Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Tony tries a long-shot
Tony Leon writes a piece in the Mail & Guardian which is a rather transparent dram of political persuasion attempting to align the ANC with the much-hated (in South African terms) Republican Party in the US.

Tony thankfully does not try to pin similarities in policy ideology, but under the leader "ANC has strategy and tactics of Bush's Republicans" he goes on to highlight how the ANC uses race as a diversion, similar to the way the Republicans used "Guns, Gays and God" to divert the US voting base away from economic issues.

Unfortunately, we have a president that uses race as an issue far beyond the call of reason, but to say that this is an organised, party-wide campaign tool is one conclusion too many. The ANC simply does not have to. The party has an ever-growing mandate, has a voting base that consistently votes along Apartheid struggle memories, and let's not forget, a two-thirds majority. Painting similarities with the Republican party's campaigning under their (markedly different) politicial realities is facetious at best.

That said, the DA needs to fight for something in the meantime. However, the Official Opposition's time will come when those discontent with the government's policies can see beyond apartheid liberation and vote on policies rather than party personality. But I suggest that moment has not yet found its horizon, and will probably not do so for another decade.

The DA needs black leadership at its helm. It's wishful thinking that the DA can effectively campaign in the townships as a party led by a white person, as sad as that is. As Trevor Manuel will undoubtedly have an incredibly difficult time being selected as the ANC's presidential candidate due to his colour, so Tony Leon will struggle to gain the black vote for his party with him leading it. The South African electorate still feels the rawness of apartheid, and it will choose to support black leadership in political parties for the forseeable future. The DA's recent congress retained the staus quo in leadership, but perhaps, a full four years before the next election, it's time to introduce and build the personality of a new leader. It seems a political necessity.