Tag Archives: elections

Friends, voters, countrymen!

South Africa’s elections are coming, and voter registration days have been scheduled for 8 and 9 November.

This is a great opportunity to help contribute to your democracy.

When: 8am – 5pm on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 November
Where: at your nearest voting station

Check out the Independent Electoral Commission’s website for more details.

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Zim unity government: Thabo’s toxic legacy

Part of Thabo Mbeki’s toxic legacy could well prove to be the disastrous unity deal he engineered between Zanu-PF and the MDC in Zimbabwe.

Democracy has been defeated in Zimbabwe, and this largely due to Mbeki’s willingness to legitimise Mugabe’s tyrannous regime through his chairing of the power-sharing negotiations. It was a marriage doomed from the start — and it’s not surprising that about four weeks after the deal was signed, there is still a deadlock over Cabinet positions.

On the weekend, Mugabe announced that Zanu-PF will control the state security apparatus as well as the most important ministries: defence, justice, media mines, land and home and foreign affairs.

It is clearer than ever that Zanu-PF has no intention of relinquishing power, and only acceded to the unity deal as a survival strategy. Mbeki was either too callous or delusional to realise this. However, that is beside the point; more importantly, Zimbabwe’s people are needlessly suffering thanks to our erstwhile president’s self-interested meddling.

The results of the March 29 elections have not been respected. Had they been, and had the MDC been allowed to form a government, aid and investment would be flowing into the country and reconstructing the decimated nation would begin.

Zimbabwe remains without a functioning government, its economy in freefall with inflation skyrocketing to an incomprehensible 231-million percent. Inter-account transfers have been banned by the Reserve Bank and queues for ATMs are hundreds of metres long. People are desperate, starving and unable to afford even the most basic goods needed to survive.

There are severe shortages of seed and fertiliser, so the country will be unable to feed itself. All in all, the outlook is spectacularly bleak.

President Kgalema Motlanthe has a responsibility to resolve the situation exacerbated by the machinations of his predecessor. The unity deal should be canned. He should step in to ensure that Zanu-PF surrenders its illegitimate power. He can do this by freezing bank accounts, implementing smart sanctions and slapping travel bans on the Zanu-PF elite.

On March 29, the Zimbabwean people voted for change. It is about time their decision, and democratic right, was respected.

This was first published on Alex’s Thought Leader column.

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Hitting the right note with the electorate

The official opposition has called for the upcoming general elections to be scrapped and for them to be replaced with Politics Idols – a singing competition with one singer participating from each political party. This comes after Helen Zille’s stirring performance (accompanied with spirited boogieing) of Never give up, the DA’s new anticrime song, outside a drug dealer’s house in Belhar.

The ANC is believed to be in favour of the idea, provided they can appoint the judges. Counter-revolutionaries such as Randall Abrahams and Gareth Cliff will not be included on the panel.

“If music be the food of love, play on,” Jacob Zuma said, tapping his tummy, at today’s press conference. He uncharacteristically sang his adversary’s praises: “For once Helen is making a constructive contribution. She’s always daring me to debate against her and yet she knows I would far rather do a dance-off.”

The cocksure Mr Zuma is reportedly feeling confident about winning. “I’m in good shape – it’s all that singing in the shower. The baby oil helps me to reach the high notes.” He plans to do a cover of I kissed a girl and I liked it but his newly appointed music manager Jon Qwelane has other plans.

“The great Msholozi will be singing something from The Village People. He’s at home in a rural kraal, so it’s appropriate.” Another option Qwelane is mooting is Money, Money, Money. “It’s absolutely fab – in fact it’s one of our favourite ABBA songs,” he explains.

When asked for comment on the proposed electoral amendment, the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa broke down, confessing he had never been much of a vocalist and hadn’t performed well ever since he and Roelf Meyer stopped singing from the same song sheet. Other irrelevant parties, however, seem to be quite welcome to the idea – including the Inkatha Freedom Party which plans to stage a remake of Epitombi.

A furious Patricia de Lille is singing a different tune, however. “Music is the tik of the masses,” she spat. “And it was heartless of Helen to torture that poor drug dealer until all hours of the night – it’s everyone’s human right to have a good night’s rest.” The ID leader is canvassing the party’s three Northern Cape supporters on what to do next, but is waiting for cellphone coverage to reach them before any protest actions are proposed to them.

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Make newspaper text bigger… or else!

His excellency the President of Zim’s sight has got so bad that he can no longer read newspapers. In an article on NewZimbabwe.com it is revealed that Mugabe has demanded that the font-size of state-owned papers be increased. As if that would give him any clue about what’s really going on!

Ndlovu told state media editors at a briefing last week that Mugabe had complained that he really wanted to read papers about what was happening in the country, but could not because the print was “the size of ants”, and asked the minister to tell editors of the state newspapers to increase the font size.

Ndlovu took the President’s message to the editors.

“We could not believe it when the minister said the President had told him to ask us to increase the size of the font. We all looked at each other amazed at what he had just said. We could not hold ourselves and openly giggled about it,” said an editor who attended the briefing.

This is another sign of the despot’s increasing frailty. Clearly he is in no state to be running (or, to be more accurate, “ruining”) a country.

The writing is on the wall – even if it is too small for that murderous monster to read. We may be closer to change than we think.

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A party by any other name …

A tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the DA was in desperate need of a branding overhaul was met with a broad spectrum of responses — from “DA who?” to indignant rebuttals from DA activists.

The reality of the situation is that that the official opposition is severely stigmatised. Negative emotions towards the party — from mistrust to hatred — is entrenched. There is the widespread perception that it is a minority party with minority interests. Many genuinely believe that it is a bunch of racist white reactionaries hankering after a privileged past.

There are two reasons (in my view) why these unfair misconceptions persist.

1. The ANC’s vilification
The ANC, that paranoid party which tried to topple Cape Town’s DA-led government almost a dozen times (and couldn’t), has led a sustained demonisation of liberalism. There are those in the ANC who believe in the movement’s perpetual right to rule.

If one reads the back issues ANC Today, it is only too clear that the party believes that to be held accountable by an opposition party is a threat that needs the harshest censure. To be blunt: the ANC will do what it takes to remain in power until — as Zuma says – “Jesus comes”.

2. A hostile media
Yes, it is a rather sweeping statement, but most of the media is openly hostile to the DA. The press goes to great lengths to portray the Democratic Alliance as unequivocally antigovernment and anti-ANC just for the sake of being the official opposition. The constructive role the party often plays in the legislative process (such as in ensuring the promulgation of the Civil Union Bill met its deadline) is invariably underreported.

Independent Newspapers leads the pack. But then with ANC acolytes jetted to Tony O’ Reilly’s (Independent’s Irish Lord and master) castle for fireside chats that’s hardly surprising. Slagging Zille and her party has a clear motive — to earn kudos from the ANC and ensure the survival of their rash of news outlets. One can’t do without those “Happy Hanukkah!” adverts from the premier’s office on page three, after all.

That the SABC is an ANC mouthpiece doesn’t help matters either. There have been documented accounts of bias, especially in the propaganda machine’s Cape newsroom where reporters have been actively pressured to report on DA and the coalition running the City of Cape Town in a negative light.

The poisonous fruits of Bantu education and a post-apartheid education system which is little better (and in some cases tragically worse) have meant that we have a populace largely ill-equipped to make empowered decisions about their political future. The enslavement of ignorance that apartheid did its best to achieve has not been dismantled by the current government.

Awareness of our constitution and of our democratic processes remains painfully low. And our democracy is paying the price for that. There is rising anger — and enormous dissatisfaction — with government’s performance. For many of the poor, trust and optimism placed in empty election manifesto promises has unravelled to disillusion and bitterness. Yet the ANC still wins enormous majorities at each election. Why? Partly because of the movement’s romantic associations with the struggle, but mainly because masses of people believe there is no alternative. They believe there is no other political party that can represent them and fulfil their dreams of true liberation.

Anger is therefore vented not at the ballot box but on the street — in violent protests and the murder of ANC councillors. This needs to be changed.

To stave off extinction and irrelevancy, the DA needs to reach out to the impoverished, capturing hearts and minds and positioning themselves as a viable alternative to the ANC. It needs to destigmatise its brand and become a visible, vibrant political entity in the townships and rural heartlands.

It is not going to be easy for the DA to counteract the negative perceptions held about it. Strategies far more complex than the ones I half-jokingly suggested last week should be developed as a matter of urgency — especially with the 2009 election looming.

Of course, the first step in the right direction is to accept that such perceptions exist.

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Zimbabwean quote of the day II

“The moment the people stop supporting you, then that’s the moment you should quit politics.”

ROBERT MUGABE

Source: www.cathybuckle.com

If only he were to follow his own advice…

With the release of the presidential election results suspended, a storm is brewing. Has the past few days been Zimbabwe’s “Prague Spring”? Things don’t look good; but should Mugabe and his fascist gang decide to cling to power, they are only postponing the inevitable. There can be no going back.

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Where to now for the billion-dollar banana republic?

The Zimbabwean election results took me by surprise. And what a wonderful surprise it was!

I had overestimated the ability of the entire Zanu-PF state apparatus to rig an election. But clearly their ineptitude got the better of them – or perhaps the people in power knew that change was inevitable so they ended up doing their election sabotage operation half-heartedly.

The opposition MDC – which would have rightfully won years ago had the proceedings been free and fair – now has more seats than the soon-to-be-former ruling party.

As euphoria fades and uncertainty grows, questions hang like a pregnant cloud over Harare. What will happen when the presidential results are released? Will there be a run-off? Will Mugabe allow himself to be wheeled off centre-stage? Where will he go – will the South African government give him sanctuary? Will he be granted immunity for all his heinous crimes?

And then there are, of course, the questions around the rest of Zanu-PF machine. How is the military and intelligence going to respond? And if they do, what will happen? My bet is that the soldiers are also starving. That they’re also sick of 100 000% (or whatever astronomical sum it is now) inflation.

I am also dying to know how the South African government – notorious for its dislike of the MDC – will respond to the new order. And how it will exploit the election result in its already deplorable treatment of refugees. Will they round them all up, shunting them home because the Big Man has fallen? Many will seep back through our border soon enough – because as it will take time for Zimbabwe’s economic and social systems to start functioning again, there’s not much of an incentive to stay.

So many questions. Only time will tell. But as Cathy Buckle sums it up so neatly in her latest newsletter:

It’s not clear how this is going to end but what is clear is that the avalanche towards change has started. It may take a few days or even a few weeks but we will continue to wait patiently until we can stand up with dignity and self respect and say that we are proud to be Zimbabweans.

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