Local elections: Come November 1, how will voters choose?
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Will supporters feel betrayed and dump the ANC ? And what of the DA and its controversial election posters?
By Bongani Bingwa
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago; I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
Against his trusting nature, the scheming Iago arouses Shakespeare’s Othello to great jealousy in the tragic play. Iago wants Othello to believe his Venetian wife has found him unsatisfactory and has therefore become unfaithful. It makes little sense to the great strategist and military general – she knew what I was and chose me anyway he declares.
Desdemona knew he was black and loved him regardless. He vows to find proof before any action but as we know, once the seed has been planted and watered – it only needs time to grow.
When South Africans vote on November 1, they will likely be choose parties they know and vote for them anyway. Voters will not need to be aroused to feelings of outrage and disbelief, they will not be surprised by infidelity to the values the parties purportedly espouse, and as such will need little proof.
As throngs of clergy, politicians and supporters converged on the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Thursday for a prayer meeting to welcome Jacob Zuma from his brief stint at a correctional services medical facility, the black, green and gold of the governing ANC was in full display. In attendance were: Dudu Myeni, Ace Magashule, Mzwandile Masina, Bathabile Dlamini among others. Notably absent were members of the KZN (ANC) PEC. The lines are clearly drawn.
The former president was whisked in the dead of night in July this year to begin serving a 15 month jail term for contempt of court, after repeatedly defying the Commission of Inquiry investigating allegations of state capture. It was a stunning fall for a man who at the height of his power had seemed untouchable, unleashing an orgy of corruption and malfeasance during his time as president.
That we still have not heard from his lips when or how he met the Guptas, their power over him or if indeed he did surrender his considerable constitutional powers to the family to run the South African state, is part of why he was detained.
Zuma simply refused to tell us. He played a game of brinkmanship, and only blinked 40 minutes before the expiry of the deadline and was taken into custody.
We know the mayhem and destruction that followed – more than 300 dead, and an economy already on its knees due to a global pandemic was devastated by losses that ran into billions. All in protest at the incarceration of the 79 year old.
When the South African state failed to protect citizens, it fell to taxi associations and other disparate formations to protect malls and other public infrastructure, homes and businesses, following days of rampant looting and destruction. In communities with deep racial divisions like Phoenix outside Durban, vigilantes took the law into their own hands and dozens of people were shot ostensibly because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Expressing shock at the killings, police minister Bheki Cele confirmed that 36 people lost their lives in Phoenix – “Thirty people were shot, two were burned to death, one was stabbed and one was run over,” he said
What has since become clear is that many of the people who were killed in Phoenix were not targeted merely on suspicion of being looters. As one Indian resident told the Daily Maverick, “Who was doing the looting and theft? It wasn’t Indians, it wasn’t whites, and it wasn’t coloureds. It was black Africans. It was ANC comrades!” Cele called it “criminal acts of the worst kind which also took a racial turn.”
It may have been this comment that spurred the opposition Democratic Alliance to put up posters in the suburb declaring the vigilantes of Phoenix heroes and not racists. Forced by the party’s Federal Executive to withdraw them, KZN party heavy weight Dean MacPherson issued a limp apology for the hurt they may have caused, “some people.” Yet neither the leader John Steenhuisen nor FedEx chair Helen Zille have disavowed them. If we are to believe MacPherson went rogue why did Steenhuisen initially defend them and Zille, even after they were pulled down, refused to denounce them?
There is no telling how this will end for the DA but its own internal polling suggests that unlike 2016, they’re in for a walloping this year. Try as the ANC might to talk about unity and renewal, the spectre of Zuma looms larger than ever over the party. Speaking virtually at his welcome prayer, he told supporters that if an “enemy” was in one’s home, one has to get the enemy out. Hours later two senior ministers had to be rescued after being held hostage by so-called military veterans.
Come November 1st will we say we were deceived?
Surely we have eyes – how shall we choose?
Bingwa is the host of the 702 Breakfast and a Carte Blanche presenter.