When attention was directed to the DA’s Helen Zille’s wooing of Agang’s Mamphela Ramphele to be DA’s electoral candidate, I wrote on February 3, 2014: “A voter staying in a shack and another in a suburb is a yawning reality separating the privileged from the unprivileged. To make separation redundant, equality is the route to go.” [Sunday World: Never Say Never in Politics]
The curiosity behind this in 2014 was how long will a democracy contend with extending an invitation to the ballot to both shack dwellers and occupants of opulent mansions, belonging to the same party and thereafter dispersing to their respective lived realities of superordination and subordination, last?
In the words of the DA in 2014, it certainly was a ‘change of politics’ and admittedly not the change of conditions out of which the politics of the oppressor camp and the politics of the liberation camp came into being in the first place.
This change in politics is what Helen Zille described as ‘realignment of SA politics’.
In Zille’s book, ending ‘racial politics’ by virtue of authors of black misery and beneficiaries of white privilege, as granted by an unchanging system electing blacks as its designated victims, but bringing adversarial experiences into one party (for DA to meet the optics of being a party for all) equates to ending ‘racial politics’.
In that setting, white privilege and black poverty, for which former DA leader Mmusi Maimane, was exited from the party, remain intact. The DA bothers no one about yearning for equality.
In the sunset of the party’s life, Nationalist Party leader, FW De Klerk, seized the opportunity for ‘constitutional continuity’ by hosting talks where participants came by invitation to finesse his preferred outcomes favourable to the survival of the political system in which he emerged as second Deputy President arising out of what is today known as the Conference for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA).
Effectively, the change being spoken about is one ‘of changing politics’ – the meaning of which is manifestly stark in the preservation of the status quo. Stripped naked of its pretenses, it simply means bring in the blacks in the unchanging system for its own legitimation.
At the launch of Change Starts Now, party leader Roger Jardine also said something in the direction of ‘changing politics’.
The differentiating factor, from the media’s allied perspective of Jardine, is possession of ‘struggle credentials’ which Zille presumably does not have. Implications from the media’s summation of Jardine, is possession of yet to be defined ‘struggle credentials’ that constitutes his unique selling point (USP).
This USP is most probably a distinguishing factor giving Jardine the urge.
This happens at a time when the Freedom Front Plus is on record as calling for a United Democratic Front (UDF) kind of mobilisation with principal involvement of what party chief whip, Connie Mulder, calls ‘civil society organisations’.
It is, nevertheless, a coalition of some sort that Mulder is mooting.
Taking cue from De Klerk’s seizure of opportune moment of the power that comes with convening, resulting in the initiation of a conference for a democratic South Africa (CODESA) the DA’s John Steenhuisen has similarly couched his leadership coalition aspirations of his own under auspices of the Moonshot Pact, the sting in the tail being the declaration of EFF as enemy number 1. The notable difference between De Klerk and Steenhuisen convening bids is that the former was still in power and the latter is not.
None should be mistaken to believe that De Klerk was acting on his solitary wisdom. Unlike De Klerk’s CODESA the DA’s moonshot pact finds Steenhuisen not in power, but hopes convening other parties will give him a ride to it.
The moonshot is floated in full view of whites having done zero to work in their communities to prepare them to live in a just society. Except for co-opted ones, the suffering majority remain bystanders to the exercise of the economic power the EFF has steeped its name to fighting.
The multiplicity of political parties that have sprung up are simply additions of more of the same sounding nothing in the direction of fundamental change and economic emancipation.
That said, white parties are – for all intents and purposes – effectively hard at work to seize the opportunity-power of convening other parties regardless of the economic structure it cares less to talk about.
Black parties have given no hint in the direction of convening themselves. Black parties are thus inadvertently left as dependent variables to be courted by either the DA’s led Moonshot Pact formula or FF+ UDF proposition. The declaration to dub EFF as enemy number 1 by DA and assumed consent from the rest of Moonshot packers may just work in EFF’s favour rather than against it as a voter proposition.
It is in this atmosphere that Jacob Zuma’s announcement calling for support of the MK party, laced with a sentiment of a patriotic front (PF) of political parties, centred on the plight of black folks, must be appraised. While emphasis of Zuma’s much-awaited announcement on December 16 was to the effect that he will not vote ANC, his parting shot was that canvassing for the PF and mobilisation for MK starts now.
What this PF entails is yet to yield clarity, but suggests that white-led DA’s Moonshot Pact and FF+ UDF proposition now have to contend with a Zuma’s mooted PF.
Stepping out of Zuma’s wisdom or advisability of him declaring he will not campaign for ‘Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC’, he has nevertheless staked out the need for a PF that evidently is something not welcomed to write home about in the coverage of his announcement. His locus standi in the ANC is mostly what has been the focus. Beyond his endorsement for MK, Zuma’s political future is yet to be understood with exactitude. Others though are convinced he has drawn the final curtain as an actor of SA’s political stage.
Preoccupation for the ANC is to stay in power or be returned with potential suitors from FF+’s UDF proposition or DA’s Moonshot Pact coalition.
Unsaid, for political correctness, by both DA and FF+ is need for black voters for continued survival in the face of 2024 elections. Both the DA and FF+ have reached saturation point in terms of mass appeal political messaging beyond the abstract calls pertaining to democracy.
The future character of what is meant by civil society organisations by invitation of FF+ spells an interesting redefinition to pretenses of being non-partisan in the exercise of public power by contestants in the political arena.
Change Starts Now has already roped in Daily Maverick’s, Save SA and former TAC’s Mark Haywood in its ranks as well as Helen Suzman’s Foundation CEO, Nicole Fritz.
Zuma’s announcement has triggered bewildering and complicated ballet moves on the political dance floor. While sounding to be ditching the ANC, he is remembered for saying it is cold outside the governing party.
As to how long the heat he has generated by endorsing the MK Party lasts, outside the ANC, the year 2024 is poised to be the deciding factor.
For now, SA changing politics seem to readily enjoy donor support, but changing actual conditions of the suffering majority seems to be too far a bridge to cross. Written by Corporate Strategist, Writer and Freelance Journalist, Oupa Ngwenya.
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Written by: Lindiwe Mabena