Thursday, April 23, 2009

Work, life and the elections

This post is dedicated to all of you who have yelled, urged and cajoled me into blogging again. 

So the main reason I haven't blogged in a while, 3 odd months, is that my working life is insane .. my average day is 12hours whilst a rough one is around 19 hours. When late nights are followed by early morning for more than a few days, the ability to do much more than sleep when going home becomes severely compromised. It's all in the fabulous life of a management consultant!

To be honest with myself though, I haven't had much that really stirred my emotions enough, for me to make the time to blog. Today however, is different; the elections yesterday really stirred my soul.

Those of you who know me well, know that at heart I am an ANC man, that I believe that the party that brought us liberation will and should continue to rule in the public good, until as Mr Zuma says "Jesus Christ comes". But, simultaneously I am a firm supporter of COPE; because as a South African citizen, I believe that a 2/3 party system is a fundamental underpinning to a healthy multi-party democracy. I do believe that everyone in life needs a little pressure to be put onto them; that in the absence of a threat to the ANC's majority; the drive to ensure delivery will continue to be missing.

In this regard I must agree with the noted political analyst Adam Habib, that whilst the DA remains rooted in minority politics, that is attempting to scare-monger the white, coloured and indian populations, they can not emerge as a viable alternative to the ANC. That whilst slogans such as Stop Zuma, do indeed effectively mobilise their support base; they can never win the hearts and minds of the people. "A better life for all", not only explains the aspirations of the party it is infact a highly effective manifesto conveying all the multi-layered discussions around access to housing, electricity, water and social grants. It is therefore that I voted as the slogan so aptly puts it, "for Hope". Knowing full well that the possibility of COPE winning this election was non-existent that even the odds of becoming the official opposition were slim; but rather voting for the promise of a real viable alternative to the ANC in the 2014 elections and beyond. That COPE's policies often closely correlate with those of the ANC's does not disturb me in the least, for I continue to believe that these represent the most effective policies for this nation. The important thing is thus not to focus on the similarites but rather the differences in policies - for that is the key; not the parts of policy that everyone is in consensus upon. We all agree for the need for freedom of speech; yet no-one complains about this common position... Moving along swiftly and before this post becomes too much a analysis of the 3 main parties, I need to touch upon the mass hysteria that seems to be sweeping the country vis a vis the ANC's 2/3 majority.

There are 3 key elements that we need to all remember before we decide that Mr Zuma and the ANC's massive election victory, which is likely to have a 2/3 majority, means the end of this country as a functioning state:
1) The ANC has had a 2/3 majority for the last 5 years, the only major constitutional amendment during this time was the floor-crossing legislation. Remember if you will that this amendment was carried out on the request of the DA to allow for the dissolution of the DA/NNP alliance; remember also that this particular amendment was done with the support of 90% of parliament. Evidently the opposition parties aren't too worried about the sanctity of the constitution when the changes are beneficial towards them. Whilst the ANC may have the power to change the constitution, they are also the governing party and realise that any changes would likely lead to massive investor panic; and would thus have a major negative impact on the ANC's goal of "A better life for all".
2) The key possible constitutional amendments that people panic about are actually not possible with a 2/3 majority. They actually require a 3/4 (or 75% majority for those whose maths skills are decaying) majority to effect. This majority is required for changes to for example abrogate freedom of speech or change the term of office of the president.
3) Whilst the ANC if frequently portrayed as a monolithic organisation, remember that the people sitting in parliament are exactly that people. People not faceless drones, people who fought and suffered for the liberation of this country. People who saw their comrades laying down their lives for the freedom's that we now enjoy. Thus, I do not fear; even for a moment that they will now abrogate their duty to defend our democracy and our fledgling nation.