ANALYSIS: Without a stronger opposition, South Africa's democracy is doomed
The DA needs to change its strategy. If it doesn’t, I see the EFF governing with the ANC in a coalition government years from now. That will be catastrophic to South Africa and our democracy will be doomed, writes Phumlani M. Majozi
It's been twenty-five years since the founding of a democratic South Africa, and the African National Congress (ANC) still commands electoral support.
The followers of the ANC must be delighted of their dominance – and rightly so.
I believe this one party dominance is not healthy for our young democracy. A stronger, vigorous opposition would do this country and its citizens a huge favour.
Over the years of its reign, the ANC became more and more corrupt.
It also abused and undermined our democratic institutions to levels unseen in South Africa’s post-1994 history.
This abuse of power reached its zenith in the previous administration helmed by Jacob Zuma. State corruption and misdemeanours were extremely common in Zuma’s presidency.
The ANC not only bungled state institutions under Zuma - but it also embraced destructive economic policies that produced high levels of government debt, dismal economic growth and rising unemployment.
Fast-forward to today, the party is still mismanaging the economy – budget deficits are rising, and debts and unemployment keep rising too. Under Zuma’s successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, the country has entered the recession twice.
This failure on many levels is a clear sign that this country needs a stronger opposition that will challenge ANC’s power. The weakness of our opposition continues to be a blow to this country.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) – which is South Africa’s biggest opposition party – failed to significantly capitalise on Zuma’s startling short-comings.
A lot has been written on why the DA isn’t growing as fast as it should given the ANC’s dismal performance over the past 15 years. Some have argued that the DA’s under-performance can be attributed to its failure to differentiate itself from the ANC on policy.
I partly agree with this assertion.
However, I fully agree, with a theory that many of the DA supporters tend to dismiss: the race theory.
The DA is seen as white and out of touch with South Africa’s socio-economic issues - which is - of course, not fair to it.
I have voted for the ANC once, and the DA numerous times. I will probably continue voting for the DA in future.
Voting for the DA does not mean I entirely agree with their policies. I do not. Far from it.
The DA would do less damage to the economy if they were in power. Where they currently govern, they do relatively well. They are the least corrupt and are least hostile to business. Those are the main reasons I’ve voted for the DA.
It’s good that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is one of South Africa’s prominent political parties.
The problem is that the EFF is a bunch of mad clowns who want to direct us into the deadly dungeons of socialism. They are violent and have threatened minorities. If they were to get into power, this country would slip into destitution in a very short period of time. They are more corrupt too.
It is a shame that the EFF has grown faster than other political parties since its establishment back in 2014. Its radical left-wing stance seems to have paid off.
My opinion on the DA is that it needs to be pro-market, pro-liberty and unashamedly acknowledge racial income differences.
The nature of our politics requires such a strategy, unfortunately. In South Africa’s politics race matters. If you are a politician you can’t pretend as if such a political environment doesn’t exist.
It is not difficult to argue that minimum wages negatively impact blacks who make up the biggest proportion of the unemployed and the poor.
The expropriation of land without compensation will cause greatest harm to poor blacks.
State controls also hurt blacks who make up the majority of the poor.
I believe it’s possible to advance non-racial policies to address the needs of black people. Such a strategy could work for the DA.
The party would need black leaders to advance the agenda I have described above. But it can’t be black leaders like Mmusi Maimane.
Maimane was not a pro-market black person. He was ideologically confused.
I never knew what he stood for.
If the DA wants to be seen as different from the ANC then it can’t have people like Maimane leading it.
The DA and other parties becoming stronger would help save this democracy that is under siege by desperate politicians pursuing their own, narrow interests. We urgently need a stronger opposition.
The ANC must abdicate power sooner rather than later – it’s become a liability to all South Africans.
The DA needs to change its strategy. If it doesn’t, I see the EFF governing with the ANC in a coalition government years from now. That will be catastrophic to South Africa and our democracy will be doomed.
I just hope that when the catastrophe takes place, I will not be living in South Africa.
- Phumlani M. Majozi is a politics and international affairs analyst, senior fellow at AfricanLiberty.org, radio talk show host and non-executive at Free Market Foundation South Africa. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter: @PhumlaniMMajozi