Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, May 21, 2004

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely"

First of all, Thabo Mbeki's state of the nation address is available off the government website. Click here.

I've been thinking a lot about the ANC's two-thirds majority recently, and absorbing the substantial media debate surrounding the issue. As I've said before, intensely authoritative Mbeki is, I cannot see him changing the constitution to hold onto power for another term. But what is imperative, is the development of a strong opposition to keep the ANC's power in check. But this is essentially the root of the problem, as a strong opposition cannot be foreseen in the perhaps the next two ANC terms.

In Leon's own party newsletter, he states "By our own analysis, the DA represents a staggering 76% of white South Africans and approximately 2% of black South Africans. Indian and coloured voters are fairly evenly split between the DA and the ANC, and small fringe parties such as the Independent Democrats and the Minority Front show evidence of ethnic support among Indians and coloureds. In other words, one of the untold stories of the 2004 general election is the extraordinarily high levels of ethnic consolidation." This ethnic consolidation cannot hold for the long term. As the ANC continues to bask in the post-1994 honeymoon period, with blind support from the Apartheid oppressed masses, the time will soon come where delivery will be the forefront of government, rather than our racist past. But to take advantage of this, opposition policy has to be on consolidation of their own power bases. Every political party will extol their challenges in crossing over to other ethnic voting bases, but in my mind, at least for the next ten years, this is simply not going to prove a strategy that allows for one party to provide a strong opposition.

Whilst minority opposition parties jostle for position as big fish in a small pond, their focus should rather be on partnerships that can create an inclusive opposition party that cannot be immediately dismissed as being 'anti-South African' or hold 'racist agendas' as almost all opposition parties are accused of being at present. The IFP and DA's partnership in KZN was a start, but more inclusivity is needed to take the mandate of the opposition beyond single ethnic groups and into an opposition that can be supported by a diverse cross-section of the population for the policies and promises they offer, rather than the enthnicity they represent.

Only then will there be a check to the ANC's power, and only then, will there be the requisite antidote to the mantra "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

On a different tack, have a read of this great article in the Guardian today, about both Bush and Kerry being part of the Order of the Skull and Bones when at Yale. Within the first year of Bush's presidency, all but one of the other 14 Bonesmen from the class of 1968 had spent a night at the White House. Conspiracy theory, anyone?