?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    The only reason they don’t represent the majority is because the majority sadly couldn’t vote their way out of a paper bag.

    It’s a tragedy for the majority and a tragedy for the country. If the ANC could just educate a few people they’d be gone in the next election.

    …and one wonders why they don’t educate. Not.

  • Ben Harper says:

    Maybe you should just stick to taking photos

  • Dave Gould says:

    Very true Zikosi, they don’t, the majority’s politics align with the ANC. So tell me, how did that work out for you ?

  • Glyn Fogell says:

    A very cynical view, but understandable. Right now, it’s almost a case of “any port in a storm”. We have reached a point in SA politics where it is vital to get new voters on board with a vision of an alternative to the current (mal)administration that we have had for too many years. It’s also a time to give voters who abstain, because voting hasn’t made a difference in the past, an alternative to voting along “traditional” lines. Loyalty to the ruling party hasn’t worked out and “a better life for all” hasn’t played out in far too many municipalities.
    If the players in the pact can put party politics to one side and agree on how to deliver vital services to the population of this country, then we stand a chance. The reality of the situation is that it cannot be fixed overnight after so many years of neglect, and with a sadly devalued currency. Patience of the electorate after 2024 will be sorely tried, but maybe there’s some low-hanging fruit to show what can be achieved.
    Thin down the Administration and make up a cabinet of effective people, take advice from people with proven macro-economic knowledge and experience, and be open and honest when talking to the electorate. Appoint on merit and not for political expediency; that could be a stumbling block in a coalition where there is no current maturity level in coalition politics.
    And be decisive!

  • Shan Best says:

    …” at the centre of their discussions should be the achievement of social cohesion and the institution of stringent measures for leadership to be accountable to all the people of South Africa.” But this is exactly what they are doing. Suggest you read the article in today’s DM. As far as your comment that none of the parties have done anything for your people, informed voters will vote for the only party with a great track record in service delivery, the DA. SURELY that’s what it’s all about? DA spends 73% of it’s budget in CT on the poor! Service delivery = competence and honesty and non-racism. Do yourself a favour and read the DA’s manifesto on their website. Once you have informed yourself, I look forward to reading a more balanced article from you.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Hard to disagree with you on most of the parties, except for the DA. You cannot claim that their interests are limited to whites and ‘coloureds’ when thousands of black South Africans vote for them. Their voters are truly representative of our diversity, unlike the ANC, which 99% black. In fact, it’s the ANC’s policies which does not reflect the reality of our country. The DA’s neo-Liberal almost Libertarian ideological drift to the right will have to be tempered by the inclusion of civil society leaders, like the UDF of the eighties. Let’s hope that happens because we cannot survive another 5 years of the ANC.

  • Denise Smit says:

    You misrepresent the facts – it is disturbing. Helen Sussman may have been a big personality, but she was in charge of a small party – the Progressive Party. The DA is the official opposition at this stage which makes it much bigger than the Progressive Party. This gathering of diverse political party is not conservative and narrow minded. But you would like to put it that way. It seems that politics talk today is playing into the hands of the EFF and ANC – in portraying any alternatives negatively. What does the ANC and EFF achieved so far apart from causing the country to be a failed stated with hatred infused rethoric? Do you have a alternative or must we still vote ANC EFF failure and division politics. How absurd your suggestion. Denise Smit

    • Ben Harper says:

      One cannot expect a balanced view from someone who prides herself in being a “activist and journalist”, one simply cannot be both and offer any kind of unbiased opinion or report

  • Beverley Roos-Muller says:

    That so many readers don’t like the sentiments of this article does not make it inaccurate. This ‘men only’ lineup is unbelievably uninspiring; not least because it contains the least inpiring leader of the DA (former PFP) in decades, ‘Roadkill’ Steenhuisen, whom no self respecting woman would vote for. (Not all DA leaders are hopeless; the CT mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has done well).
    That said, there are other options. A government of national unity, as evidences in many democracies, is a better option and would also represent a far greater proportion of South Africans. This group of no hopers is a lost cause; if you think it is, then welcome to a world of magical thinking and Easter bunnies.
    Dr Beverley Roos-Muller

    • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

      👍

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      These “no-hopers” are polling at 50% in Johannesburg. The DA brought two women leaders (Federal Chairperson and Chief Whip) to the negotiations, and there were others involved. It just so happens that the leaders of each party are men, which presents unfortunately in a photo op. The ANC fares no better, and the EFF has no women to speak of. Please engage with the politics, in other words play the ball and not the player. Steenhuisen’s remark that you referred to was unfortunate and ill-advised, yet it is never considered that his ex-wife was allegedly a dysfunctional alcoholic who drove one of Steenhuisen’s daughters to rehab. He’s a person with his own story, as well as a professional politician.

  • Meirion Griffiths says:

    So, you argue that our citizens will be better off with an incompetent, self-serving, kleptocratic political party? Granted, in a publication the quality of DM, we should introduce discerning views to broaden the discussion, but this article is just intellectually bereft.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    I’m glad this has finally got onto the website after it appeared in the DM168 on Saturday, so I can add my comment to the others below.

    Frankly DM editor, if this is the best one of your journalists can do then I am seriously considering removing myself from your membership. It is one of the most disgraceful articles by one of your people I have seen in your paper for a long long time. This person should not be described as a ‘journalist at Maverick Citizen’ but rather a ‘propagandist for the ANC’ or a ‘hater of the DA’. Nothing less.

    As others have said below, for her to accuse the DA of ‘only looking after the betterment of all South Africans’ lives and not only to that of their constituents’ is a total and utter lie. Of course, she means only the DA’s voters, not anyone else. Well, she should get off her backside and come down to the Cape from her Joburg eyrie and visit any of the informal settlements around the city – which are getting bigger and bigger by the week thanks to the Eastern Cape and other economic refugees running away from her darling ANC’s incompetence and corruption – and see how many services they get out of our rates. She might also see how her ANC darlings are keeping the important things like railways as useless as possible down here so that her mates who own minibus taxis can keep making money.

    But I won’t hold my breath that we’ll ever see her down here! The truth would hurt too much…

  • Sara Gon says:

    What are your politics, Zoliswa/

  • WS 95 says:

    I would suggest that you are way to presumptions to make the statement below. The parties you dismiss obtained, by your account 27.8% of the vote. On what basis can you make a wide ranging statement like this :

    “Perhaps I am being too hasty in dismissing this rather uninspiring crew, but their politics have yet to align with mine or that of the majority of South Africans.”

    Whist the coalition’s politics do not align with your own, who is to say that a majority of South African do not find a home in this alliance. We have tried the ANC for nearly 30 years and even the most onesided commentators would agree that the ANC has failed by almost every measure.

    Shoddy headline, that shows the authors contempt of a new enterprise, which actually does have the voter’s best interest at heart. The DA does seem to be open to holding lesser positions in the interests of the whole. Something the ANC could never contemplate, and which will lead to their demise if not in 2024, soon thereafter.

    Not sure why an article like this gets airtime – unless the DM now an ANC mouthpiece!

  • Jens von Delft says:

    At this stage it really can’t be that much about politics anymore but about rooting out corruption and effective, accountable governance first and foremost.

  • Theresa Avenant says:

    The best part of this article is the commentary. Well done guys.

  • Jack Russell says:

    I’m shocked that you should publish such stunningly ignorant nonsense, the base of which I would guess is reactionary anti white ignorance. Motley? Nothing for the benefit of citizens?
    Is she unable to see the differences between the DA run Cape and anything the ANC touches? What is this silly woman, an EFF member?

  • Jack Russell says:

    My comment disappeared. Please reinstate it.

  • Elizabeth Jansen van Vuuren says:

    Wow these comments. So over the top angry and the two mentioning the journalist by name could not even get it right….Zikosi? Zoliswa? Eish.
    We need serious discussion not vitriol.
    And basic respect.
    As for my view of the article, Zukiswa Pikoli’s assessment of what the DA has achieved for the people of Cape Town as a whole may or may not be fair, but otherwise there is merit in much of what she has to say. In particular that we all need to be thinking further than unseating the ANC as governing party – or at least sole governing party.

  • A Concerned Citizen says:

    Written like someone who has never bothered to actually read the DA’s Social Justice policy (the non-racial reply to BBBEE which actually targets disadvantaged people) or scrutinize their budgets where they do govern… 73% of the Cape Town budget has been spent on critical infrastructure for low-income communities, which are not traditional DA voters according to you. Except they are seeing service delivery and have turned blue. And this is certainly not where taxes are being collected nor where party funding or support is coming from. Please try stay objective – you are a journalist.

  • Sally Laurens says:

    Yet another article taking a biased view of DA achievements. Why does EVERY DM journalist ignore what the DA has done in the municipalities that it governs (when unhindered by ANC efforts to derail change)?
    DA has uplifted lives in the areas where it has control, especially amongst the poor. This is not an easy task as they first have sweep out the corruption and nepotism, hire qualified people, try to re-allocate funds to areas which are in most urgent need. It takes time, in this country. At least acknowledge that DA is DOING something about it. Way, way more than anyone else is. If there are any success stories about what ANY party is doing for the people in the country, then, DM, please share it. We need to know what works, so that we can apply lessons learned.

  • Louise Wilkins says:

    Do yourself a favour and read the DA’s manifesto on their website.
    Very disappointed in your article.

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