For party hacks, the decision about where to put their cross on election day is easy. They don’t need persuading; they don’t need to think. They’ll just put their cross next to the party they will follow to the end of the world, if need be. Of course, in most cases it is more about the leader than the party and that is probably more dangerous.
Others, like me and most others, I assume, do not have it that easy. We will try to assess the track record and history of each party in an attempt to make sure that they are worthy of our vote. The unfortunate thing is that even those who analyse parties before we decide whether we should vote for them, often base our assessment on political leaders as opposed to political parties.
This is, I suppose, a natural thing to do. People tend to make many of their decisions based on personalities rather than policies.
There are some people in the ANC who will want us to believe that the governing party can self-correct after almost 10 years of going wayward. They blame their loss of direction on one Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, who appeared to be more interested in his, his family’s and some other family’s well-being as opposed to the country’s well-being.
Since Cyril Ramaphosa became president of the ANC in December 2017 and president of the country on Valentine’s Day last year, his disciples in the ANC have been talking about a new dawn which will purportedly put our country back on the path to economic and social recovery.
He has made nice noises and some of the right moves and has been trying to promote a collective responsibility mindset among South Africans, something that has not been accepted universally. Many people feel the ANC is responsible for the mess that we are in and the ANC must clean it up.
Ramaphosa’s new dawn does not appear to be universally accepted within the ANC, which appears to be more faction-ridden than ever.
Many people are asking: if we vote for the ANC on May 8, are we voting for the “new dawn” of Ramaphosa or are we voting for a continuation of the corruption of the past 10 years at least?
The violent response to a book about the ANC secretary-general’s reportedly corrupt past has made it clear that there are people in the ANC who want to hold on to the past. As secretary-general, Ace Magashule is effectively the chief executive of ANC Inc, while Ramaphosa is chairperson. A stand-off between the two will have to come sooner rather than later. Who will win will determine the future of this country and not only of the ANC.
South Africans often naively believe in giving politicians the benefit of the doubt. They did it for years with Jacob Zuma and, before democracy, white South Africans blindly followed the National Party for almost 50 years of apartheid rule.
But we need to move beyond the notion of placing our faith blindly in politicians just because they are supposed to be leaders. I intend to think very carefully about where I am placing my cross on May 8. Over the next few weeks, I will look at some of the other parties and why one should or should not vote for them.
* Fisher is chief executive of Ikusasa Lethu Media. Follow him on Twitter: @rylandfisher
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.