At present, the ANC is in power and President Ramaphosa is leader of the country for just as long as the ANC chooses to keep him in power
In my daily wanderings I chat to people of all ages and persuasions and I’m sometimes touched by the general naivety I encounter.
People read about the findings of the Zondo Commission into state capture and smile and say: “At last we are rooting out the bad guys. We just have to elect Cyril Ramaphosa again and he will fix the rotten government.”
I’m sorry to be a wet blanket, but this election is not about electing a president.
All voters should be very clearly aware that we are not electing a president or a cabinet. We are electing a political party. Voters do not elect presidents in South Africa; we elect political parties.
At present, the ANC is in power and President Ramaphosa is leader of the country for just as long as the ANC chooses to keep him in power.
Let’s not forget that the ANC has chucked out two presidents quite recently. The real power in South African politics right now is the ANC’s national executive committee.
They have the power to hire and fire state presidents at will. They could easily decide after the elections that Cyril is too liberal for their taste, and boot him out in favour of a less, shall we say, “capitalist” candidate.
There are something like 40 political parties hoping to win seats in Parliament in the forthcoming election.
I am sure the ruling party is dancing with glee at every new party that’s formed. None of them can make much difference to whether the lights stay on or the crime rate rises or falls. But what they can do is steal a few votes from the major parties. In other words, every vote for one of the little “boutique” parties is, in effect, a vote stolen from the ANC or the DA.
It might be great fun to start your own little party and hold rowdy public meetings and offer your solutions for saving the country: “Free education for talking parrots! Jobs for the jobless! Hope for the hopeless! Jugs for the jugglers!”
Whatever. It feels like harmless fun, and everybody knows election promises are just noise, not to be taken seriously.
This time it could be less fun. The bad guys are waiting in the wings with open purses.
There are still a few government departments worth robbing. So, as you make your way to the polling station, repeat over and over: “I am not voting for Uncle Cyril or Aunty Pat or Aunty Helen. I am voting for a political party.”
Now it’s up to you.
The president decided to do a walkabout and visit ordinary people before the elections.
In one town he arranged to go to a retirement home and chat to the elderly residents.
In the garden he saw a very old lady sitting alone on a bench and staring into space. The president sat down next to her and smiled in his most charming manner.
“Good morning, Ma’m,” he said. “Do you know who I am?
“No,” said the old lady, kindly, “but if you go to reception they’ll be able to tell you.”