Tuesday 21 April 2009

South Africa Votes 2009

When I wrote back in September last year that a split in the ANC would not be a bad thing at all for democracy in South Africa, I had not realized what form or guise the split would take. Seeing as I was writing before the formation of Congress of the People (COPE) I could not see how the opposition led by the Democratic Alliance could whittle away at the ANC’s two-thirds majority in parliament in tomorrow's elections.

With one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, the fear has always been that there could come a point in the future when the ANC would wield this majority to alter the constitution, if they were so inclined.

So as millions of South Africans go to the polls to vote for a new president and parliament, it is perhaps worth noting that without a strong and robust opposition, South Africa may regrettably tread the path taken by other African countries where liberation war movements have morphed into tyrannical dictatorships.

So with most commentators seemingly in agreement that the only question is on the size of the margin by which the ANC will trounce the opposition, one does hope that for the sake of democracy, the combined opposition parties can muster enough votes to keep the ruling party in check. If between them, the Democratic Alliance, COPE, Inkhatha Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement, the Independent Democrats and the rest of motley crew can at least get more than 35 percent of the vote, that would be a good election for those interested in maintaining South Africa’s strong and young democracy.

Of course, my thinking on this is largely influenced by what has happened in the rest of Africa and it may be tad bit unfair to assume that South Africa will go the same way. Who knows, perhaps Jacob Zuma - for all his many transgressions - may turn out be an inspired leader who feels he has a (whole) lot of people to prove wrong. Already some pundits are saying that compared to the aloof and distant Thabo Mbeki, he does have that common touch and dare I say, charisma that most successful leaders in history seemed to possess. Not sure about his judgement though and indeed surrounding himself with a bunch of nutcases.

Let's wait and see.

1 comment:

Becks said...

Post elections, post ANC's 65.9% majority win (they needed 66% to be able to affect constitutional change... no doubt opposition MPs can and will be bought... infact some predict an ANC-COPE alliance): What are your thoughts? Interestingly, elections are barely over and those in the upper echelons of the ANC are already battling out the 2011 ANC national conference with Kgalema being tipped as one of the party-president favorites. That will obviously does not bode well for the president in waiting. Its all mind-boggling really. My brain is reeling.