Let op­po­si­tion par­ties unite to curb ANC

Mean­ing­ful co-op­er­a­tion can pre­vent rul­ing party gov­ern­ing in all nine prov­inces

Finweek English Edition - - Letters -

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?

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