White South Africans seem to be prone to dangerous manifestations of electoral stupidity. Apartheid immediately springs to mind - not only did whites endorse it with massive electoral majorities, but they persisted at this insanity for almost 50 years.
Thus it should come as no surprise the ANC is hoping in the May general election to draw its biggest share yet of the white vote. Yup, the party that has implemented affirmative action, racial quotas and property expropriation is hoping for a white-vote bonanza.
The Sunday Times reports that according to research conducted for the ANC, the white vote could make all the difference in Gauteng. In the 2014 provincial elections, ANC support dropped from 64% to 54%, and in 2016, the ANC lost Johannesburg and Tshwane. An Institute of Race Relations (IRR) survey puts the ANC vote at 42% in Gauteng. That’s tantalisingly close for the DA, which got 31% in 2014, and the EFF, which got 10%.
Opposition coalitions might be irrelevant. Gauteng Premier David Makhura says that with white voter support running at 8%, the highest yet for the ANC, the party is hoping to keep its chin above 50%.
Behind this development is what the ANC calls the “Cyril factor” - the popularity of President Cyril Ramaphosa in the white community.
“We’ve never had such high support among white voters, even during the Mandela years,” said Makhura.
The DA will scoff at the predictions, especially since the IRR research found that nationally, only 1.1% of the ANC support would come from whites, 2.2% from coloureds, and 0.5% from Indians. Nevertheless, the DA has reason to be worried.
There is a lot of social media buzz and braai-fire talk among whities about how important it is to bolster Ramaphosa’s position against the black nationalists in former president Jacob Zuma’s camp. In this scenario, whites should vote ANC to ensure the party performs well enough to make Ramaphosa immune from being ousted.
Let’s ignore for a moment the embarrassing hubris of less than 10% of the population fantasising about dashing into the fray to save Good King Cyril. But just the logic of voting for the ANC, not because you like its policies but because you like its leader, is so tactically and strategically flawed that one hardly knows where to start.
For one, the ideological direction taken by the ANC is not determined by one man, but by a collective. It’s a collective dominated by the Left - the unions and the SACP - and a grass-roots membership which, taking its cue from the populist appeal of the EFF, it is moving steadily further Left.
Ramaphosa could no more reverse ANC policy decisions on expropriation without compensation or the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank than he can levitate. Such decisions depend on the party. If whites want to “save” Ramaphosa, they had best join the ANC branch nearest to them.
If the ANC puts before the electorate - as it has - a slate of really bad policies and is then rewarded with a solid electoral victory, this will increase, not decrease, the likelihood of the poor policies being implemented.
No need to overthink. If you want the ANC nudged Left, vote EFF. If you want to nudge it to the Right, vote DA or - that’s the beauty of proportional reputation where no vote goes wasted - for any party with laissez-faire policies that chime with your beliefs.
And if the present government is the Goldilocks solution - just right for you - vote ANC.
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** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.