FIKILE-NTSIKELELO MOYA: Voting means looking at the past & the future


Decisions about who to vote for, or even against, are usually based on the record of the past and some anticipation of the future.

Contrary to what many, especially middle class, communities think, nobody votes with just the present in mind. They vote because there are things they liked or did not like in the past and believe that their vote will either keep what they liked or change what they did not like in the future.

Elections are therefore a bit like Janus, the Roman god with two heads that look at opposite directions - the past and the future - at the same time.

As we craft the future, we must learn from the past. One of the things we need to learn from the past is to avoid creating martyrs and heroes of those who do not rightfully deserve the attention and accolades.

Groupings and individuals such as Andile Mngxitama and Steve Hofmeyr are the types of examples who go out of their way to get some airtime and unfortunately, we humour them by engaging taking them seriously.

By the way, I am conscious that this very article could be negating what I am proposing, but please indulge me.
I do not agree the party slogan of Mngxitama’s BLF - ‘Land or Death’ - constitutes hate speech, as the Equality Court found this week. There are infinite ways of understanding the slogan without assuming that it means “killing someone”.

At this literalist rate, the courts could find a star-struck lover guilty of hate speech for declaring that they “would die for” their loved one.

What I do not get is the Freedom Front Plus obsession with the BLF. Just the other day they wanted them kicked out of the ballot paper. Now they are saying their slogan ferments hate and racism.

The only beneficiaries of such a court decision is the BLF itself. They now have a reason, and to them ‘proof’, that the statea aided the FF Plus, a party founded by apartheid era generals such as Constand Viljoen and has as its stated aims, the creation of a “Boer homeland” or Volkstaat.

The BLF’s right to exist is no better or worse than the Freedom Front’s. Both believe it to be their duty to defend the interests of their constituency, even if this is to the detriment of everyone else.

The Freedom Front is making a life out of milking the “swaart gevaar” bogeyman and using it to canvass support from those raised on the “dangerous darkie” narrative. They exploit the past mercilessly.

Still, we do not need to like what they stand for, but we must allow them the space to canvass their ideas and seek electoral support.

For better or for worse, the Freedom Front Plus and the BLF are products of our past, but do not have to be part of our future.

South Africa has too many pressing problems to spend its energy on single-issue lobbyists, obsessed with race politics.

Starting now and leading to the 2024 elections, we must create a society that makes such fringe and dangerously divisive groupings unnecessary and irrelevant.

Fikile-Ntsikelelo Moya is an independent journalist and former editor of The Mercury and The Witness.