Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Thursday, September 15, 2005

South Africa's penchant for political personalities
Rhoda Kadalie writes a very good article in today's Business Day on the cult of personality in so many of our local political parties. This has always been an issue in South African politics, and whilst Mandela used this as a huge positive, the majority since, especially in opposition, have brought out the worst in their parties. Kadalie cites the IFP as an example, and has a thorough look at Patricia De Lille's ID, which is currently in its death throes. He writes:

"The cult of the personality has boomeranged on a party that has been mesmerised by a politician who made her name in reaction to ANC misrule rather than in response to a new political direction needed for the country.

Since the ID’s ignominious start, it has deflected attention from its problems by carping at the official opposition and supporting the ANC on all major budget votes — 32 out of the 34.

The ID is rarely in Parliament when budget votes are passed, and at no stage were there more than two of the seven MPs in the National Assembly. Under De Lille’s leadership, the ID has become a lame-duck party and is everything but independent or democratic, hence its increasing flirtation with the ANC and consensus politics, whatever that might mean.

As a new kid on the block, and after just two years, it seems to have had a fair share of thugs and thieves as members, leaving those few honest souls who joined the party for noble reasons once again in the wilderness. It is an important lesson for those who chase after personalities rather than clear political policies and programmes."