Friday, April 24, 2009

Less Is More

Another election in South Africa has come and is nearly gone. The ballot counting is still in progress, but the result is a foregone conclusion. It always has been; another landslide victory for the African National Congress. Another five years with nearly no effective opposition in parliament.

Here in the USA the elections didn’t really feature on any of the TV news networks, but BBC America and featured several clips about the election. The most interesting thing to me is that nothing has changed. The white folks still believe corruption and crime is the big issues while the black folks believe the country is doing swell. Nothing wrong! And I can even understand their arguments if one compare their current situation to what was available to them 15 years ago. To them they have made much progress.

In an article today on the website an IFP spokesperson asked if opposition parties are still relevant and needed. What a stupid question? Is this person in politics or not? Does this person want to live in a constitutional one party state or in a freedom to choose state? Well, seeing that the question came from the IFP that had another dismal performance at the ballot box I suppose it’s not strange.

The question should not be whether opposition parties are still needed, but how are they going to set aside their differences and create a viable opposition of not more than two or three strong opposition parties. In the current election there were more than 20 parties taking part in most of provinces; a whole bunch of Chihuahuas yapping away at the heels of the roaring lion. Ninety percent of the smaller parties individually didn’t get more than 1% of the national vote. The other 3 opposition parties (COPE, DA and IFP) total about 28% of the vote. (Note: Percentages quoted when about 45% of votes were counted.)

In my simplified view, and seeing it from an opposition point of view, a strong opposition or for that matter, a change in government is not possible if the myriad of small parties can’t form one or two consolidated parties.

A winning strategy is not to wait for the ANC to become unpopular and to lose an election, but rather to set aside the mostly petty differences of the small parties and consolidate to become a stronger opposition that can actual win an election. But how do you get all these little Chihuahuas to put their ideas of fiefdom aside and get off their individual shit heaps?

Cartoon pictures courtesy