The Citizen (KZN)

Racial threat to elections

- Sydney Majoko

One of the greatest things about the president – and, by extension, the ruling ANC – delaying announcing the election date until the last constituti­onally possible moment is that it makes the campaignin­g period that much shorter.

The shorter the campaign, the lower the chances of SA’s deep underlying racial and ethnic divisions bubbling to the surface.

But trust politician­s to go digging into that cesspool and bringing some of the waste to the surface, every election, without fail. And, over the years, the official opposition has mastered the art of reminding South Africans of the totally divisive tactics first seen 75 years ago, when South Africa was subdivided into racial and ethnic entities.

John Steenhuise­n, not totally out of character with the party he leads, decided to have a go at “smaller opposition parties” campaignin­g against his party, the “bigger” opposition party. His rationale? The smaller parties are splitting the opposition vote and thus making it easier for the ruling party to stay in power. And that would have made sense only if he had stopped there.

No, he had to carry on and stoke the fires of racial fear by pointing out that Rise Mzansi’s Songezo Zibi supports land expropriat­ion without compensati­on, without giving any context at all.

In fact, he added, could all the smaller opposition stay away from their (DA) territory and campaign elsewhere in South Africa? This is typical of the racially tone-deaf fashion of the DA that has seen the party struggle to hold onto the likes of Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane, among many others.

Maybe it is not clear to Steenhuise­n, the biggest fear of the DA’s strongest voting base in the Western Cape is land expropriat­ion without compensati­on, which has never been Rise Mzansi’s election campaign cornerston­e.

The second – and perhaps most important thing that the DA and Steenhuise­n need to wake up to – is that no-one is being an “opposition to the opposition” as he alleges.

Perhaps it has never sunk in, but the DA has been the government in the Western Cape since 2009. Any party campaignin­g in that province is the opposition, but the DA is government.

Those that crafted the apartheid borders that have stood since 1951 must be pretty proud of themselves because every election has seen the rise of the kind of racial and ethnic fear-mongering that not only the DA has unwittingl­y used to scare people into voting, based on the creations of the architects of division.

Not so long ago, Julius Malema was told not to campaign in KZN but rather stay in Limpopo. It is not uncommon for people in North West province to tell people from Limpopo or Gauteng who are in leadership positions in that province “to go back home”.

It is, in fact, a wish of some from KZN to “go it alone”. For the province to become a country on its own because, well, they have the numbers. This is nothing new.

It is the divisions that were first used as reason to create the homelands under the guise of self-determinat­ion.

In fact, Steenhuise­n and the DA must be well aware of the jokes that call the Western Cape a republic. The only problem is some of the DA’s supporters think it is a joke that must become a reality. An independen­t Western Cape that can tell Zibi to go and campaign somewhere else, not in “their” territory.

Perhaps the boldest election move that the DA and Steenhuise­n can make is to declare publicly that the Western Cape belongs to all South Africans.

 ?? ?? The racially tone-deaf fashion of the DA has seen the party struggle to hold on to the likes of Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane.
The racially tone-deaf fashion of the DA has seen the party struggle to hold on to the likes of Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane.

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