The African Elections Expert

Democracy in Rising Africa

What the top 3 political parties are hoping to hook you with | The S.A Local Elections 2016 — May 14, 2016

What the top 3 political parties are hoping to hook you with | The S.A Local Elections 2016

The looming local elections have been labeled as critical due to the advent of; student movement protests, local service delivery protests, and demarcation violence. Politicians will, once again, descend upon us with their bandwagon of political promises that often seem unlikely to be fulfilled. The country is posed for an interesting contest amongst the top 3 parties, who will be flexing their muscle and jostling for prime position in the 2016 Local Government Elections. This is how they hope to hook South Africans on some key aspects of the current socio – economic condition.

A manifesto for the vulnerable

The entry of the EFF into local government politics is interesting when one considers the impact they have made in Parliament, following their coup of the 3rd position in the past national elections. Their presence in Parliament has been characterized by seeking accountability and the representation of youth and working class issues.

The EFF’s recent election manifesto continues to address these issues, seemingly, left unattended to by the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA).  In the address launching the EFF’s Local Election Manifesto, Julius Malema’s focus was on vulnerable industries.  He spoke about legislative reform in the mining, retailing, construction, farming and manufacturing industries that will ensure that workers are compensated above average living wages. These industries, in the past 2 decades, have been marred with worker abuse, violent protest, strikes and exploitation.

In contrast, the DA’s Mmusi Maimaine, in the party’s local elections manifesto, failed to address these sectors.  This exclusion was also evident in their past manifesto despite asserting, through their slogan, DA for Jobs. The party fails to go into length on how it will curb unemployment and instead refers to offering its electorate opportunities for employment by investing in infrastructure-led growth.

Beyond fronting – real economic equity

The last 20 years of ANC’s governance has implanted legislation that seeks to balance the scales on equality such as; Broad Bases Black Economic Equity act for businesses and both the Employment Equity Act and Labour Relations Act for employees. The EFF contributed its thoughts on these acts by promising to implement better BEE and Affirmative Action (AA). Concrete analysis on how these acts can be improved for better implementation was not offered.

A missed opportunity, by both political parties, that would have benefited the political discourse would have been addressing the antagonistic fronting exercises that plague certain business sectors such as; the lacking transformation in the construction industry’s Big 5 companies who are also the major recipients of multi-million rand public projects.

In addition, this discussion should include the lacking transformation of the board of trustees of the majority of big businesses, those in the top 40 companies on Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The lack of transformation within these boards translates to real transformation and equality in the workplace remaining stagnant.  Furthermore, the disparities in salaries between black and white counterparts remain a festering wound for black professionals.

It would have been very interesting for the DA to actually articulate their views on the spaces where transformation is transgressed and what can be done to achieve compliance. This is particularly important because the DA, in the last 5 years, has experienced significant growth from the youth black urban voter who seek to fulfill their aspirations and success within their career paths. The perception that EE and AA are reverse apartheid will continue to be challenged within the party and their pro-action in taking a strong stand on this will be of benefit to the political party.  However, one cannot ignore that any position that the DA takes in this discussion could plunge the party into a difficult position. Primarily as its traditional support base is already feeling alienated from the current political discourse of the country.

#Feesfalling – Access to education

2015 ended with wide spread student movement protests and the call against an increase in university fees. This has positioned the state of tertiary education as being critical to the country’s development, and perhaps, on a micro level, the ability for political parties to secure the youth vote.

In recognizing that there are gifted individuals, who lack means to access tertiary education, the EFF has promised to; send 15 000 students to the country’s best universities; increase capacity at universities; enroll more students at universities and increase the attainment of tertiary qualifications.  In addressing education, the ANC, through Jacob Zuma, used their manifesto to reflect on what they have achieved in education in the last 20 years. In failing to address the persisting cracks in the education system, the ANC attempts to erase the concerns of the student movements.

South Africans can appreciate the ANC’s efforts in increasing access to tertiary education through institutions being mandated to increase their intake of previously disadvantaged student. However, access to university, even for the qualifying remains a struggle for many students. The failure of a sustainable funding model remains a black mark on the current government.

The DA’s response to the burning education issue offers a solution for graduates who are unable to find employment. In their manifesto, the party promises a responsive local government, that will actively recruit the next generation of municipal officials through a graduate recruitment program. This proposal can be strengthened through collaborations between the businesses and tertiary institutions to create programs for self-sustaining graduates. Education has been recognized as a tool to eradicate poverty, but without employment or business opportunities, that tool is not effective.

In considering their choice for the local elections, the electorate should interrogate all these manifestos thoroughly and reflect on the priorities impacting their livelihoods and improving the socio-economic politics of the country. These elections are an opportunity for all these political leaders to account to the populace on how these promises will be delivered and lives systematically improved.

The purpose of the Youth – towards greater emancipation — June 30, 2015

The purpose of the Youth – towards greater emancipation

June is celebrated as Youth Month in South Africa, paying tribute to the school pupils and ordinary citizens who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprisings in Soweto. This year marks the 40th anniversary of that fateful day.

The aftermath of the events of June 16 1976 had dire consequences for the Apartheid government. The youth of 1976 was focused, had purpose and a common enemy. The apartheid government with an oppressive educational system that was meant to keep them enslaved.   They suffered physical and emotional scars they bore since then

In contrast, the youth of 2015 suffers a different type of struggle, a struggle for economic emancipation. The youth of 2015 suffers the same scars that are deeply rooted emotional scars leaving them angry, disillusioned and apathetic about their future. These scars are driven by poverty, lack of job opportunities and other economic inequalities. These scars are evident in their alcohol and drug abuse particularly in the disadvantaged communities. The education systems fails them as it is unable to develop them into entrepreneurs. This leaves most of the youth, many of whom are unable to get into tertiary institutions better alternatives after they school. Their future looks bleak as they are caught in an abyss of misery after school.

The Youth of 1976 fought against an oppressive system of government, Apartheid. The Youth of 2015 are fighting a different type of oppressive system. An economic apartheid that has kept them enslaved and entrapped in the abyss of poverty.

The purpose of Youth Month is to commemorate the sacrifices of those young people who took to the streets to rebel against an injurious educational system that would have left them subjugated and disenfranchised. Young people, of that time were willing to suffer all sorts of humiliation; arrests, beatings and tortured for educational emancipation.

Today’s youth, should move away from wanting to squander Youth Day away. Instead the significance of the past must be renewed. The proper commemoration of the day should be inspiration for the current revolution, a revolt against economic oppression. This year, Youth Month should be the beginning of a real opportunity of learning. The importance of Youth Month and Youth Day should be about replacing the continued legacy of oppression with empowerment and civil action. The youth must take back the power that was shown by their predecessors. The celebrations must be characterised with honour and respect as it is demanded that opportunities be for everyone. The role of young people in the liberation of South Africa, must not only be acknowledged but used inspiration for economic liberation.

Let the month become give meaning to economic transformation and inclusive growth toward the total eradiation of poverty and further development South Africa.

Africa Day Commemorative celebrations are an opportunity to reflect — June 25, 2015

Africa Day Commemorative celebrations are an opportunity to reflect

Africa Day is not only a celebration but an acknowledgement of the progress made by the continent in its decolonized state. It is symbolic of the determination of the people of Africa to free themselves from demonization and exploitation. It should also afford the continent an opportunity to reflect and review some of the issues that still affects it. Often referred to as the “Dark Continent”, Africa still labours under the image of an uncivilized continent incapable of finding its own solutions for the problems it faces.

In tandem with celebrating the day, it becomes just as imperative to address some of these issues that hold the continent to ransom. Firstly, closer to home, in South Africa, one wonders whether the displaced foreign nationals who have been affected by xenophobia and recently by the government’s Operation Fiela, can relate to the camaraderie that is around Africa Day. One would have expected that given the widespread condemnation that the South African government faced during the attacks of black foreign nationals, there would be programs and dialogue at grass-root level to address the issues that led to these attacks. One would have expected that this would be a period wherein fences were being mended and foreign beings enhanced with programs that would the country into a harmonious state. Instead the state finds itself engaging in institutionalized xenophobia.   This certainly opens up one of the biggest economies in Africa to further negative criticism.

In as much as this is the case, it becomes the continent’s responsibility to seek to understand why proportionally large numbers of Africans leave their countries in search of greener pastures elsewhere and identify solutions on how to bring back those in the diaspora.

Furthermore states such as; Algeria, Cote d’ Ivorie, Burundi and Sudan experienced election-related violence which has imposed itself as a full element of the African political landscape. Election-related violence in Africa has become a continuing reality; however often the research dedicated to understanding its patterns, triggers and consequences fail to identify a liable solution to address the problem.

Another challenge that still plagues Africa is the continued colonization of Francophone countries such as; DRC, Cameroon, Togo and Burkina Faso. This raises the question as to why the independence of these Francophone countries has been separated from the independence of the rest of Africa. The reality that France still maintains deep economic, military and administrative ties to almost all its former colonies overwhelms one, in what should be modern and democratic times. Despite their natural resources and wealth, these countries remain largely impoverished. These countries continue to be maintained through the promotion of French and a spectacularly lopsided external financing and debt rescheduling provided by France, a lopsided partnership that is left unabated.

Lastly, another challenge which one has found rather confusing is the consistent arraigning of African leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since its inception in 2002, the ICC has been found to have only prosecuted African leaders. This has opened the court to criticism that perhaps it is discriminatory and taking advantage of Africa’s perceived ‘weak’ global position. Critics have consistently argued that, the trying of Africa leaders at the ICC has continued to leave the continent open to exploitation. Others argue that African leaders regarded unpopular by the West, are victimized and are subjected to such prosecutions whilst those that are “darlings” of the west, do not go through the same indignity. This, in turn has raised a question within the continent and particularly to the African Union, of whether it is not time for the continent to create a judiciary body that will be capable of arraigning and prosecuting its own leaders rather than to seek a solution from external courts such as the ICC.

With all these factors in mind, Africa needs to reassert itself amid its European peers and take whatever steps necessary to rid itself of the legacy of colonialism that continues to plague it. Africa Day commemorative celebrations must endeavor to create platforms that continually seek African solutions for African problems.

World day for Cultural Diversity (21 May) – an opportunity for SA to limit intolerance — May 20, 2015

World day for Cultural Diversity (21 May) – an opportunity for SA to limit intolerance

21 May is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. How important is this day against the back drop of Racism, Afrophobia/ Xenophobia in South Africa. Is South Africa as inclusive as it is regarded by most of its inhabitants?

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development provides with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity to live and learn together. Understanding different cultures is very important to address stereotypes increase understanding and enhance cooperation among people from different cultures.

As a melting pot for cultural diversity, with its rich heritage and its vibrant people, one would expect that South Africa would be a country that is much more inclusive and accommodating of other Africa Cultures. On closer inspection however, one finds that this diversity is both a blessing and curse.

Our culture as African’s is our common identity, particularly when we consider the view of the global village. However, Sekou Toure says in order to achieve real action, one must be a living part of Africa and of her thought; one must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress, and the happiness of Africa”. Despite this one finds that our common history of colonisation and apartheid has radically shredded our sense of identity and our culture is now informed by our social, political and religious standing in society.

What we do not realise as Africans is that, that common history is in itself a culture that binds us all together. As Muthal Naidoo aptly puts it, “it’s a culture that is evolved, distilled and nurtured through colonial and apartheid separate development.”

This distilled culture is evident in the westernised norms that seem to prevail in South Africa. Our adopted norms and value systems are informed by western mentality. One can easily identify this through practises wherein various cultures in the country come under scrutiny for lack of understanding or appreciation of the culture.

For example, the coming of age ceremony that is known as a Xhosa Ritual where boys are in South Africa are initiated into manhood. During the winter season boys are taken to the bush where they are circumcised and be healed from the leaves of some wild plants. Throughout this period, they are expected go to the river and cover himself with a white clay. A tribal elder teaches those Xhosa etiquette and the proper way of paying respect to the spirits of their ancestors. During this period each young man learns Xhosa chants and songs. At the end of the isolation they return to the river to wash off the clay. At the end of the initiation process, parents buy their sons new clothes discarding old clothes from boyhood and replace them with new clothes for men. Upon release from the initiation school, boys/men come back to the community chanting “Ndiyindoda”, loosely translated to “today I am a man”.

This coming of age ceremony may be equated to the Jewish coming of age ceremony of Bar Mitzvah. During this time, it is common for the celebrant to learn the entire haftarah portion, including its traditional chant, and recite that. In some congregations, the celebrant reads the entire weekly torah portion, or leads part of the service, or leads the congregation in certain important prayers. The celebrant is also generally required to make a speech, which traditionally begins with the phrase “today I am a man.” Though these cultural practises are from 2 distinct communities, the purpose and to a certain extent, the ceremonies are similar.

Days such as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development are extremely important in the South African context in order for one to understanding that cultural diversity may be exploited as glue that intersects communities together, instead of being a repellent. The common culture that the country has may be utilised to heal the scars that have been brought about by segregation, apartheid and xenophobia and limit the intolerance of ones’ culture and traditions that currently exists in our society

Is South Africa ready for a new and improved opposition? — May 11, 2015

Is South Africa ready for a new and improved opposition?

With the DA upping its political game plan, is South Africa ready for a new and improved opposition? This seems to be the question, and not whether a black man is ready to lead the Democratic Alliance (DA) or whether the party is ready to be led by a black man. Rather the question is whether complacent South Africans are ready for a shift in the tone of local politics, that’s being effected by the DA.

The old guard has stepped back and is allowing young blood to take over the reins of the DA. It has always been seen as a white liberal political party. A label which for years has become a great burden for the organisation. The DA has always been viewed as a political party that caters for the interests of the white minority.

The DA has steadily grown its base from a minimum 1.7% in 1994 Elections to above 16% in elections thereafter. Alongst the improvement, black DA members have visibly climbed up the party’s echelons to leadership positions. A move aimed at being more representative in democratic South Africa.

One can argue that the quick turnaround in fortunes for the DA may undoubtedly be linked to its willingness to elect a black leader. Some have argued that it is too early for Mmusi Maimane, who was barely known 5 years ago, to fill this position. Others view him as a puppet. Critics argue that DA is not ready for a black leader but is accepting of trophy black leader who will window dress the transformation agenda for the DA. His past election campaigning and religious views have further fuelled criticism that he does not have an understanding of the demographics of South African voters, the poor and dis-enfranchised.

Despite this, Maimane’s sharp criticism of President Jacob Zuma earned him respect through his “Mr President, you are a broken man presiding over a broken society” speech. His popularity in the province during his bid to become premier of Gauteng also registered more votes than ever before for the DA in the province. In addition to these victories, the DA Student Organisation’s recent win of the SRC elections of Fort Hare, a historically black tertiary institution that saw the birth of some of our country’s prolific black leaders, is a clear indication of the DA’s rise in popularity and that may be linked to the “Maimane Effect”.

With the stage set for the DA leadership battle which takes place this weekend and the likes of Athol Trollip and John Steenhuisen, solidly supporting Mmusi. One thing is certain though, Maimane has turned out to be a force to be reckoned with within the party. With that one can expect change. The South African voters can no longer dismiss the DA as just another white liberal party. They will have to face up to its attempts and success in being diverse, inclusive and driving the agenda of a young, aspirant and outspoken voter.