Expect a long two weeks of the unexpected as we head up to election day

There is slightly just over a fortnight before South Africa goes to the polls for the 2021 local government elections. In sports parlance, there’s never been one like this that has so been the ANC’s to lose. There’s load shedding, municipalities in disarray. 

Some councils are in a death spiral, with the closest those residents ever coming to basic services is seeing the phrase written on an election poster. Yet the opposition parties seem hell bent on squandering this golden opportunity. 

The best the ANC can come up with after being in power for an entire generation, nationally and much of the councils too, is to promise to do better. It’s like an alcoholic coming out of the detox part of rehab and pleading for the keys to the pub.

The DA keeps managing to shoot itself in the foot. The ANC used to use Julius Malema – before it expelled him for burning one bridge too far – to test what it really felt on the rest of the country. The DA doesn’t have a Malema, its real leaders actually do believe what the posters set out to say in KZN.

Now the posters are down, the mealy-mouthed apologies have been made and the DA is beset by internal wranglings between those who think it should actually be democratic and its old school ‘liberal’ leaders who of course know better than everyone else who they believe are actually just there to make up numbers. And then there’s the whiplash U-turn on Cape Town golf courses being mooted as mixed-use developments (aka poor friendly)

The party isn’t the only one to be saying sorry, the IFP did so early this week too, after “erroneously” printing a picture of the Zulu monarch-designate, as part of its campaign to woo KZN voters. The only two parties that don’t seem to have put a foot wrong thus far have been the Freedom Front Plus, which has probably benefited more from the DA trying to be FF Minus, and the EFF, which has made its manifesto (however impractical) manifestly clear. 

Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said a week’s a long time in politics – South Africa has two before the elections. Anything can happen – and probably will, the only question is who will put their foot in their mouth next, or be caught with their hands in someone else’s till.

Earlier in the week @Sarietha tweeted that she’d vote for Gift of the Givers – and whoever was running CheckersSixty60 app. 

If a week’s a long time in politics, a couple of hours are an eternity on social media. Some users loved her suggestion and added their own, but typically a deluge of others rubbished everything. The only one unscathed was Imtiaz Suliman, but he’s not running on November 1. 

This week the pres declared November 1 a holiday. We don’t have an excuse now. We’ve got the day off to vote. 

It doesn’t matter who you vote for; but if you don’t, you can’t bitch afterwards if you couldn’t be bothered to have skin in the game.

Originally published by the Saturday Star on 16 October 2021.