Opposition is a bitter pill to swallow
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.