We are not ANC vot­ing fod­der

The elec­torate have be­come a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball there for the tak­ing

Sunday Tribune - - OPINION - Gumede is a so­cio-po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor and jour­nal­ism lec­turer at the IIE Rose­bank Col­lege in Braam­fontein. He writes in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

GROW­ING up in Emdlebeni vil­lage in Stanger, we would make a soc­cer ball from the de­bris of bread plas­tics as buy­ing the ob­ject in ques­tion was for those with deeper pock­ets.

And it hap­pened that some­times the one from the fam­ily who could af­ford to buy it was not that gifted in the beau­ti­ful game. So, come game time they would want to be fea­tured on the start­ing line-up de­spite their lack of tal­ent.

If you don’t put him in the start­ing line-up he goes home with his ball – and that would mean the end of the game. If the coach sac­ri­fices the bet­ter player over the owner of the ball (ub­ho­lalami) the team might lose.

Some might be ask­ing where am I go­ing with this pream­ble. Well, I am not re­ally talk­ing about foot­ball, at least for now.

We all know it is al­most vot­ing sea­son and all politi­cians are now spend­ing sleep­less nights fight­ing to win the up­com­ing elec­tions.

To co­in­cide with that, the rul­ing party, ANC is cel­e­brat­ing 107 years since its for­ma­tion.

What tick­led my fancy in the past few days was Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa’s state­ment in Pinetown where he told peo­ple that fail­ing to keep the ANC in power would de­stroy the gains of free­dom in the past 24 years. This was not the first time Ramaphosa has said some­thing like this. When he was deputy pres­i­dent, he said if peo­ple did not vote for the rul­ing party “the Boers would come back to rule”.

To me, this was emo­tional black­mail to the vot­ers, es­pe­cially those who would be vot­ing for the first time. Some peo­ple in the rul­ing party are good with emo­tional black­mail. The ANC of late does not need any­one to de­stroy the gains of democ­racy – they have been ex­celling in do­ing so.

They be­lieve peo­ple should or would or­gan­i­cally vote for their party sim­ply be­cause it is a lib­er­a­tion move­ment. One thinks peo­ple should vote for what­ever party they be­lieve would change their lives.

If they be­lieve the ANC has been do­ing well, they should vote for them. But if other par­ties are the bea­con of hope, they should be voted.

A crit­i­cal as­sess­ment should be done by vot­ers so that they make a right choice, oth­er­wise, they re­main vot­ing cat­tle. All par­ties should earn votes. No party should be voted sim­ply be­cause they fought Ver­wo­erd’s regime.

To me, that is not good enough. Like ub­ho­lalami, we were grate­ful that he was kind enough to let us use his ball but he had to earn mak­ing it to the start­ing line.

Be­ing the ball owner did not mean that he was a great player. The same should be em­pha­sised in pol­i­tics.

Par­ties need to prove them­selves to the vot­ers that they will work for them. In Africa, in par­tic­u­lar, com­pla­cency has been the or­der of the day in many coun­tries for lib­er­a­tion move­ments.

The rul­ing party should learn from their coun­ter­parts in other coun­tries, oth­er­wise one day they will see them­selves on the op­po­si­tion benches in the na­tional as­sem­bly if they think peo­ple will re­li­giously vote them into power with­out scru­tiny.

SANDILE GUMEDE

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