I have been promiscuous with my vote in the past (see this Daily Maverick article for some whimsy and wankery on the subject) and I am loyal to political parties the way that Elizabeth Taylor was good at staying married to one person. But I don’t feel that I can vote for the DA next year under any circumstances. I will tell you why. (Spoiler alert: it’s because of the party’s handling of Dalindyebo, the Mad King.)
I voted for the DA in last year’s elections. Well, I split my vote between the DA and the Ubuntu Party (the latter party is a one-man show led by a guy who believes in alien overlords, in case you doubted my commitment to whimsy and wankery).
At the time I thought that I had plausible explanations for my choices. I chose the DA because I thought the party was, at the very least, a counterweight to the ANC. The ANC was crap last year and it is worse now. The party got a fright in Gauteng after last year’s elections and actually did a bit of spring-cleaning in the province in response.
At the time I felt vindicated by my vote, thinking that there was a place for strategic voting and that it was good to keep the incumbent party on its toes. I still think that strategic voting is a good idea, and that you don’t have to love a party in order to consider voting for it. However, my feelings towards to DA have shifted from indifference to antipathy. Put another way, my voting strategy has shifted from ‘anyone but the ANC’ to ‘anyone but the ANC or the DA’.
For a good summary on the doomed love affair between the DA and King Dalindyebo, read this article by Gareth van Onselen. It’s pretty damning as a precis of the DA’s expediency and cynicism in choosing to stick its tongue down the back of Dalindyebo’s trousers. The party wanted votes and it thought the king would deliver them en bloc.
Okay, so the DA has joined the ANC (and the IFP, and the NFP) in treating the rural poor like so much voting fodder. In many parts of rural KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape the local royal / headman / plenipotentiary tells the people who to vote for and the people oblige, more or less.
The problems with the concentration of power in the rural areas are much bigger than voting by proxy. Power-brokers in rural areas have been selling off mining rights without proper consultation with their communities. Traditional leaders, in the name of culture, want to push through legislation that would strip the rural poor of their property rights.
The usual suspects (ANC, IFP and Contralesa) are still trying to ram the Traditional Courts Bill through the system, a piece of legislation that has been repeatedly rejected by rural constituents who quite rightly recognise it as harmful, poisonous and unconstitutional.
Here’s the kicker: the dinosaurs in Contralesa have called for Dalindyebo’s sentence to be served by a
patsy stand-in, because ‘a king does not really go to jail.’
Faced with the choice of standing for democracy, equal rights and constitutionalism, or of endorsing a convicted criminal and pissing on the rights of the rural poor, the DA chose the latter. The party chose to throw its hat into the ring with the most retrograde and atavistic bumholes in South Africa.
I know that politicians lie all the time and that I might be presenting as charmingly naive with all this chest-beating and foot-stamping. It’s also true that the DA hasn’t directly endorsed the draft legislation that would really screw the rural poor.
The DA did, however, endorse a particularly vile representative of everything that is wrong with hereditary power in South Africa. It showed that all of its talk about ‘an equal opportunity society’ is nonsense. It showed that it can’t be trusted with my vote.
I don’t know who I will vote for next year. I know that it will be a party that rejects the Traditional Courts Bill and that believes that rural South Africans deserve the protection of the Constitution. So it won’t be the DA, ANC, IFP or NFP.