Could SA be run by ancestor-obsessed politicians?

03 September 2017 - 00:00 By S’thembiso Msomi

A friend recently asked one of presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's lobbyists why he and others in their camp were so cocky about the ANC retaining power in 2019.
"Because even the ancestors are on our side. Can't you see? Look at how the opposition is tearing itself apart over Nelson Mandela Bay," retorted the lobbyist with a slight smirk on his face.
His belief in the supposed supernatural powers of the dead aside, one can't really fault the lobbyist for thinking that the much-spoken-about grand coalition is imploding.
For, to join former Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi in muddling a phrase, our opposition parties look to be in real and present danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of imminent victory.
Just this Friday, Julius Malema's EFF announced that its councillors would boycott council meetings in all the municipalities governed by the opposition because of unhappiness with the DA's decision to have the United Democratic Movement's Mongameli Bobani ousted as Nelson Mandela Bay metro's deputy mayor."Following the actions of the DA in Nelson Mandela metro, which demonstrated an arrogance of power and white supremacy, we have decided to stay away from all other municipality council meetings governed by the DA-led opposition coalitions," wrote EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. The EFF's threat came just days after the UDM took to the courts to challenge Bobani's removal.
The Nelson Mandela Bay saga has not only shown just how complicated and fragile coalition governments can be, but has also exposed the political infantility of those at the helm of the parties that stand to gain the most from the spoils of a seemingly inevitable ANC collapse.
What started out as a disagreement that could have been resolved by Mmusi Maimane and Bantu Holomisa having a quiet chat with the squabbling Athol Trollip and Bobani has escalated into a conflict that may, if not arrested, scupper efforts to mould the opposition into a formidable force to take on the ANC in 2019.
Yet, despite all of the ANC's current weaknesses, the opposition parties know that none of them has enough muscle to stop the ruling party on their own from winning the next election.
The DA may be growing with every election - and is likely to increase its share of the votes even more at the next polls - but on its own it can only hope to be a Conor McGregor in a fight with a Floyd Mayweather, who is representative of the ANC's prowess. And we all know the most likely outcome of that.
Hence, over the past few years opposition parties have worked together on a number of confidence-building exercises with an eye on turning this into a formidable campaign come election time.
They are planning a Codesa-like gathering at which opposition parties will deliberate on how best to reinvent themselves in the eyes of the electorate as a viable alternative to the current government.
But to succeed, they will have to leave their huge egos at the door of the conference room.
The DA may be the second-largest party in the country, but it needs to be careful not to impose its will over its potential partners.
Holomisa and Malema may feel that, as individuals, they are more experienced in politics than Maimane, but they should accord him and his party the status of a partner who is likely to bring in most votes in the envisaged national alliance or coalition.

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