South Africa’s sixth general election is only days away and it’s impossible to predict the outcome – perhaps the biggest indicator will be the stadium wrap ups this weekend.
There’s been real stadium envy in recent polls, literally all about who had the biggest. It’s noticeable that the EFF have chosen the slightly smaller Orlando Stadium than the mega FNB down the road, for their Tshela Thupa (give them a hiding) rally, while the ANC’s going for the bigger Ellis Park – yet still a third smaller than FNB, for their Siyanqoba rally (we will conquer). The DA’s trying to fill Dobsonville – by far the smallest of the three – for theirs. It’s no coincidence that they are all in Joburg, since Gauteng could be the second province for the ANC to lose – or cling to by coalition. But in coalition with who and which ANC?
There’s a bizarre schizophrenia in the ruling party at the moment. Two of the ANC (and SA’s) past presidents have been hard at work on the stumps (At the time of writing JZ had been resolutely left in KZN, but by whose design it was unclear). Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe’s messages have been on point and unequivocal: rebuild the ANC and investigate all those fingered in the welter of book and commission of inquiry revelations – and if justified get them off the electoral lists.
Quick as a flash, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule took the polar opposite tack; whipping up some posters for a rally in his Free State heartland of Parys last Sunday, defending – in Bell Pottinger-esque terms – the party’s greatest rogues, in the court of public opinion at least: himself, Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane, all of whom now face the hardest test of all – an audit from the receiver on taxes owed on undeclared income. That’s always been a bugger to dodge, ask Al Capone – or the commander-in-thief.
In the meantime, the Ramaphosa faction have been banging away at the only message they have – keep supporting him and he’ll clean everything up. He made a major statement before last weekend, firing the NPA’s delinquent prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi before the ink on the Mokgoro Commission had even dried. But, as the twitterati ask, what happens if he gets knocked down or run over by a bus? Then you’re back with the other faction, heading even faster in the other direction.
As for the EFF, who knows which one will turn up when the results are in? Kiddie Amin’s policies and principles are as flaccid as Fikile Mbalula’s loyalties the morning after Nasrec. Magashule has been trying to woo him, but Juju’s ruled out any return – yet. He’s definitely outlawed any agreement with the polar opposite DA – who happily used the EFF to take over Joburg, Tshwane and, temporarily, Nelson Mandela Bay after the 2016 local government elections.
So, who do you vote for? Twenty-five years after the South African miracle, we’re suffering Electile Dysfunction; the inability to be aroused by any of the candidates standing for election. It was only supposed to hit us when we turned 50.
Originally published by the Saturday Star on 4 May 2019.