Reader Blog
Reader Blog

Don’t like the ANC, vote for someone else. But who?

By Sydney Ainsworth Majoko

The advent of democracy in South Africa should have brought with it a level of freedom not experienced before. One of the most difficult things one can face in a liberal democracy is having the right to vote but also a feeling of “damned if I vote this way and damned if I vote that way”. It shouldn’t be so but that’s the territory I find myself in. For the purposes of this piece I will come out of the political closet for you. I have voted one way since our first election in 1994, and I’m proud to say that my first vote contributed to bringing Nelson Mandela into power that year.

Increasingly I have become uncomfortable with casting my vote that way. I am one of many citizens who have come to the conclusion that the ruling party is rendering itself ineffective in its mandate in the fight against poverty due to its inability to transform itself into an effective unit due to leadership wrangles inside the party. I hear you say if you are unhappy with the way they are leading why don’t you simply vote them out, vote for another party. In other words DA, Agang or God forbid, the EFF!

I know it’s quite rich to say a vote for anything other than the ANC or DA is a wasted vote but that’s how I see it. Just tell me one significant thing that has come from any of the minority parties since we attained democracy. Even Patricia de Lille, with a significant voter base saw the futility of having seven seats in Parliament and threw in her lot with the DA years ago.

The DA has its roots in the former Democratic Party, the official opposition in the then whites-only apartheid parliament. When I’m asked why I cannot see the DA as a political alternative my unspoken answer is that I find it difficult to cast my vote into the same basket as the majority of the people who voted for years to keep me disenfranchised.

That’s a little harsh you might say: DA leader Helen Zille and her predecessor Tony Leon did so much to transform the party. Look, they even won in the Western Cape, the only province where they are in power, out of nine provinces. It’s also noteworthy that the Western Cape is the only province whose demographics have black Africans not in majority. In other words most of the people who vote DA in that province are the same people that kept me disenfranchised. The DA has chosen that province to be their flagship province, with party leader Helen Zille as premier.

My interests and the interests of the majority of the people in the Western Cape cannot be the same if they are voting for a party that could in 2009 find it acceptable to place in power a male-only provincial cabinet with their party leader as premier. Just as laughable as suggestions that no suitable female candidate exists to lead the ANC! Really?

One question that is on people’s minds but everybody is afraid to ask out loud is why is it so difficult for the DA to attract leaders with tested “struggle credentials”? Leaders who have become disillusioned with the ruling party? There have been three significant breakaways from the ruling party in the last 20 years. Bantu Holomisa and his United Democratic Movement, Mosiuoa Lekota and his Congress of the People and recently the Economic Freedom Fighters. Add to the list the respected struggle veteran, academic and businesswoman Mamphela Ramphele and her Agang party that’s four major political formations that have all failed to find common ground with the Democratic Alliance. And you expect me to vote for them?

The DA’s biggest failure has its reluctance to make a clean break with the past.

At the height of his political career then DA-leader Tony Leon led a campaign titled “Fight Back”, urging voters to “fight back” against an ANC two-thirds majority in Parliament. Political satirists had a field day insinuating that the actual slogan was “Fight Black”, since their opposition was the predominantly black ANC. Beneath the satire though lay a real concern by people who genuinely thought the DA had something to offer but were now worried that their party was waging a campaign based on the fact that there was something to fear in a “black” two-thirds majority in Parliament. That, dear Zille is what you ought to play away from if you are to gain some credibility in the majority of this country.

Recently, the DA has joined the continued persecution of Robert McBride. I know of no other person who has been hounded for his role in the struggle as much as McBride has, but he has fought back and managed to survive. In my eyes, and in the eyes of many people who were oppressed, McBride remains a hero, not for killing civilians, but for having nearly given his life for the cause of our liberation.

Now, when he gets nominated to lead a police watchdog unit and the DA leads the chorus of the people who are opposed to his appointment I get very disturbed. To the level of asking myself: Is the DA so bitter about McBride’s role in the struggle against apartheid that it would spend so much of its time fighting alongside those who wish McBride had been hanged for fighting for our liberation?

A man dubbed Dr Death, Wouter Basson, has miraculously escaped conviction for his role in the apartheid army, where, by his own admission he produced chemical weapons some of which were used against MK and Namibian freedom fighters. This man, because the National Prosecuting Authority bungled his prosecution, continues to practice medicine as though nothing has happened. The families of his victims have not had the privilege of hearing him apologise for his role in the atrocities that killed their loved ones.

The DA has been dead silent on the issue. Not even a word in support of the families of victims who are now only wishing that he can be struck off the roll of medical practitioners as consolation for his atrocities. Nothing from the DA. My question to the DA is: Why the silence?

I need to apologise to McBride for the juxtaposition above because no matter how many people make the comparison: his actions were for a righteous cause and Dr Death’s actions were in protecting a system that the United Nations had dubbed a crime against humanity.

As long as the DA keeps on appearing to side with former oppressors, those that were oppressed will continue to view them as not worthy of their vote. And please, don’t get me wrong, advancing my reasons for not wanting to vote DA does not in any way mean I will vote ANC. I’m about to drive under two e-toll gantries on my way home, brought to me by the ANC, need I say more?

Sydney Ainsworth Majoko is a blogger who writes in his personal capacity and runs a small business for a living.

Tags: , , , , ,

  • The weakness of the ANC
  • Part 6 of 6: Speeches
  • Part 5 of 6: Plenary
  • Part 4 of 6: Caucus
    • Dazza

      Even if you don’t like any of the parties, vote for the smallest one, because at least it’s one less vote against the ANC!

    • Daniel

      Voting seems to me to be an act that due to its once-every-four-year nature is too far removed from everyday reality or any meaningful participation in politics, and as such along with other reasons is ultimately only complicity in choosing your oppressor. I’ll be organising in my community and taking direct action instead.

    • Jem

      Absolutely and exactly! I think so many South Africans feel this way and have felt this way for a long time. The DA don’t seem to stand for anything but right now it’s feeling like better the devil you don’t know. I am holding out hope for Agang but when the time comes I will probably vote DA in the hope we can break the stranglehold of the ANC and remind them that democracy means if they don’t serve their people they are out.

    • Cappie

      84.3% of the people of the Western Cape are not white and thus not the people that disenfranchised you.
      As for DA leaders with struggle credentials – look no further than Helen Zille and Patricia de Lille

    • jon

      Cappie is completely right, Helen Zille broke the news on Steve Biko! Most of the Cape isn’t white, how funny. The DA is winning areas because of proven delivery and not race. I think as the years go on, as the voting adults become post-94 born people, the ANC will lose a lot of their ‘default support’.

    • Mariano Castrillon

      One vote for “any” party other than the ANC is a vote against the ANC.

    • Brandee

      I am always amazed by the universality of your articles. I don’t know much about African politics, being Canadian, but I can so relate to the frustration of not knowing how to vote because of the lack of hopeful options. A lot of people in my country aren’t even voting anymore (40% + of eligible voters) because of the lack of viable alternatives. There is a huge loss of hope- only discouragement and disillusionment while the main parties focus their energy slinging mud at each other, attacking each other but not offering the public any change, or plan for the future. I hope that things change, for all of our sakes.

    • Pingback: Don’t Like The Ruling Party, Vote for Someone Else. But who? | THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE()

    • Cliff Smith

      While I agree that the DA needs to make a big push into mainstream appeal to win more support nationally your statement that, “I find it difficult to cast my vote into the same basket as the majority of the people who voted for years to keep me disenfranchised” needs to be challenged. Of the 5.8 million inhabitants of the Western Cape only 15% are “white” and not all of them vote DA. So one can only conclude that a remarkable huge portion of Western Cape voters who you would consider people of “color” see a safer more prosperous future with the DA than with the ANC and are expected to do so once again at the ballot box this year. The harsh truth is the ANC has truly lost it’s moral compass under JZ783 and things are looking to only get worse.

      If the DA and other opposition parties can increasingly articulate a vision for a democratic South Africa with equal opportunities for all, access to quality education, investment opportunities and good, transparent corruption free, effective governance then the ANC had better look out.

    • Daniel

      I fully understand that many people would feel this way. I also want to say that its been 20 years and its is time to move on and struggle credentials have expired. It is also time to require more of ourselves and our leaders. Race, religion, gender are not appropriate benchmarks when one is considering who they want to be our leaders. Qualities such as qualifications, experience and ethics are much more appropriate. As difficult as it is when dealing with emotions of the past, simply decide of some basic measures to compare parties on how they govern, what they plan for our future and how likely they are to actually accomplish those goals if voted for. Looking forward to the elections!! :)

    • aim for the culprits

      I thought McBride trashed his credentials such that he would have been fired from his police role in any “normal” country. Maybe all his struggle credentials can save him from the sack, but surely not get him promoted into some sort of moral and ethics overseeing role…?1?

      that I thought was most people’s objection. By and large we LOVE the police. We don’t want to have their credibility undermined.

    • Karlito

      Apparently the author believes that coloured, Indian and other non white races had a part in apartheid. Wow…

    • Owen

      Firstly, know who you are and what values you hold dear. Do you like family traditional life vs modern living, pro life or pro abortion, pro same sex marriage or not, communism, socialism, capitalist or humanist, male or female leader, nationalist / tribalism / ethic vs cosmopolitan globalism, etc etc.

      I am a conservative white male who likes traditional family values, am pro life, against same sex marriages, capitalist / humanist, prefer a male leader and something of a nationalist. I use to vote IFP because that was the closest I could identify with. I am certainly NOT a liberal nor am I a communist so that rules out the DA and the ANC.

      Once you know yourself then … assess the current political scene.

    • bernpm

      @Dazza: “Even if you don’t like any of the parties, vote for the smallest one, because at least it’s one less vote against the ANC!”

      Over and above: “non voters” votes are being divided over the valid voting results in the percentages of the valid votes. I.E. if ANC gets 50% and non voters are 30%, the ANC gets another 15% top up of voters who did not vote ANC!!! In so doing the non voters help ANC to reach a 65% majority!!!!

      Yes Dazza, You are so right in your advice. Thanks

    • Owen

      The current political scene as I see it.

      The EFF is genuine african, have communist polices (like the SACP) yet are right wing nationalist. They could easily transform into a Nazi / Stalin type party. Can they win 20%? Easily as 50% of the voters are young, unemployed or unemployable. No other political party are actually addressing these needs. They are ready to march. The EFF have militarized this election with their red berets. Julius marched through ANC supporters, Jacob would not try the reverse, Helen tapped out. Julius has big balls status. A recent survey said that the ANC has lost 19% of its support hmmm….

      The DA is a western liberal party. Could it win an election in Europe? It has no real African roots. Its target market is the employed and educated – less than 50% of the voters. It might rule in 15 years time when people are better educated but now the unemployed / unemployable rule.

      The ANC under Jacob has lost its way. No one with integrity wants to be there. It is now an intellectual desert. ‘Fire pool’ by its top thinkers & leaders sums it up.

      The SACP would loose a lot of status should the EFF get 20% as they would have been beaten on their own communism ground. So would Jacob.

      The rest have either lost their way, lack funding, stuck in a time warp, are comfortable with a few parliamentary seats. Oxygen thieves

      So either vote EFF, that way Jacob gets fired, and stay true to african roots or spoil your vote to show that you care about…

    • Travesty

      “The DA has its roots in the former Democratic Party, the official opposition in the then whites-only apartheid parliament. When I’m asked why I cannot see the DA as a political alternative my unspoken answer is that I find it difficult to cast my vote into the same basket as the majority of the people who voted for years to keep me disenfranchised.”

      This makes no sense! As the opposition the DP was in anything BUT the same basket as the rest – have you already forgotten the tireless work of Helen Suzman et al?

      It’s time South Africa got over its obsession with colour and voted for the party that will make this country work for everyone.

    • Derek

      Your article begs for a response. You trot out the same old tired propaganda that the ANC has been espousing for ages now as if it were the gospel truth.

      The people in the DP were probably the only people, who could vote at that time, who voted for your enfranchisement – NOT your disenfranchisement. After that glaring lie, I knew where your piece was going but I persevered. The truth of the matter is that the Nats (who WERE the people that sought to disenfranchise you), merged with and have been absorbed by the ANC. So you have, in fact, been voting for the very people that disenfranchised you.

      As for the Western Cape, the ANC had their chance but they stuffed that up so badly that pretty much ALL of the voters in the Western Cape never want to see them in power there again. When they were in power, there was absolute plunder and large-scale selling off of public land to connected cronies at ridiculously low prices and very little service delivery. This same plunder continues in all provinces where they are still in power.

      There is nothing wrong with black power but there is something very wrong with ANC power. If you can’t see that, then you probably shouldn’t be voting at all.

      I hold no torch for Dr Death and feel that he should have been punished and still hope he will. For me, the worst is that he shows absolutely no remorse for the misery he has caused. Simply saying sorry would go a long way to right the wrongs but he is far too arrogant for that.

    • http://yahoo chuma

      politics (elections) is about choosing the people you want in power, if you dont choose others will choose for you. the truth is, some within the struggle fought to remove white minority rule for the benefit of the people while others fought but for different reasons, unfortunelty those who did not have the best interest of the majority of the masses are now in charge of the party….so there it is

    • DEEN

      I don’t understand – what is wrong with voting for Agang?

      I think its a fresh alternative to the current poor, weak government.

      Its headed by an intellectual, academic who is forward thinking AND actually is concerned about the future of us and that of our children.

      And in additiion to it Aganag identifies the very issues that is wrong in our coutry and speaks about it openly.

      In her own words “The impressive achievements of the past eighteen years are being undermined by poor governance at all levels of society.”

    • Bruce Gordon

      I will admit to having voted for the DP in the first election – I have an aversion to any politician having power. I became disillusioned when they merged with the Nats – can only be ascribed to political expedience. For the people to have power when there is proportional representation, it is essential that the country reaches a point where no one party can rule – so they have to form a coalition.

      So who to vote for? The ANC will most likely obtain a majority in this election (I’d be very surprised otherwise). So my vote must go to someone who will provide opposition. The DA does this well, and will continue to do so without my vote. COPE and UDM are small and to be blunt not deserving of where they are. This leaves me with 2 real options. Agang and EFF. Now between them who has a message that needs to be heard in Parliament and is currently not? Agang seems liberal which is the message of the DA and ANC today. But no-one speaks for the poor and marginalised. Hence despite my intense dislike of Malema I see a strong potential of an EFF vote, simply to give a voice to the marginalised. I wouldn’t even consider this is there was a chance of an EFF government, but as a new voice in Parliament – definitely considering it.

    • Jen

      For some analysis on parties, have a look at election analysis via

    • TQ

      Thanks Sydney for a well written article. I myself find it difficult to select which organisation to vote for but definately its not the DA. I grew up in the streets of Nyanga East in the Cape Flats not much has changed since 1994 instead there’s a high crime rate which is out of control estimated to be 300 murders every year. Even when the ruling party was in power not much changed to the lives of many people living in Nyanga. Everytime I fly back home from Jhb to see my mother I see poverty in the area I grew up on.

    • Dave Lowe

      Does Sydney Ainsworth Majoko seriously think that McBride is the right man for the job??? Disregarding his role in the “struggle” – he has been on the wrong side of the law for so long and on so many fronts that he should be ineligible for any position that requires honesty, integrity and hard work. He’s proved that these attributes are beyond him. Only the ANC could consider him the right man for this job.

    • Baz

      Let’s hope the younger generation do vote and hopefully for a party that could straighten out the screw ups messing our economy and give those needing basics
      like electricity, and so forth.The longer it is stalled , the current crisis in the country
      worsens. Think wisely before casting your vote later this year !!!1

    • Zeph

      ‘It’s also noteworthy that the Western Cape is the only province whose demographics have black Africans not in majority. In other words most of the people who vote DA in that province are the same people that kept me disenfranchised’

      This statement is revealing:
      1. So coloured people are not black, or is that black enough for you?
      2. You vote along racial lines

      Off the above two points Sir – I conclude you are racist.

    • Tebogo

      I fully understand where you come from, before we move forward we should actually deal with our past head on. African families were destroyed through the pursuit of white supremacy through colonialism, industrialisation and apartheid, hence family values were lost. This is actually what we are dealing with currently. Through this pursuit; sport, farming, banking, government, etc. formed part of the Afrikaaner culture and these were exclusively for white. Come 1994, we have all have rights, DA capture this correctly by saying Open Society with equal opportunities, ANC also captures this in Freedom Charter SA belong to all who live in it.
      In the past 20 years ANC have evolved as well as the DA, but still the battle lines are between Black and White (including others). New parties are also identifying themselves through these lines. Currently, I will vote for BEE and Affirmative Action, the rest will follow.

    • Merry

      I too am faced with your dilemma. It doesn’t really matter which of the smaller parties receive your vote. Just vote. Alliances, expediency and convenience can cover the need for effective opposition

    • May

      Interesting observation Mr Majoko. @Bruce Gordon, m really with you in your thoughts. Though in my case I’d vote for Agang only because the leader is a black lady…
      My thing is, if I don’t vote ANC, I feel like a huge part of me is dishonouring my grand father and my father’s sacrifices. But is loyalty gonna guarantee a stabilised country for my son’s future? Is it time to really let go of all that my people went through and be calculative about who gets my next vote? If so, I am not voting for a white leader, we not ready yet. But if I vote for a black woman because she’s a black woman, I am definetly waisting my vote. My decision needs to be more informed… I say we bring back the debates we had prior to 1994 elections… Then we have more material on the people we vote for.

    • Gavin

      I will not vote for the ANC for the following reasons:

      1. They allowed the NATS (architects of apartheid) to join them

      2. They have failed to deliver

      3. NO party should be allowed to obtain a 2/3rds majority (changes to the constitution must always be negotiated in parliament (in public) by multiple parties.

      4. The ANC have wasted (and sometimes stolen) the funds us taxpayers provided them to up lift and house the poor, attend to land redistribution and health.

      5 Politians all over only respond when there is a threat of loss of power therefore we need the ANC (or any other party) to get as close to only 50% of the seats

      I will however not abstain because the ANC only looses seats if other parties gain so a vote for any other party with the certainty of getting a seat in Parliament can get my vote

    • Dave L

      The EFF is going to garner HUGE support given time. I don’t support them but they promise a ‘reality’ that lots of desperate people (read 80% of SA) are looking for.

    • manquat

      “In other words most of the people who vote DA in that province are the same people that kept me disenfranchised.”
      It’s wrong to blaim people for your disenfrachisment!! What you need is opportunity. This opportunity needs to be created by yourself. Stop blaming certain people for your fate!! Take your life into your own hands!!
      South Africans are free to vote for whoever they want to!! We are a republic and in a republic the rights of the minority also need to be respected, so leave the people in the Western Cape alone!!

    • Travesty

      May, your grandfather and father didn’t fight for the ANC. They fought for what the ANC stood for at the time … equal opportunities for all. Does the ANC stand for that now? No! Your decision is not a hard one to make.

    • Momma Cyndi

      You and me both!
      I still have no idea who to vote for.
      Something my sister said resonated though. “Who would you not be embarrassed to see on an international stage – who would make us proud”. That is both inspiring and depressing. Looking at the rogues gallery of politicians, I will probably go with Dr Ramphele or Mr Holomisa as the rest just make me cringe.

    • Karney

      And there lies the problem with so many voters, they vote with their hearts not their heads. The DA runs the the most efficient and cleanest provincial government in the country. This is what should be what determines who you vote for ( and policies you believe in). Making your decision based on feelings of emotional connection with the race of the voter etc is both a pity and depressing. It shows a lack of maturity in our electorate.

    • DeeGee

      @ Bruce Gordon. A leopard never changes his spots. I’m having a hard time seeing how EFF speaks for the poor and marginalised. All EFF do is leverage populist opinions, in a veiled attempt to garner enough votes so they can all re-board the gravy train. Look at how their illustrious leader behaved whilst at the ANCYL – expensive cars, multiple houses (all on only R20,000 per month), dodgy dealings in Limpopo resulting in fraud and corruption charges (hence my opening sentence)…. I cannot trust anyone who is so duplicitous. And crafty. And clearly fake.

    • Heinrich

      Sydney. Thanks for raising this.

      It is as if Big Brother is constantly influencing our thoughts and actions.

      When we think country we think government. When we think government we think politics. When we think politics we think Parties. When we think Parties we think past tense. When we think past tense we think racism. When we think racism we think hatred.

      It is so long past time that we break these chains – get real freedom!

      Not government (ruling) but subservient management.
      Not party ( brand leadership) but experts – high quality (fraternity leadership) and democracy (community representative leadership)

      We must put our nation and our country first – strive for unity of direction and development. Political parties are like Idols competition competitors or sports teams – always looking for their own “win” against others. They are divisive, self seeking and destructive to our nation and our country.

      Getting rid of Apartheid was only the first step towards freedom and democracy.

      The next step is getting rid of political parties.
      Let quality and freedom prevail and flourish.

    • Julian Frost

      “I find it difficult to cast my vote into the same basket as the majority of the people who voted for years to keep me disenfranchised.”
      A few facts for your edification:
      1) In 1991, the white electorate voted to support F. W. de Klerk’s reforms.
      2) The NP actually lost the last few whites-only elections in numerical terms. They only stayed in power thanks to gerrymandering the boundaries of constituencies.
      3) The DA and its predecessors fought AGAINST apartheid.
      Your argument literally makes no sense.
      As for your comments on McBride’s “persecution”, he was appointed to the position of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Commissioner despite having hardly any qualifications for the job and over two candidates who were both qualified and experienced. He is being considered for a crucial post despite being fired by Ekurhuleni. This is nothing more than blatant cadre deployment. That you libel valid concern about this as “persecution” shows either ignorance or dishonesty.

    • Wayne Bisset

      Got as far as,

      “It’s also noteworthy that the Western Cape is the only province whose demographics have black Africans not in majority. In other words most of the people who vote DA in that province are the same people that kept me disenfranchised. ”

      and felt that if you have never heard or seen of a people that are called Coloureds, or do not bother to acknowledge them, you cannot really have anything intelligent to say.