The worst year of all awaits South Africa. Our 2024 may be the 2016 of the US. A fraudulent narcissist may end up as our president. Or an extremist like the Dutch anti-immigrant politician may win the popular vote and wait in the wings to become kingmaker.
Or, worst case, our 2024 may be the 2023 of Argentina where a megalomaniac with a few seats in parliament and who wants über-control over all aspects of civic and political life becomes our president.
South Africa will either be stuck with an ANC whose own leadership quality has been decimated by the 30% pass mark hell-hole they have doomed South African students into (a fitting recompense, I’d say) or it will be led by right-wing populist coalitions of the Javier Milei or Geert Wilders kind.
As said previously in this column, South Africa is ripe for a right-wing messiah of any hue, groomed by conservative nationalists and global financial interests with unlimited financial resources.
Such a messiah will adopt the rhetoric of good governance, inflation control, cutting government spending, reducing the public service, fewer ministers and all the anti-immigrant sound bites written for them by their globalist advisers and managed by communications and strategy agencies sitting in Europe or the US.
2024 will be the year of political theatre at its best in South Africa.
The voter will need the wisdom of Solomon and the insights of Plato to discern between what the republic will need to hold on to, its constitutional mission and what is fake news, ideological nonsense and sheer dictatorship dressed up as freedom.
Within every political party, there are tensions between what their donors want from them and what is in the public good. Populism is an exploitative and opportunistic practice that taps into conservative angers and aspirations and promises voters “the life like we used to have”.
The people who pitch up with money, and their political strategy agencies have bought politicians who will sketch doomsday scenarios about other races, religions and cultures and the destruction of life “as we knew it”.
There are billions of rand in the elections market for people who will peddle these populist horror stories from podiums – because the funders know the average voter wants peace, prosperity and their pensions secured. They couldn’t care about justice, equality, inclusive economies or redress.
They have designed multiple fake news stories of how justice, equality and redress have destroyed countries and their economies. The most dangerous part is that it will be led by people who claim freedom Struggle credentials or a political pedigree from among the most radical.
South Africa’s future and its 2024 elections are not immune to the machinations of big global capital and plotting populists who want “to see the end of corruption, an end to crime and violence, and an end to the government’s misuse of power and money”.
While the rhetoric taps into current voter moods and mindsets, what you are not hearing of are the freedoms that will be limited, the cuts in social spending that will thwart the progress of social justice, and the deepening of divisions between rich and poor. What you are not hearing is the sound of the economic and racial powder keg that will be lit.
No one would have thought that the US, which for years has been marketed as the strongest democracy with globally admired elections, would face serious questions about how its entire election system functions.
Our constitutional future is at risk in 2024. We have wasted at least two decades on political fights that have dragged us into the boxing ring of populism and opportunism where paid-for politicians are now set to be announced as the winners.
Stop looking at the faces or logos on the ballot paper. Go read our Constitution and see if you can find that on the ballot paper.
* Lorenzo Davids.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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