Tough love is what's needed to save ANC
ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa kicked off the party's 2014 election campaign this week by declaring: "The time for talking is over. We want action, and Action Man Jacob Zuma will ensure that this country moves forward."
But what if "Action Man" continues on the same inactive and uninspired path he has trod since 2009? What should voters do?
The greatest act of love anyone who cherishes the ANC can perform for the party in 2014 is reduce its electoral majority. They should vote for an opposition party, any opposition party.
They should not do so because they have fallen out of love with the ANC. For many, such a thing is near impossible. The ANC is not in their blood. It is their blood.
They should do so because what the ANC has built, the ANC seems hell-bent on destroying. To protect the ANC from tarnishing, stamping on and destroying its own glorious achievements, they should send the party a love letter. It should be a love letter that the party's leaders can understand. It is a love letter that says: "If you continue to treat us, the voters, and our party in this way, we shall kick you out of power."
These South Africans can remind the party that it is the servant of the people, not of traditional leaders. They should reduce the ANC's majority to just over 50.
Most of the opposition is unlovable, and some so downright objectionable that it is impossible to conceive of being drawn to vote for them.
Why would one vote for a party so right-wing and intolerant as the African Christian Democratic Party?
Why would one vote for a party with so much predilection for in-fighting as the Congress of the People?
Then there are the parties that are merely irrelevant. Can the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania - or its numerous off-shoots - say why they still exist? What about Azapo, a party that comes with so much admirable history and intellectual rigour yet is so feeble and facile today?
The ANC's grip on the psyche of many South Africans - black and white - is loosening, but its hold on many hearts remains so tight that for many it is anathema to even think about putting one's cross anywhere else but near the ANC's colours.
South Africans vote ANC despite the horrific education system the it has perpetuated for the past 18 years even though our heads know that to do so is wrong.
We do it despite the looting in Nkandla and the cynicism at the heart of our parliamentary politics.
It was interesting to see Zackie Achmat, a long-standing ANC member and a hero of the HIV/Aids struggle, saying that he will give up his ANC membership.
"If Zuma is elected, I don't want to be a member of the ANC any more," Achmat told the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld late last year.
"The party needs a leader with integrity, someone above reproach who doesn't hesitate to take action against corruption . the president is indefensible, and the ANC is no longer the party I joined in 1990."
Zuma has been re-elected. To show his displeasure, Achmat and those who hold his view should vote - for someone else.
However, many will boycott next year's polls instead of exercising their right to vote - the single most important time in which to register their displeasure.
They will stay at home because they cannot imagine themselves voting for any other party.
Then they will wonder why the ANC can be so arrogant as to build one man a house for R240-million while our children are taught under trees.
It will be because they did not vote, and if those who are unhappy about the ANC leaders' shenanigans do not vote then they will get the leaders they deserve.
It is time for South Africans, particularly those who harbour a deep love for the ANC, to be educated in tactical voting.
According to Wikipedia, "tactical voting (or strategic voting or sophisticated voting or insincere voting) occurs in elections with more than two candidates when a voter supports a candidate other than his sincere preference in order to prevent an undesirable outcome . For example, in a simple plurality election a voter might sometimes gain a 'better' outcome by voting for a less preferred but more generally popular candidate."
A better outcome than we have today, for the ANC as a party and for the country, is one that warns our leaders that they can lose power.
It is an outcome that strips our leaders of the arrogance of a huge majority and allows them to enjoy the humility, and pride, that comes with knowing that one has been asked to serve for five years only. Not, as some believe, until Jesus comes.