20 April 2009

Politics, politics, politics

After the busyness of Holy Week and Pascha, there's a bit of time to notice the political turmoil in the country as we prepare for a general election this week.

The newspapers are saying that the problem in this country is that we only have Mickey Mouse opposition parties. That's true, of course, but now we have a Mickey Mouse governing party as well. They all come up with vacuous or silly slogans. There's no wit in them, nothing to stir enthusiasm, nothing to inspire confidence.

There was a headline in one Sunday newspaper that Cosatu felt aggrieved that its alliance partner, the ANC, was not considering Cosatu candidates for top posts in party lists. Well, what did they expect? They supported an opportunist candidate to lead the ANC, one who was quite clearly trying to be all things to all men in order to gain support. Newspaper columnists try to point out that an election should not be a popularity context, but that is what our politicians have turned it into.

They tell us that this or that ANC luminary is joining the breakeaway Congress of the People Party (COPE), or not, or thinking about it, or thinking about returning to the ANC. The problem is that if all the competent people in the ANC leave and join COPE, the ANC is in all probability going to be the government after the election, so having the competent people leave it for the opposition is likely to be a mixed blessing.

The Democratic Alliance looks slightly better under Helen Zille than under Tony Leon. It's no longer trying quite so hard to be the party of the white right. The problem is, having set out to, and largely succeeded, in attracting the support of the white right, if they are no longer trying to attract that support, they might find it evaporates, and drifts to the Freedom Front Plus (plus what, one wonders?). But as in Tony Leon's day, some of the DA's campaign slogans are an insult to the intelligence of the voters. There is the same old mantra of stopping the ANC from getting a 2/3 majority, but under our electoral system a vote for any opposition party could contribute towards that.

A Sunday newspaper published a specimen ballot sheet. There are 26 parties contesting the election (trimmed by the Independent Electoral Commission from 114). But half of them I have never heard of, and have no idea of their history, leaders and policies. If the media won't inform us, who will? Otherwise, how can we make an informed choice?

The political leaders in this week's election are the most uninspiring bunch ever. Where are the Mandelas, the Sisulus, the Tambos, the Helen Suzmans? It must surely be the most apathy-inducing election in our history. And yet it is very important to get out there and vote. Vote for someone, anyone. I've been informed that floor-crossing has now been abolished, and so one's vote will count again. But how many people know that?

Dion Forster posts A call to prayer and guidance for casting your vote in the South African Elections - 22 April 2009. A Critical Juncture!:
Please could I encourage every South African, and every Christian (and person of all other faiths) in South Africa to take seriously their responsibility to see that our nation makes the right choice at this juncture of our history!

1 comment:

The Scylding said...

If I wanted to vote, I could have done so last week (I'm still registered), but would have had to fly to Toronto / Ottawa. Or San Francisco. But then again, even if I did, who would I have voted for?


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