31 March 2019 - Praise Mavasa
South Africa is gearing up for the elections due to take place on the 8th May of 2019. We are deep in the campaign process and the top 3 parties (ANC, EFF and DA) have shown a consistent lack of real political engagement with its citizens, choosing rather to bash and undermine each other as a way of canvassing for votes. The other strategy is the sudden concern for citizens’ issues and the everyday needs that never get as much attention or priority after elections.
A lot of the problems faced in South Africa are still distinctively racially marked, due to the legacy of apartheid, despite the 25 years of independence. Our society is the most unequal in the world, in terms of class, race and gender. The journey of creating a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society seems like a utopia. A distant dream that is too far-fetched to reach. The objectives of the ANC to achieve that goal are commendable, but the path to get there is inadequate. They have failed and now should be the time for them to admit that, because many South Africans are disgruntled and no longer interested in hearing promises that will not be fulfilled.
South Africans are tired of an unequal society that seems to benefit the few at the expense of the rest. What we need is a party that is able to address the social issues that face the average South African. Issues that still affect South Africans along racial lines, class, gender and social status. Tackling just one of those issues does not mean that we are heading towards right direction and tackling all of them at once will not suffice.
The problem lies with the lack of basic understanding from leaders. An understanding of what a day in South Africa is like for a transgendered person, a woman, a child, a marginalized group of people or a senior citizen. The world is not just black and white, there are different aspects within those barriers, and within those barriers, there are different needs and wants. The best solution is to address these issues one at a time and not all at once, gradually working to improve each issue for each citizen.
The ANC, EFF and DA have all taken different approaches and issues to focus on during this election period. The ANC’s focus is on the older generation, the generation that is ever thankful for the rescuing from the perils of Apartheid. It is a very clever tactic because the older generation tends to stick firm to the “old ways” of thinking and is not keen to change. This has been their strategy for years and has kept them in power for so long. They tend to say the same thing over, just a little bit better each time. The problem with the ANC is that they believe they will always rule South Africa because South Africans are forever indebted to them. The apartheid regime was a terrible crime to humanity and the battle was definitely not won by the ANC alone, there were other driving forces that led to the liberation of South Africa.
The EFF’s strategy, on the other hand, is focusing on the most marginalized and angriest people of South Africa. Considering the fact that youth unemployment rate is at its highest [38,2 %], the youth bear the hardships of a failing economy, inflation, crime and a terrible education system that does not prepare them for the labour force. The EFF uses this emotion by focusing on populist ideas that fuels anger and causes frustration, making the EFF seem like the viable answer to ending those problems. The strategy is that “the people shall govern”, “the people shall decide that the wealth of South Africa should be distributed equally”; “that the land shall be returned to its rightful owners and they shall work it”. They promise to break the barriers of inequality and share the resources of South Africa with the people. Because they provide a promising young leadership, this makes them really attractive.
The EFF is often the voice of the marginalized in tertiary institutions and often decides to incite violence if there is a lack of “compliance”. They tend to use the word “shutdown” for everything when their demands are not met. Shutdown Unisa! Shutdown universities! Shutdown the State of the Nation Address! It’s a shutdown system with no interest in reaching a reasonable middle-ground. The infamous Commander in Chief has won over the hearts of the youth and their voter base seems to be growing.
The DA seems to have a focus on the middle. With their desperation to retrieve a large black vote, they are doing whatever they can to seem as if they are non-racial and that they are all inclusive and want to ensure that everyone has a job. However, there has been some shady dealings that surround the DA, and there is a lot of things unravelling. Racial accusations from former Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille, having a “black face” in the forefront whilst an all-male, all-white cabal is running the show in the background, and of course, the infamous billboard bashing the ANC has caused an outrage amongst South Africans.
Nonetheless, campaigning continues in the midst of this chaos. We also see an overwhelming and troubling effort by all the parties to discredit each other rather than dealing or engaging with the issues. Everyday, some new information made to discredit one of the political parties is revealed and yet no real public engagement exists. Instead, we see popular media and sensationalist tactics that are meant to distract the public form the real issues facing this country.
It’s all the same songs sung during every tenure and it’s getting quite boring and annoying to listen to. The sudden show of “concern”, such as that of the EFF disputing the rules set out to prevent students from being able to do walk-ins in universities, the shack door-to-door campaigns where citizens are asked what more can the ANC do to “move South Africa forward together”; or the billboard to show us how “The ANC is killing us” are all mere spectacles and performances. These performances of superficial interest and party-bashing will not take this country forward. Elections in 2019 will be the one to watch very closely and to observe what change the average South African will make.
- Praise Mavasa (@Tshuxeko8)
I am a writer that focuses on advertising content, website content and social media. I love reading and writing about political and social issues such as gender inequality and how it affects us globally.