‘Polls to be fought on the real issues’

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says the 2014 elections will be fought on policy instead of ideology.

An election staffer checks an ID document of a voter, 18 May 2011. Picture: SAPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Political analyst Ralph Mathekga believes economic policy is likely to play a greater role than ever in the 2014 General Elections.

This as the country battles with service delivery issues, inflation, fuel price hikes and unemployment.

A Democratic Alliance (DA)-led march in central Johannesburg on Wednesday, which quickly descended into violence, saw the opposition demanding the ANC give greater credence to job creation in their manifesto.

At the same time, Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) today called on supporters to continue protesting service delivery concerns.

The controversial politician said demonstrators should not destroy state property.

Malema promised to increase social grants should he be elected to power.

Mathekga believes issues like these show major parties are debating issues more specifically than in previous polls.

He says these are simultaneously becoming more important to voters as history and ideology fall somewhat to the wayside.

"We are beyond rhetoric at this point because if you look at the type of questions being asked about what's going on in the economy, you have a much more probing kind of enquiry from opposition parties as to how the ANC is going to deliver jobs."

Mathekga says massive divisions remain in schools of thought and ideology, but all sides are looking at problems more carefully.

CAN THE STATE HANDLE ITS POLICIES?

At the same time, Mathekga says the capacity of the state to put policy into action is probably something that should be given more attention.

"Maybe we are way ahead of ourselves. We are talking about policy, but we can't even get smaller things going on well within the public service."

Mathekga says the EFF's bark is a lot worse than its bite.

"I believe the EFF just want to cultivate on the existing social economic discontent that exists. I don't think there is a level of commitment in the EFF to implement what they are talking about. They can't even work it out the details."

He says the party won't achieve enough of the vote to make any real difference to policy and is likely to reform itself after the vote.

On the DA's march against ANC policy, Mathekga was unsure whether the dramatic nature of their statement was necessary.

"It is quite positive but also, I don't know why they had to march to express their political concerns. Certainly, politicking, grabbing headlines - they have achieved that. But by them going on a march, they're actually saying that we believe you can actually implement the policies we're talking about."

He says this seems to give validation to the ruling party rather than giving voters the belief that the DA could do better.

However, he slammed the ANC for heavily resisting the march, saying this should not be the attitude of a ruling party.

To listen to Mathekga's full interview with The Money Show's Bruce Whitfield, click here.