Political Soundbite(s) of the Day

Here’s Alex Perry (you may remember him from such articles as “Why Cape Town’s Woodstock Rocks“) in Time Magazine with a scathing piece detailing “How The ANC Lost Its Way“.

To be honest, there’s not a lot of new stuff here for the local audience – we are used to the cut and thrust of the South African political scene around the facts and alleged facts that Perry details. But for the international audience, it must make interesting reading. And two sentences (highlighted in the DTP version of the article) particularly resonate in Perry’s argument.
Firstly, the words of Tumelo Lekooe, a 20 year old street sweeper in Bloemfontein:

I don’t know why we still vote for them.
It’s our grandparents. They say we are here only because of the ANC.

and then Perry’s explanation of the ANC’s continuing electorial success:

With such an underwhelming record in office, how does the ANC win elections?
By invoking its legend.

The DA, our official opposition party, has a good “better” record on service delivery (or at least, its record is better perceived) , but it has yet to make that record – or that perception – count anywhere outside the Western Cape. That’s because it has the dual obstacles of its (again, perceived?) “white” party status and the massive and emotional history and legend of the ANC to overcome.

That said, it’s widely expected that they will overcome those obstacles, prompting these ominous words from journalist Gwynne Dyer:

The election in 2014 will probably be the last in which it can hope to win a parliamentary majority honestly.
The most important crisis in South Africa’s history will occur when it loses the election after that. Only if the ANC then goes meekly into opposition can we conclude that South Africa really is an exception to the rule that liberation movements don’t do democracy.

The ANC announced at the weekend that it has surpassed 1,000,000 members. But as Perry and Dyer both state, it’s the growing number malcontent amongst the ANC voters that will mean that the political landscape may already be very different by the time those 2019 elections come around.

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