Op­po­si­tion is a bit­ter pill to swal­low

CityPress - - Voices -

The year 2016 started off bit­terly, with racism storms break­ing out coun­try­wide. This year has kicked off on a more com­i­cal note, with the ANC mak­ing a fool of it­self.

From its botched Twit­ter cam­paign, #WeAreANC, which gen­er­ated a slew of mock­ery from the pub­lic, to the Gaut­eng Liquor Board’s re­ver­sal of its de­ci­sion to ex­tend trad­ing hours for al­co­hol sales this week­end, as part of the ANC’s 105th birth­day bash – thereby quelling com­plaints that the cel­e­bra­tion would be a drink­ing binge – the ANC as­sumed the iden­tity of Mr Bean as it bum­bled its way into 2017.

But what took the cake was the ANC and the gov­ern­ment’s hys­ter­i­cal re­buke of Tsh­wane’s mayor, Solly Msi­manga, over his visit to Tai­wan. An event that should have been a foot­note on the in­side pages of re­gional news­pa­pers was turned into a na­tional dis­as­ter. Msi­manga was ac­cused of vi­o­lat­ing South Africa’s for­eign pol­icy and com­mit­ting trea­son. There were even calls for his diplo­matic pass­port to be re­voked.

As it turned out, Msi­manga had done noth­ing out­side of South Africa’s nor­mal re­la­tions with Tai­wan. These in­clude main­tain­ing an of­fi­cial li­ai­son of­fice there and send­ing del­e­ga­tions to the is­land.

This non­story tells us that the ANC is grap­pling with the idea of be­ing in op­po­si­tion in key mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, while at na­tional level it is un­able to find is­sues to use against its foes. Sad­dled with the bur­den of a scan­dal-prone pres­i­dent and riven with in­fight­ing, the ANC is be­ing out­boxed by nim­bler op­po­nents. Surely, five months af­ter the elec­tions, the ANC can find real con­cerns over which to hold the new ad­min­is­tra­tions to ac­count? There must be sit­u­a­tions where the DA is fal­ter­ing or mak­ing wrong pol­icy choices.

The ANC has ei­ther not ac­cepted the re­sult of Au­gust 2016, or it sim­ply does not know how to op­er­ate from the op­po­si­tion benches. It had bet­ter ac­cept the sit­u­a­tion and learn fast. The next mu­nic­i­pal poll, in 2021, is a long way off.

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