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Swedish, Nature conservation freak, Passionate about Africa, Loving Peace, Politically neutral

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Zuma’s win will become South Africa’s fall

The election in South Africa seems to have passed without any major incidents yesterday (although a Cope party member was shoot dead outside his home in Port Elizabeth). I predicted that ANC would get less then 50% this time around, but the primarily results say around 60% for the ruling party. This is nonetheless a step forward for South Africa, that doesn’t end up in the palm of a party with 2/3 majority. However the fact that there is no clear opposition force to be recon with may send the country towards a dictatorship á la Zimbabwe. All the signs are there...

It is practically determined that the next president of South Africa will be Jacob Zuma. Much can be said about this man, but even more should be said about his supporters, who are a ranging bunch of semi-bandits. The leader of the ANC youth league, Julius Malema, is a faithfully devoted supporter of Zuma and have on more then one occasion threaten with violence if things didn't go his way. Just the other day he promised to take to violent action against the restaurant chain Nando’s in South Africa if they didn’t removed a TV-ad where he was depicted as a puppet (see clip below).

Moreover, Zuma’s stronghold lies in the, relative, far left-wing and I wouldn’t be surprised if he owes the communist party some debt. The influence of “revolutionary” forces in South Africa can send chill down the spine of anyone that have experienced communism. Referring to each other as “comrades” the party members of ANC shout either “contra-revolutionarist” or “racist” when being criticized for their leadership. And we can all see what a wonderful leadership it has been so far...

Some would say that the light in the tunnel is the fact that the party DA (Democratic Alliance) seems to have won the provincial elections in Western Cape. The party’s leader, Helen Zille, is said to have done wonders during here time as mayor of Cape Town. Apparently she was voted the best major of the world last year (unconfirmed rumour). Nonetheless, the violence and the ever-growing informal settlements (shanty towns) in and around Cape Town doesn’t leave me raving about Zille’s skills. In my eyes and ears DA seems and sounds very much like a white ANC, but maybe I’m wrong.

Perhaps the best party for South Africa would be the ID (Independent Democrats), which seems to be the only South African party with a clear anti-corruption profile. Furthermore, the party have the most diverse “race” composition in South Africa, with some 30% coloured voters, 25 % whites, 25 % blacks, and 20 % Indians. Sadly a vote for ID is regarded by South Africans as a vote wasted, as the party is still very small (but managed to get over 8% in Western Cape according to primarily reports).

Lets hope and pray that Zuma and his thugs can either start to do a very good job, or totally screw everything up. If the latter, at least South Africa can leave this limbo it is situated in at the moment. Hopefully, the ANC’s lack of skills in leading a democratic country will become obvious to the majority of people before the next election in 2014, and before South Africa will become a new Zimbabwe.

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Olbap said...

This tragedy is due to the fundamental nature of the ANC - a former communist guerrilla. South Africa is on fast track towards becoming Africa's latest cleptocracy, to the probable joy for all the left-wingers of Europe and the USA. Expect no condemnations from the U.N. - these days the U.N. is an obvious forum for dictators of the world. A far cry from its origins as a forum for democracies. The 30's all over again....

Björn Nilsson said...

Just checked The Star homepage. 77% voted, that is better than in many European elections. Are there any indications of election fraud? With a high turn-out of voters, parties with different political programs, and no fraud, I find it difficult to see why UN (!!) should condemn the elections. In that case, the voters should be condemned and sternly be told to vote according to ... well whatever that could be. Suppose the South Africa elections just show the preferences of the voters. If you don't like it, it may be that the voters are wrong, but in a democracy we have the right to express opinions which may differ from yours - and you may be wrong also.

Geoffrey Goines said...


Hmmmm, I would not yearn back to the incompetence of the League of Nations in the 30s...

>Björn Nilsson

It is not 77% of the (over 18) population that voted, but 77% of the registered voters. How many didnt register is difficult to say due to short-comings in South African census techniques.

There has been some scattered cases of election fraud, but nothing major. The problem in South Africa's case is that black people generally refuse to vote for a "white" party (DA) and white people refuse to vote for a "black" party (ANC). Hence, you get the situation where a majority of the population cast their vote on ANC, even if they lost total faith in the party. People simply fear a return to white rule.

It is a pity that the Independent democrats (ID) or United democratic movement (UDM), are not seen as a healthy and "non-white" alternative to the ANC.

Björn Nilsson said...

You mean that people have to register themselves as voters, something like the stupid US system? I thought 77% meant 77% of the electorate (= people 18 years or older or whenever you have the right to vote in SA) not a smaller group.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>Björn Nilsson

Yes, people have to register to be able to vote in the South African elections. And moreover, until this election no South African citizens living abroad were allowed to register to vote.

If I may speculate on how many of the electorates voted, I would say around 50%.

Erik Svensson said...

It still seems as if the south african majority have clearly voted in favour of ANC, in spite of the intense negative media coverage of ANC and Zuma. What can be learned from this?

Well, that western media does apparently not understand the thinking of the poor black electorate in South Africa, who apparently are not impressed by the opposition parties and who, for right or wrong reasons, voted ANC.

Unfortunately, this bloggpost has somewhat of an elitist attitude and is somewhat disrespectful of the many south africans that choose to cast their vote on ANC. It reminds me about the famous quote of Bertholt Brecht, when he ironically remarked over the stalinist regime in former East Germany (DDR) in 1953, after a popular uprising:

"Isn't it time for the government to dissolve the people and elect a new one?"

That you predicted ANC would get less than 50 % and that western media has been so hysterical about Zuma/ANC before this election only tells me that few bother to ask what the south african citizens think, those who do not control mainstream media.

No western journalist bother to visit the poor areas and ask them, but I am curious WHY Zuma is so popular? Could it be that they hope for a leftward shift in economic policy? A more state-controlled economy and a shift away from the neoliberal economic policies. Therefore, I cannot really take these hysterical overreactions of the alliance between ANC and SACP too seriously. South Africa needs more socialism, and less liberalism, in my opinion. At least if you mean a more state-controlled economy, increased social welfare, heavy state investment in education etc.

If Zuma is the right person to do this, I do not know. But if he decides to move the country leftwards, I think many south africans would agree with such a policy, and this is the beauty of democracy. It is the south african citizens who should choose their governments, not liberals from western Europe or the US or media owners.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>Erik Svensson

I hope that u have noted throughout my posts that my opinion of Zuma, ANC etc doesnt fully correspond with "western" media's. From my own knowledge and experience I know I am right when claiming that ANC is wrong for South Africa.
We have already seen some of the more left-oriented ANC's "skills" during last year, and the poorest south africans will be worst of now then they have been during the last 15 years. (Note that I am not saying that, for example, the DA is a better alternative in this case).

When it comes to my "elitism" I recall meeting a middle aged man from a informal settlement outside Durban a couple of years age. He told me he didnt like greeks, because Greece had once colonized South Africa... Perhaps an innocent misconception from an uneducated person. But what happens if we have people that genuinely believe that white europeans are actively spreading HIV in Africa in order to exterminate the black "race"? Should they be allowed to vote for a "One white - one bullet"-party?

Most people in South Africa today still feel that they owe ANC something. They vote for the party even if they dont agree with its politics, or moral standard. In addition to that there is a fairly big proportion of the population that would never vote for ANC nowadays, but choose not to vote at all. Together with what I have written in my post (about the lack of a real opposition alternative, and the intimidating approach by the Zuma supporters) I dont see this election as a proof that ANC has the majority support of the South African population. The party has just been able master the skill of fooling people over and over again.

Erik Svensson said...


"I know I am right when claiming that ANC is wrong for South Africa."

How could you, or anybody else for that matter, "know" if ANC is right or wrong for South Africa??? Politics is about opinions and values, not about absolute knowledge (then it is more the domain of religion, in my opinion).

I personally know many people in Sweden who has "known" for many years that the Socialdemocrats were "wrong" for Sweden and who have voted for the Moderates. But in spite of their "knowledge", the Socialdemocrates have won election after election, to the great frustration of the Swedish middle and right-winged opposition.

The "explanation" from the swedish opposition has always been of a similar kind as you hint that is the reason why people still vote ANC in South Africa: that people feel that they "owe" the Socialdemocrats something or that they are brainwashed or "bribed" by social welfare etc. In my opionin, this has always been rather pathetic explanations from the opposition to explain away their own failures. One has to give the socialdemocrats some credit for doing some (although not all) good things to Sweden.

I, for myself, do not know if ANC is right or wrong for South Africa, if Zuma wil be a disaster or even a positive surprise. I'd say; give him a chance first instead of painting him as a devil. I think there are serious reasons for concerns, for instance, that ANC has a too big of majority and could become even more arrogant. However, I am certain that even if ANC would loose power in the future, and a more credible opposition would emerge, I think that the ANC will probably govern SA for many years to come, for historic reasons.

It would be wrong to deny ANC's historical importance and their legitimate past, just like one has to admit that the Socialdemocrats in Sweden have a historical legacy that one should not dismiss and that there are good reasons for their strong popular support. What one could hope is that the ANC one day (sooner, rather than later) are forced to govern in a coalition with some other party(-ies), but given that not even the Socialdemocrats have done that (except with Bondeförbundet during a short period in the 50'ties) I think that Sweden should be careful to not try to teach the south africans what a perfect democracy would be like...

Cheng said...

Erik Svensson:

The brief answer is that a perfect democracy sure as hell wouldn't have a governing party that elects a guy that thinks showering prevents AIDS as their party leader and presumtive presidential candidate. That same person chaired the government AIDS relief committee at the time...

The very same presidential candidate has also expressed frustration over the fact that the supreme court is the highest juidiciary power in the nation rather than the cabinet. Golly, just the kind of person you'd want to hand constitution-amending powers to, eh?

Zuma has been given several chances, and just because he hasn't had a shot at being president yet doesn't mean that he should be judged by his (purported) intentions instead of his track record.

The electoral outcome with ANC falling short of 2/3 majority, and DA winning Western Cape, is a blessing for all who think that a true democracy should have a healthy political opposition, which can operate freely without being harrassed by the majority.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>Erik Svensson

I should perhaps have written that I am convinced that I am right, but that seemed less proactive...
The knowledge and experience I have from South Africa, and similar political systems in Europe renders me to say that the ANC is wrong for the country. Of course I could be wrong, but I see very little reason for that as I dont have any hidden agendas on this matter. I am simply interest in finding a system that works, and benefits South Africa the most.

Furthermore, I am not really sure if I get you when you are saying that we should give Zuma a chance and so on. Are you referring to my post? Because that is basically what I have written, that Zuma might be good for South Africa, but I fear his supporter, and I have already seen signs that his ruling (including the group behind him) will be bad for the country.

I dont agree that ANC should get any benefits in elections nowadays on the grounds of stuff that happened decades ago. If one follows your logic than the PAC (Pan African Congress) should get some free votes for the sacrifices they made in, for example, Sharpville 1960 (which brought the world attention to the brutality of the apartheid system).

It is always good to make mistakes, thus getting more and more experience. The same goes for any young democracy. But if I, as a friend of South Africa, have made those mistakes before shouldnt I try to inform south africans about the potential risk that they are at....?

Cheng (the comment above) also brings up an interesting thing. What do you, Erik, think about the current "minority protection" in South Africa? Sweden has "minoritetsskydd" as a very fundamental and important part of its democracy. Do you feel this protection is at satisfying levels in South Africa?

Erik Svensson said...

Cheng & Geoffrey:

I agree that it is not good if one party has too much power, and it would be better if ANC had less than the almost 2/3 they currently have.

However, I am unsure what kind of "minority protection" Geoffrey is talking about here? Can you be more specific?

In Sweden we actually have something reverse of "minority protection", i. e. a 4 % minimum for a party to become represented in the parlament. I am personally against this, as I think it puts a limit on democracy. But I suppose it is something else you are referring to here.

Geoffrey Goines said...

>Erik Svensson

Luckly the ANC didnt get 2/3 majority in the elections.

I was thinking in general terms of minority protection, and how a healthy democracy should blindly apply majority rules.
(The Swedish equivalent to this protection is the right to veto that the municipalities in Sweden enjoy in questions that concern them)

I would like to see minimum percentage level in South Africa as well. Mainly because there is a sea of small parties now that tend to split up in even smaller parts, and then swamping places and parties. However, I heard that the so called "floor crossing" (where you can take your chair in the South African parliament and go to another party) is nor longer applicable. So maybe the need for this minimum level is not that needed anymore.

Erik Svensson said...


When it comes to minority protection, I am in favour of the "standard one": minorities should be allowed to express their opinions, form political parties, start newspapers, express their religious beliefs etc. I do not know if you imply that these basic democratic minority rights are not enough.

I am more hesitant to minority protections that would mean e. g. some kind of "veto" of a minority against majority decisions. There was such a minority protection in Zimbabwe, ten years after 1980, where the white votes were counted "more" than the black votes and Ian Smith's party was guaranteed 20 % representation in the parlament (with much fewer votes). The only effect that thad was to delay necessary reforms, cement suspicion between black and white voters and keep the "race issue" alive. Later on, it paved the way for Robert Mugabes policy and failed "land reform" that we see these days.

So, my short answer is: Yes, SOME minority protection is good, but not all kinds. It depends what they look like.

BadboyZ said...

I'm a non-white, non-black South African living abroad. I would have loved to have voted in this election, even though I was quite certain the ANC would take it again.

Our democratic process has matured greatly, and Western media does not always portray that. Zuma is a highly respected man, mainly because he is old-school and a chieftain figure amongst his people, who are the majority.

Western ideals of democracy dont
always play out so well in South Africa. We have been set back at least 15yrs by the old apartheid govt in terms of education, skilled labour development. We will get there, and when the people's collective mentality matures, so will the quality of it's leaders.

In my own opinion, I have witnessed enough corruption in the new SA government to know that if the Zuma administration does deliver to the people in need, then a little corruption here and there is a small price to pay.