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There is a third way — open letter to the many downtrodden and disappointed ANC voters

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Boitumelo Mpakanyane is Head of Internal Democracy at Rise Mzansi.

We have seen the rapid emergence of single-issue parties, serving narrow bases, intent and determined to create a South Africa wrought with division because there can only be an ‘us’ when there is also a clearly identifiable ‘them’.

Finding a true political alternative in a fractured opposition is at the top of many South Africans’ minds, and for those who for the first time in a long time will not be voting for the ruling party. South Africans have a long and complex relationship with the ANC, however, were the ANC a person, the best way to describe this relationship would be “abusive”.

This is despite people like you and me continuously placing our trust in the ruling party, hoping it would one day self-correct as promised and put the country before the ANC. But they have instead continued to display a disdain for us, the people who have empowered them to govern. Despite what the pundits would say however, disaffected and disappointed ANC voters are not stupid; in fact, voters are far more considered than the commentators think.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC support plummets to 33%, but it is still likely to form a government next year, new study finds

The prevailing criticism of ANC voters is that supporters of the ruling party remained invested in it due to a blind nostalgia and thoughtless emotional bond to the party. But there’s far more to this — we know that for a very long time, the ANC was the sole occupant, last vestige and custodian of South Africa’s moral political centre.

We know that only the ANC espoused a commitment to inclusive and transformative politics, rooted in the belief that, in spite of our history, no one’s circumstances should doom them to a life devoid of dignity. That, in fact, because of our history, we should legislate the practice of lifting as we rise.

However, in the not-too-distant past, the once beloved liberation party simply stopped liberating. In an ongoing series of acts that violated the social and political contract that once existed between the ANC and its people, we have been forced to divorce and divest from this rotten shadow of a once-respected movement.

The existential political crisis we are seized by has been worsened by a fractured opposition that provided no real alternative. When we yearned for a political alternative with the potential to unite all South Africans behind the dream of a better life for all, not just for some — we came up empty.

Instead, we have seen the rapid emergence of single-issue parties, serving narrow bases, intent and determined to create a South Africa wrought with division because there can only be an “us” when there is also a clearly identifiable “them”.

These divisive actors have weaponised ethnicities, resulting in an upsurge of racial and ethnic nationalisms, and misguided and ill-informed xenophobia with corruption being the poisoned thread tying them all together.

Now, there is a third way — in that same sensible centre, there exists a new, inclusive political alternative working hard to build a new coalition with the people.

This way knows that if servant leadership and integrity do not exist at the root politics, then no amount of innovative policy will deliver the much-needed political overhaul desperately sought by South Africans. One led by individuals who possess the skills, experience and will to create a safe, prosperous, equal and united South Africa in a single generation — but at the risk of this being flagged as a marketing piece, I must now place my bias aside.

Instead, I implore you to subject those who court your vote to the following tests and assess their commitment to real, ground-up social, economic and political reforms.

A true political alternative must understand that well-being and the family, as the root of all the institutions in society and of individuals, must be the end that it works to achieve. It must ensure that care is rooted in the practice of all institutions in society, from government to civil society, business and politics.

It must demonstrate a true commitment to cultivating an involved citizenry, rooted in a willingness to be subjected to public accountability and scrutiny without waiting for sweeping electoral reforms and distant political shifts before answering to its stakeholders.

It must understand that core to South Africa’s success is a professionalised, capable but also a depoliticised public service that has the capacity to provide reliable and uninterrupted public goods to South Africans. It must place integrity and honesty at the centre of its governance.

The third pillar of any real alternative must be a commitment to the enabling of an economy that creates a shared prosperity where all South Africans are empowered with the necessary skills and are presented with opportunities to contribute to a South Africa where everyone benefits from the wealth of our country. A South Africa rooted in sound economic management and coherent policy to build a modern, sustainable, inclusive and competitive industrial and knowledge economy.

Finally, any purported alternative must acknowledge the importance of nation-building, rooted in the understanding of the strength of our diversity but also the challenges that come with it.

Such an alternative must understand the potential for national excellence to unite South Africans, and through its leadership, raise the standard of public leadership and give South Africans a shared national mission of pursuing excellence at all levels. DM

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  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    “we know that for a very long time, the ANC was the sole occupant, last vestige and custodian of South Africa’s moral political centre.”

    “However, in the not-too-distant past, the once beloved liberation party simply stopped liberating.”

    I am amazed at the deluded lies ANC supporters try to convince themselves of. The arms deal happened 1999, and from there it pretty much went downhill. Latest by 2007 when Zuma became president, the ANC was a organization more interested in stealing and protecting its own cadres, than serving this country. ANC the moral center? Yeah right!

    • Ben Harper says:

      The arms deal was SIGNED in 99 but all of the ground work and bribes happened well before that. Funny how no one ever dare question where Mandela’s sudden tens of millions of rands came from

      • Michael Thomlinson says:

        I did, as I never understood how he went from being a prisoner with apparently no money to multi millionare. In the late 90’s and early 200’s it was inconceivable to think that Nelson Mandela had been invcolved in any devious dealings.

  • Anthony Kearley says:

    Do I understand this article to envision a middleground, multiracial party with a moral compass, but then somehow looks straight past the DA? Sort of like starving atop a basket of bread because the croissants never arrived…

  • jcdville stormers says:

    I think what the article is saying is that south africans must start looking to work together

  • Johan Buys says:

    When we have a color-blind option the ANC is dead. That is hard when almost everything said and written in politics is done as a play-to-the-audience game. All the parties play the race / economics card. (which amounts to the same thing). Why? It resonates with the audience.

    Where are our churches’ voices? Stand up like in the old days and preach that voting for corruption is wrong. No need to prescribe who else. Churches are by country mile a bigger voting block than for example the fractured unions.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      Have you noted the quality of many of the ‘churches’ in South Africa lately? We’re also far from having colour-blind voting in SA, so I just hope that Rise is able to take the votes of disgruntled ex-ANC supporters and even those still loyal to the ANC, but who know that its now little more than a Ponzi scheme for the elite.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Why does your party refuse to show its cards before the election, to hide what you are planning to do. If you were really serious and honest with people you want to vote for you will be clear on your mandate. Perhaps you are really planning a coalition with the EFF/ANC and are placed to do so? Your lack of clarity is not encouraging

    • Boitumelo Mpakanyane says:

      We haven’t hidden or been opaque about our intentions at all. I was on Newsroom Afrika just the other night saying that our focus is taking our political proposition to the people but we have also on many occasions said publicly that we would never bring the ANC back into government through the back door. Our criticism of pre-coalition arrangements has been a criticism of their founding intentions and how they lack a solid governance agenda. We’ve never were and are not averse to partnership but that partnership can’t just be informed by the removal of the ANC. As urgent as that is, it doesn’t constitute a governance agenda.

      Secondly, we’ve never contested public office, we have an untested mandate and are working to spread our message and get a sense of our support and why people support us. You have to first coalesce with the people before you enter pre-election arrangements in smoke-filled rooms. We’re not going to apologise for being sincere in our approach.

  • Michael Thomlinson says:

    “This is despite people like you and me continuously placing our trust in the ruling party, hoping it would one day self-correct as promised and put the country before the ANC”.
    Correction: it should be “people like ME”. Millions of thinking SA’s, in the last few years, have not placed their trust in the ANC but the sheep with all the facts staring them in the face have continued to keep this mafia organization in power with the idea that voting for any party with whites involved in it would take the country back to apartheid. What hogwash. You got what you voted for but unfortuantely dragged us thinking people along with you. So who is this 3rd force?? Why not name them clearly in the article?

    • Boitumelo Mpakanyane says:

      I last voted ANC in 2019, admittedly eroneously, in the wake of Ramaphoria, having voted for other parties before then. Are you imagining away the other 57,5% of voters who also voted ANC in that election?

      The article was directed at ANC voters and but non-ANC voters to humanise and give complexity to ANC voters. Whether you like it or not, no other political party has been able to convene society around itself like the ANC. The DA has failed to accept the reality of this country’s diversity and that race may play a role in informing people’s experiences – thus moving further right. The EFF has never been a viable alternative for voters in the sensible centre for obvious reasons and the ANC in becoming a criminal cabal has vacated the centre.

      The third way I speak of is obviously RISE Mzansi, the author details explain that I am in the National Leadership of RISE Mzansi.

  • Lyn Scheibe Scheibe says:

    I really like these guys. However, this article is a bit academic and airy fairy for me, and possibly any grass roots supporter. I’d like to read more practical, on the ground, basic stuff they have to offer.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Hi Boitumelo, I see that you’re online and responding to comments – congrats, never seen any other party do that before! Please can you outline your key policies for us here? Where do you stand on the economy? What would you change to things like mining policy to encourage investment? Ditto for manufacturing, power etc. Given the state of our water, power and logistics infrastructure – looted and ruined by the ANC – how would you propose turning these around? And finally, whisper it, but how would you deal with a union movement that will resist any and every attempt at meaningful economic reform, lest it impacts on their power (they long ago tossed worker rights out the window in pursuit of naked power and wealth).

    • Karl Sittlinger says:

      And while you are at it, please comment on your procurement policy plans, cadre deployment and accountability, all topics that the ANC has been using to destroy this country for the last 20 years or so.

      • Rod H MacLeod says:

        He can’t do that. What these ANC spin-off bulldust parties know in their heart of hearts is that the deployment of corrupt ANC cadres throughout our once effective civil service and throughout our once thriving SOEs is so utterly complete and embedded that no change of ruling party will be able to dislodge this clan of hyenas that is feeding on the South African cadaver.

        • Boitumelo Mpakanyane says:

          Except I’ve just done it. RISE Mzansi is not a spin-off of any party, our leadership team is comprised of leaders from business, civil society, community based organisations with one former politician in our National Leadership Collective (Makashule Gana from the DA).

          My background is elections management and legal practice but I see the object of the article has gone over your head.

          You should really be more considered before making sweeping ad-hominem attacks or at least become better informed before you do. Our chief priority is to remove this cabal from government.

    • Boitumelo Mpakanyane says:

      Hi Dee Bee, please excuse my late response. I’m not an economist so I’ll do my best to translate our positions but in essence our industrial growth strategy will hinge chiefly on increasing valued added exports which will obviously require a strengthening of industrial and manufacturing potential with a prioritisation of infrastructure investment to create an enabling environment. We will exploit natural strengths (existing and potential).

      Incestuous union dynamics are at the centre of many of our crises. We have to first dislodge the ANC, insulate the public administration from politics, review executive appointment powers. Unions are afforded the ability to strangle industries because their relationship with the ruling party allows it.

      On corruption, we would decentralise the appointments of SOE boards, prioritising merit and limiting the degree of political interference, professionalise and depoliticise the public administration so any procurement reforms can be effective. This means eradicating cadre deployment – RISE Mzansi is actually currently holding an open nomination process for MPs and MPLs, please nominate!

      We will reform public procurement, implementing transparent, centralised and blockchain driven digital procurement systems for bulletproof audit and oversight capabilities. We would also make the publication and disclosure of major procure decisions compulsory save for in instances where it contravenes a legitimate purpose such as criminal investigations.

    • Boitumelo Mpakanyane says:

      Finally, we are big proponents for some big electoral reforms. Mainly in the form of a mixed system comprising of 300 seats in the NA constituted by a multi-member constituencies and the remaining 100 being PR seats (the Constitution require a proportionally representative outcome.

  • Anthony Kearley says:

    Could you please clarify your party’s position on BEE and its iterations. Do you champion colourblind multiracial society or will you support racially based quota systems in education / employment / businesses ?

  • Ingrid Kemp says:

    It is disappointing to see how many intelligent people jumped on this article and drew the wrong conclusions. I believe that Boitumelo, as a journalist, was trying to express a viewpoint and not do the usual party political article. As JCdVille says “we must learn to work together”. My personal viewpoint is that we are delusional if we think anything else will work. The fact that the EFF took an ANC stronghold in the Western Cape is frightening. I am following Rise Mzansi with great interest. One person (remember Helen Suzman) can make a difference.

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