By Grant Walliser
There are three parties of national significance in the coming election. They are the ANC, Cope and the DA. I will be voting for the DA. Before you jump to conclusions about me voting to my demographic, please hear me out.
Why I will not vote ANC:
The ANC has had 14 years in power. Under their governance South Africa has slowly crumbled from an international success story and an African leader brimming with promise to a largely mismanaged and morally corrupt nation state. The ANC have slowly led us away from the glory days of Mandela and are constantly flirting with our freedom, our non-racial democracy and our hope for a better future. Under ANC rule, we have seen the slow decay of almost all things that are critical to the functioning of a modern state with perhaps the exception of our economy, which will now begin to erode on the back of global events.
Our health system has been in a rapid downward spiral. After massive mismanagement by Manto and a frankly criminal delay of ARV rollout, we virtually lead the world in HIV infection rates. Our health leaders under the ANC have embarrassed us so badly at international level that local and international NGOs have had to fill the gap to get things done and save face for us. Mbeki’s baffling HIV pseudo-science has made us the laughing stock of the world. The TAC was long the only voice of reason until Barbara Hogan finally came to office and seems to be making some long needed changes. Too little, too late. The ANC ignored their people and let them die. They will not get my vote for that reason.
Our criminal justice system is swamped and corrupt to the core. Prisoners escape regularly, crime is rampant and the police chief has been accused of being in bed with organised crime bosses. The ANC elite have disbanded the Scorpions against vociferous public opinion and can’t give a good reason. That’s because there is no good reason. They did it to save their behinds from being prosecuted.
We all know it. They know that we know it but they don’t care because they have no opposition.
Under the ANC, private armies of security guards have come do the work of the police. The state has failed to provide us with adequate safety and security. I will not vote for a police force run by a leader linked to organised crime and an ANC government that protects that structure and the allegedly corrupt people at the top of it. These are not small things. We can do better, much better.
Service delivery under the ANC has been mismanaged to the point where people are starting to protest regularly, openly and even violently. Corruption and BEE at every level has ensured that the money flows to companies owned by the ANC elite and their buddies. They provide sub-standard, slow and expensive services as a result and future generations will have to redo all they have sloppily thrown together to make a quick buck. Our electricity system and our water reticulation systems are in dire need. The corruption at municipal level is legendary. I can’t vote for a party that does not take service delivery seriously enough to actually deliver for their people. Rampant ANC cronyism makes me want to put my X elsewhere.
Our foreign policy is both naïve and detrimental to our international image. Under the ANC, we have descended from “the country that stood up and beat apartheid” to “the country that backs Mugabe through its inexplicable silence and accepts the million of refugees only to murder them”. Our stint on the UN Security Council has seen us block global action to help Zimbabweans throw off their repugnant regime, we blocked a motion on war-rape with a logic so convoluted that it staggers one to believe a grown person could have been involved in expressing it.
I can’t vote for a party that is incapable of compiling a strategically sound foreign policy in which it projects its power and authority in a mature and ethical way both regionally and internationally. The ANC seems incapable of this. I can’t vote for a party that found Mugabe’s elections free and fair. I can’t vote for a party whose delegates give standing ovations at SADC conferences to a murderous dictator that kills his own people.
I can’t vote for a party that squanders our money and spent R40-billion and counting on arms we don’t need. The ANC is wrapped in the corrupt tentacles of the deal and still can’t be bothered to explain to the electorate why it needed the damn things in the first place. Why should they? They win regardless due to a public still drunk on liberation. Not with my vote; not after what they have done to my country and its people. They were trusted to look after South Africa’s people and they have let us down time and time again.
BEE is a racially divisive, enrichment tool for the ANC elite. While we need the wealth of this country to be shared more evenly, this farce is not the way to do it. It is a simple matter of removing race from the equation and implementing policy to benefit the poor of our country of all colours. Fair, non-racial and equitable policy would take us to the next level in this fight and establish a moral basis of non-racial equity for all. But under the ANC, race rules as supreme as it always has here in South Africa. I want a non-racial leadership. I can’t vote for people who can’t see past race and the past. I can’t vote for the ANC.
Consider this: the ANC elite are by far the largest recipients of BEE-generated wealth and are simultaneously responsible for deciding when it should end. It is hardly surprising then that every survey shows how black ownership on the JSE is limp, how the poor stay poor and do not benefit from BEE and how the elite are sitting on so many boards they do not have the time in the year to attend all the meetings. BEE works for a few massively wealthy individuals. It is not a vehicle for addressing the inequality of our society. It never has been.
After 14 years, however, the policy is still unchanged and firmly in place. BEE is clearly not working unless you are in the top echelons of the ANC in which case it is a top performer. Under the ANC little will change; yet it now must change. I can’t vote for people who enrich themselves by exploiting the suffering of others who stay poor.
Education is in the same decay spiral as the rest of the portfolios of government. We are short of teachers, the ones we have are often poorly trained and our schools are simply not improving. Big alarm bells should be ringing here. The people who were poorly educated during the last 14 years will leave a legacy for the next 50. The ANC seems incapable of decisive and radical action on this issue. I can’t vote for a party that spends R40-billion on arms and R300-million on a private presidential jet instead of improving our schooling and thereby our collective future. The ANC have let our children down. I will not vote for them.
Regarding the economy, the ANC has managed to put in a good performance. It stands alone as the only government portfolio not in a total mess. One hit is simply not enough to draw my vote. Of course, our draconian labour laws, stifling legislative compliance for small business and inexplicable lingering foreign exchange controls are all working hard to undermine this area of competence and keep us average. Our economic growth was also achieved during a period of unprecedented global boom. Hard times are here. Watch this space, especially under a leftist government faction.
I can’t vote for a party that drives its fat, smug members around at high speed to the detriment of normal people. I can’t vote for a party that offers people of the calibre of Jacob Zuma, Carl Niehaus and Julius Malema as their best and loudest voices. In good conscience and in the name of all things fair, ethical, progressive and democratic I simply can’t vote for the ANC. They had their chance and the results are less than satisfactory. They don’t deserve our votes any more. We need to give another party a chance to do better.
So let’s look at Cope:
Cope is comprised of ex-members of the ANC that figured they would soon be out of a job and jumped ship to start a new party. Many of them are personally responsible for the mess outlined above. I don’t believe Cope has the degree of separation required to be believable in what they promise. Cope, therefore, does not get my vote while there is a better option.
From a strategic perspective, if the ANC and Cope were the only two parties available, I would vote Cope. I would do this not because I believe them to be any more capable or less corrupt than the ANC; they virtually are the ANC. I would vote for Cope because both the ANC and Cope would perform better in power if they have a serious opposition. With 75% of the vote assured in every election, the ANC has very little incentive to perform.
It really shows. Let’s change that.
Remove that certainty and the same fatties who have been fleecing us without bothering to talk to us for the last 14 years realise they may be out of a lucrative job with BEE-ensured retirement billions slipping away with it. That means they will have to show something to their electorate. That can only be good.
Why I will vote DA:
Finally we have the DA for whom I will be casting my vote. The DA has long been the object of ANC propaganda. Not being able to find any real dirt, the only way the ANC has been able to discredit the DA is by literally calling it names. That’s not very mature but when you review ANC performance at all levels and its sense of entitlement, it is somewhat expected.
They refer to “GodZille” because they can’t say “Zille, who was responsible for arm’s deal corruption”. They labelled Leon as a white male hankering after the days of apartheid because everything he said in Parliament was incisive and exposed ANC irregularities and questioned their hegemony. Of course he was cheeky and disruptive. He had to be.
The ANC tried to manufacture dirt on Zille, so desperate were they for something to point a finger at. Dirt, they found has a way of sticking to its source when the whole Erasmus debacle was exposed.
I will be voting DA primarily because of what they have done with the little power they have. They are a constant voice of reason, a voice of maturity in a sea of carnage. They have condemned Mugabe from the outset. Helen Zille, world mayor of the year, has massive international respect. She has turned Cape Town around.
You can read the details here and here but all you really have to do is go to Cape Town to see what a great job they are doing there. Crime down 90% in the city centre since 2000. Unemployment down, debt down, improvements everywhere. Housing supply rates doubled, electrification in areas the ANC previously ignored.
So I am thinking let’s give them a shot. They deserve it. If they suck, we can always vote the ANC back in next time. It’s called democracy. Why win the right to vote and never use it to its potential?
And what if the DA is good or even great? What if they start to fix things in South Africa? What if they extend the Cape Town model to the whole country? What if they are actually able to improve service delivery, improve health and education and make us proud in the UN instead of the current lot that make us cringe?
They are the only serious party who can stand tall and say they had nothing to do with the arms deal, the HIV debacle and the Zimbabwe travesty. Their policies are centrist, pragmatic and make sense. They are policies that the developed world can engage with. They have the degree of separation required to form a fresh government. They may have a white leader but are fundamentally non-racial in philosophy regardless of what the ANC would have you believe.
The DA will not abandon transformation but will approach it in a fair and sustainable manner without enriching their leaders. They have shown what they can do. They have experience. They can point to a good track record and they have a leader who could reclaim our tattered international credibility and rebuild it.
I know the DA will not win this election. If conditions prevail, however, where Cope takes enough votes from the ANC, the DA will become the most powerful coalition partner available. In this role, they can amplify their influence and affect policy disproportionate to their size. Discount the DA at your peril. They may also win a province or two and show us more of what they can do at provincial level.
I will vote DA because they ultimately have the best chance of making South Africa into a leading nation with policy that unites and does not divide. That is a nation I want to be part of. That is a nation I could be proud of. I was proud in 1994. That pride has been repeatedly dented and battered by the ANC but I live in hope that it can be reclaimed. The ANC in government has been a monumental disappointment.
That is why I will vote DA in 2009.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
By Grant Walliser