Local poll is looking strangely national
NOT long now and it will all be over. On Wednesday we vote and the childish squawking and moronic babble will be behind us.
As far as the campaigns went, well, here at the Mahogany Ridge it certainly hasn’t felt like a local local election, but rather a national referendum on President Jacob Zuma.
Zexit, you could say and the alternative, Texit – although some of the regulars believe the latter could well be redundant, as ZANC has already taken everything.
This is not, however, to suggest local issues haven’t been raised. Or rather, issues of national importance that could be considered local.
Far from it and there were certainly no shortage of such concerns, including the financial mismanagement of municipalities, the ongoing service delivery failures and the violent protests in this regard, our now brazenly corrupt public officials and the growing housing backlog.
As worrying as all these may be, they’re nowhere near as frightening as the education crisis, rising unemployment and the lack of job opportunities for the growing hordes of unskilled youth out there.
Interestingly, when the ruling party began its election campaign some months back, there were strong indications the ANC was going to play it safe and keep its president under wraps lest he embarrass the party.
Like say something off the cuff. In public.
Zuma’s image, you will recall, was absent from the T-shirts and posters the ANC dished out at the voter registration weekends, even in his “home base”, KwaZulu-Natal, and there was a perception Luthuli House had at last realised what a liability he could be.
Pundits pointed to the 2014 general elections where the Gauteng ANC had attempted to limit his participation on the campaign trail because, bluntly, the “clevers” – the black bourgeoisie – were appalled at the scandals surrounding the man.
Of course, local party officials were quickly and perhaps forcefully shown the error of their thinking.
Any notion matters would be different this time around were quickly dispelled.
An unfettered Zuma has again taken centre stage, laying it on thick with mumbo jumbo about snakes in the grass and God and Jesus ensuring victory at the polls.
He’s even warned the ancestors would bring bad luck to those who voted for the opposition.
But who knows? The party will hold its final rally in Johannesburg tomorrow – opportunity enough, presumably, for the introduction of yet more horned demons and old apartheid wraiths to distract us from such issues as the ongoing murders of ANC ward councillor candidates and anger with the party’s candidate selection process.
Little wonder, then, Zuma has been a powerful asset to the opposition. Rather greedily – and this is so like them – the DA has elected to make use of not one, but two ANC presidents in its campaign and is cheerfully insisting that it is the true guardian of the sainted Madiba legacy.
Could they not restrict themselves to safeguarding Helen Suzman’s legacy?
Perhaps the EFF’s Julius Malema is correct in suggesting parties leave the old guy out of it. Personally, I’d wanted more Nimby-ish issues to have dominated the campaigns. I firmly do fall into the Not In My Back Yard category. But then only because the sort of stuff that has gone down there has been generally crap and what’s been proposed for the future in terms of development is just as horrible.
Here’s a thing: in a recent radio debate, Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson revealed the city owned about 24 000 parcels of land — about half of which were vacant. He was reluctant to reveal much more about the properties, suggesting this could lead to land invasions.
Alas, this reluctance – according to another participant in the debate, the ACDP’s Grant Haskin – bolstered the perception the DA colluded with property developers and “only certain properties are released to certain property developers”.
It’s a perception that will continue so long as political parties are not required to disclose the identities of their private funders.
We may wonder where the ANC found the R1 billion or so it reportedly needed to fund its local election campaign.
Transparency demands we ask the same of other parties as well.