This weekend the ANC issued a scathing statement saying “the opposition is in disarray and lacks a proper election strategy, so naturally their focus is on us”. I found this an interesting deflection from the Sunday headlines screaming that the ANC was running scared about losing their grip on the country’s golden egg, Gauteng province.
The South African road to democracy was a rough one, achieved by the unyielding and selfless sacrifice of thousands of patriots. Our democratic founding father, the late President Nelson Mandela, spent his last 23 years attempting to preach forgiveness and reconciliation, albeit not wanting us to sugar-coat our painful past.
When the ANC accuses the opposition of “stealing our heroes, and our struggle history,” it is this great icon they speak of. They go on to accuse the opposition of stealing their ideas, songs, slogans and campaigning tactics. But they don’t stop there. The ANC states that the DA’s “American style of campaign” is also blatantly stolen from President Barack Obama’s election campaign and “has alienated it from their desired voters in Gauteng”.
Interestingly, the ANC also picked up on the similarities in the two election campaigns this past weekend. They alluded to very similar words. “We have a good story to tell”, used by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address being copied by Premier Helen Zille in Cape Town on Saturday.
The governing party says we must never forget that our democratic birth was hailed as a miracle. Doomsayers and those who wanted our democratic project to fail had predicted chaos and civil war – however, none of these things came to pass and the values of democracy and freedom of our birth still endure today.
Even the freedom to throw mud. We have all come to expect it of the DA as an opposition party coveting the highest office in the land to make the ANC the focus of their attention. Many hadn’t expected the ANC’s salvo, pointing out what some of us had already observed but not said out loud: that they are copying the ANC campaign step by step. And the Barack Obama one too, merely South Africanising aspects of it.
Some of the achievements that we can boast about as South Africans, compared to before 1994, are that millions of people now have water, electricity, sanitation and housing. It will obviously never be good enough until everyone is a beneficiary of these gains.
Freedoms that give critics the right to voice our opinions freely and without fear of violent state-sanctioned silencing are often taken for granted: freedom of speech and freedom of association. These and other amazing things that have been achieved bloodlessly should never be forgotten when we voice our displeasure at the various mishaps and downright thuggery of some rotten apples in charge.
Madiba’s death brought us to our knees as a nation, as we each ask ourselves how we can further his legacy. We owe it to his memory and that of all other heroes that brought us our freedom to continue to hold the president and his politician colleagues accountable so that they must deliver a better life for all.
I want to see electioneering that demonstrates a diversity of ideas, and not one like the DA’s that simply tells the populace how they plan to improve on the ANC’s existing strategy. Theirs seems to be a gripe about implementation. We now all know the what. The good story that I want to see the two main parties in South Africa tell us, is the exact how.