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Sentletse Diakanyo: The political silly season

Some call it a silly season, but whatever it is, political parties are in a state of frenzy and all jostling for the attention of the people they have neglected in the last five years. Old gogos are receiving high-profile crooks and babies are being kissed by dodgy men who pretend to care about them and feign interest in changing their living conditions. Everyone wants to emerge victorious and govern the country. Some political parties merely exist to be served electoral crumbs. They serve no useful purpose to the poor majority. Parties with no hope of ever achieving over 5% of the total votes are in all honesty a total waste of everyone's time and energy, but our electoral system allows chancers and pretenders to the throne the space to exercise their democratic and constitutional rights.

The 2009 elections promised to change the nature of politics with the emergence of the Congress of the People (COPE). There was a significant amount of excitement and hope for a formidable alternative to challenge the African National Congress (ANC), which people had suddenly realised had run out of ideas and been hijacked by crooks and so on. The emergence of COPE exposed the immediate demand and desperation by the people for the credible alternative to the failed and corrupt ANC. The Democratic Alliance (DA) does not appeal to the significant majority of our people. They lack the necessary political charm and all those wonderful things. The DA has positioned itself as a party that is primarily concerned with the preservation of white privilege and serving the interests of white capital. Their policies insist on disregarding the significance of race in responding to the economic question and in redressing the historical imbalances that continue to define society. The primary constituency of the DA is white, although they would want us to believe otherwise. They are allowed to be delusional. They have positioned themselves in a manner that restrains them from formulating and articulating policies that directly appeal and serve the interest of the poor majority. They have only themselves to blame. Being primarily concerned with elevating the interests of the wealthy minority about those of the poor majority has unfortunately confined them to a perpetual state of opposition politics. They will never be a national government.

What is the alternative, if any? COPE has disintegrated under the weight of nonsensical factionalism. What appeared to have been a promising and credible alternative died a natural and premature death. They succeeded in making the ANC pee on themselves a bit, but that was it. Their procurement of a certain reverend as a presidential candidate and the infantile squabbles between Lekota and Shilowa was a nail in their coffin. COPE now continues to exist as political has-beens struggling for relevance. It is an embarrassing situation for anyone with some modicum of self-respect to find himself. But anyway…

The emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was met with general scepticism in some middle-class and upper-class corners. The radicalism and militancy of EFF, which agitates for a total destruction of an exploitative capitalism order, would ordinarily give heart palpitations to those benefiting from the general exploitation of the poor. The campaign for nationalisation was viewed as a direct threat to the economic prosperity of the few elite who rose to the commanding heights of the economy by standing on the backs of the poor and screwing them along the way. The demand for expropriation of land without compensation was not going to be met with great jubilation and flying confetti by the upper-class that benefitted from colonial and apartheid thuggery. But the agitation for radical change by EFF resonates with the poor majority. These are the people on whose economic repression and exclusion the current capitalist order was established and prospered.

But is EFF a credible alternative? South Africa demands a political party that would decisively address the historical question of land and overhaul the economic structure that was established to exclude the majority and benefit the few. Social cohesion, equality and harmonious coexistence among all races, tribes and gender are at the core of the making of a prosperous society. No society can remain peaceful and achieve its potential in the midst of the repulsive racial and income inequalities. Understanding that the economic emancipation of the majority is in the best interest of the country and everyone, is the beginning of acceptance that radical and immediate change is necessary and non-negotiable. The need for preservation of narrow economic interests is counter-productive and will not advance society to where we imagined it in the future and will breed unnecessary discontent and spark the flames of a violent revolution.

We must all be tired of violence and that is evidenced by the growing number in the middle-class that recognises that the current exploitative conditions are not sustainable and necessary. The suspicion with which they initially viewed the emergence of EFF has gradually transformed into rising curiosity about what it stands for and seeks to achieve. Many now seek to contribute and be part of the struggle for radical economic transformation and the emancipation of the majority from their shackles of poverty.

South Africa cannot address the lingering socio-economic problems and prosper by continuing to do more of the same and expect a different outcome. Someone said that is a true measure of insanity. We cannot be defining ourselves as mental retards by continuously voting for the same party that has failed in 20 years and expecting a positive outcome. There are many despondent people who have resigned themselves to a miserable existence under the corrupt ANC regime, purely because none of what existed presented them with a credible alternative that will initiate immediate and radical change. Voters now have choices. There is now something for everyone from the right to the left, with something somewhere in between. Now let us stop whinging and go out and make the change we all deserve!

Follow Sentletse Diakanyo on Twitter: @Sentletse