In her latest weekly newsletter, Helen Zille is calling for parliament’s current session to be dissolved and elections to be held immediately.
On the face of it, it seems quite a good idea – as Zille says: “It is now clear that President Mbeki is a lame duck. He has failed to lead, failed to inspire and failed to offer hope. He has made it clear that his government will not accept responsibility for the very real crises facing our country.”
Yet should such a motion be successful it could hasten the demise of our fragile democracy, ushering in a one-party state. The reality of our current political situation is that the DA just doesn’t carry the clout to make significant electoral gains.
There’s nothing wrong with the party’s policies: as a proponent of the Basic Income Grant, of an equal opportunity society and of broad-based organic and sustainable social transformation it is light-years ahead of the ruling party in the field of ideas.
Yet despite its policies being infinitely more beneficial for South Africa in the long term, it faces a major perception crisis. Sadly it is believed to be uncooperative and belligerent (the constructive role it plays in the legislative process is invariably underreported in the media). It is perceived as only supporting minority group interests – simply because its prepared to fight for minority rights. It is perceived as a racist throwback, hankering after a privileged past. This image is significantly cemented by the demonisation of liberalism by those in the ANC who believe in the movement’s perpetual right to rule.
Instead of tabling a motion for an election, the DA should concentrate on positioning itself in the hearts and minds of ordinary South Africans as a viable moral alternative to the impending totalitarian nightmare that is the ANC.