Let opposition parties unite to curb ANC
Meaningful co-operation can prevent ruling party governing in all nine provinces
DOES SOUTH AFRICA differ politically from Zimbabwe? Yes. Zimbabwe has been stuck with the same president for 29 years. SA has had three presidents since 1994. And all indications are that we’ll soon have our fourth one. With responsible opposition, co-operation after the election and the formation of COPE there’s also the definite possibility that the ANC’s monopoly on political power – unlike Zanu (PF)’s – can be broken.
In that regard, the formation of COPE is good for SA. The condition is that COPE shouldn’t merely rearrange the opposition votes. COPE must succeed in reducing the ANC’s huge majority. For that, the right image and market positioning are required.
A political party, like a new product, is only given the first few months to fix its image and market positioning. After that it’s very difficult to change an established image. My concern is that COPE isn’t succeeding in reaching the unemployed and the poor. That’s where the large numbers of votes lie.
There’s nothing wrong with holding your party’s first big meeting in Sandton. However, it does send out a message that your only market is the middle class and the so-called black diamonds. And if the Democratic Alliance leader then enthusiastically supports you at the start, that image is further strengthened among the poor and the unemployed. You’ll also be playing into the hands of the ANC, who immediately started calling COPE a “black DA”.
The poor and the unemployed are angry at the ANC because there are no houses and service delivery, but they’re blaming the “Mbeki” ANC for that. “Let’s give the ‘Zuma ANC’ a chance to solve the problems,” I hear them say.
If COPE is only going to be a middleclass party looking only for white and brown votes it will be a 10% party. It would still be good for SA – but it would mean the real power shifts in SA could only take place in five years’ time.
What’s possible now is that meaningful co-operation between opposition parties can prevent the ANC from governing in all nine provinces. DA leader Helen Zille says the DA can beat the ANC by itself in certain provinces and that it can win the 2014 election by itself. No opposition party can win by itself. The future will prove her prediction totally wrong.
We’re looking for a co-operation model that will produce more votes than the approach of one party on its own. The FF Plus’s co-operation model proposes all opposition parties must take part in the election under their own banners and in that way try to obtain the maximum number of votes against the ANC from their own niche markets.
Why will that model get more opposition voters to the polls? Because of the unique variety and composition of SA’s voting corps. That unique variety is seen in the fact that of the 30% opposition voters in the previous election, the DA received 12% of the votes. That means that less than half – 47 out of 107 – opposition MPs are currently DA members.
For example, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosutho Buthelezi gets votes against the ANC and for the IFP from traditional Zulu chiefs in the vast rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal. Those voters will rather stay away if the IFP isn’t on the ballot paper. The same goes for Bantu Holomisa of the UDM in the Eastern Cape.
Municipal by-elections show Patricia de Lille is currently drawing many votes on the Cape Flats and in the Northern Cape, which the DA’s Zille can’t get. According to those voters the DA has an image of “rich and remote” while De Lille is “one of us”.
The FF Plus get votes from Afrikaans voters who write letters about Afrikaans and complain that the Constitution makes no reference to Christianity and they will therefore stay away rather than vote for the DA.
By allowing all opposition parties to obtain the maximum support from their niche markets, the total number of votes for the opposition after the election will be considerably more than if voters could only vote for one party with a DA image.
After the election, those parties should work intelligently with one another and against the ANC.
With precisely that kind of co-operation model, Cape Town was kept out of the hands of the ANC after the previous local government elections. A voter votes for the party closest to his own values. That party then ensures those values are represented in a coalition. In that way the FF Plus played an important role in the Cape Metro council in keeping the ANC in opposition but also helped to prevent street names in Cape Town being hastily changed by the DA. By repeating that model throughout the country, several provinces and city councils can be kept out of the hands of the ANC in the future.
I clearly remember the picture on the TV in 2004 when Mbeki and Zuma triumphantly announced the ANC’s 70% election victory, their hands interlaced and raised above their heads. Lekota as number three in the ANC appeared on the TV with them. No political commentator could have foreseen the situation between those three top ANC leaders could have changed so drastically by 2009, a mere five years later. If it could change so much in five years, how much could SA change politically in another five years?