History will mark the 2016 election as a pivotal moment in SA’s political development.
No one foresaw the ANC losing so much of its urban support as to lose control of three powerful metros and fall a full eight percentage points nationally, bringing the party to a point where losing power in 2019 is a distinct possibility.
An outcome so threatening to the ANC’s future prospects was bound to catalyse a significant reaction.
It seemed obvious that the ANC had reached a high road / low road fork, prompting either pragmatic self-reform, or a hastening towards populism and kleptocracy, as alternative strategies for self-preservation.
Two months in, it is clear the ANC has taken the low road.
Since the election, and at a staggering rate, the ANC government has taken decisions that scale up the pace of state capture, patronage, corruption and cadre deployment that have become the hallmarks of Zuma’s ANC.
The first clear signal was a reckless and baseless attack on Finance Minister Gordhan in an attempt to remove the ‘internal opposition’ at the Treasury, the outcome of which is still uncertain.
What is certain is that investors and ratings agencies are horrified.
The attack on the Treasury was aimed at eliminating obstacles to the government’s plans for the nuclear deal, SAA, the presidential jet and other opportunities for corruption.
Sure enough, Zuma-crony Dudu Myeni was swiftly and irrationally reappointed as SAA board chair, despite SAA posting a R5.6 billion loss for the last financial year.
The trillion rand nuclear deal was confirmed as going ahead under a veil of secrecy, despite massive public resistance, and a compelling argument against it, and the first corrupt contracts relating to the deal were signed this month with connected cronies.
Both the 2016 electoral result, and the ANC’s response to it, has accelerated the process of electoral change towards true multi-party democracy.
By 2019, the ANC will have ruled for a quarter century. It is high time for a shakeup. A loss of power nationally will cure the party of its worst afflictions.
It will teach the ANC a much-needed lesson in political accountability, and shatter the arrogance that naturally sets in with prolonged power. It will smash the ANC’s patronage network and cut its channels of corruption.
It will rid the party of its copious dead wood: those individuals who place personal enrichment over serving the public good.
Voting the ANC out of power will also be the rite of passage that establishes South Africa as a fully-fledged democracy, whose citizens will have finally learnt that a vote is a means of holding an incumbent government to account, and not a measure of allegiance.
We will all be the better for it.
Tags: 2019 Elections