William Saunderson-Meyer
2 minute read
19 Apr 2014
10:00 am

Vukani! Spend your widow’s mite wisely on May 7

William Saunderson-Meyer

Power is the currency of politics. So it's bizarre when former Cabinet ministers suggest that voters should throw away their votes – their widow's mite.

Launched this week, the “Sudikiwe! Vukani! Vote NO!” campaign – translated as: “We are fed up!’ ‘Wake up!… ” – is spearheaded by former Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils and former Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.

Madlala-Routledge explained that the campaign is meant to give disgruntled voters a way to “express their disillusionment” with the ANC. Voters should either spoil their ballot or vote for an unspecified minority party.

But the campaign got off to an unfortunate start when it appeared that many voters misunderstood it as a “don’t vote” campaign. And the organisers – self-proclaimed socialists – seem only belatedly to have realised that the campaign might benefit the pro-business DA.

The campaign is tactically inept and strategically confused. Launched late, it smacks of impulsivity and a lack of planning. And if it’s meant to make the ANC return to the socialist path, it would make sense to specify left-wing parties disenchanted ANC supporters should vote for.

Kasrils won’t want “no ANC” voters to turn out for the African Christian Democratic Party or the Freedom Front. So he wants them to favour the hard left: the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo), the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) or the as yet electorally untested Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

More support for the PAC and Azapo would certainly make the success of the “Sudikiwe! Vukani!” campaign measurable. They are minor league players. In 2009 they got a mere 86 000 votes in total and two parliamentary seats.

But here’s where things get difficult for Kasrils and Co. The PAC is in an electoral alliance with the EFF. And the EFF, for all its socialist and revolutionary rhetoric, is a neo-fascist nationalist movement.

Moreover, it’s led by a bile-spitting racist. Julius Malema was expelled from the ANC for “lack of discipline”. He’s racked up fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering charges, as well as a R16 million tax bill for tenderpreneurial activities that culminated in his provisional sequestration. He is what communists like Kasrils call a “rent-seeker”. So Kasril’s anti-ANC moral high road is looking a little rocky.

How much simpler it would be if there were a true socialist party to turn to. Wait a moment, though, there is – the South African Communist Party (SACP), to which both Kasrils and Madlala-Routledge belong.

The SACP has been a partner in government for 20 years. Always well represented at Cabinet level, it has pontificated endlessly about democracy and socialism, But it has never had to contest an election.

The SACP is not about to abandon this cosy clientilism. SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande has lashed out at the “Sudikiwe! Vukani!” organisers as “well known factory faults”.

The one great advantage of SA’s proportional representation system is that every vote counts. It’s worth emphasising. Every. Vote. Counts. You have only one vote.

Spend your widow’s mite wisely.