On February 12, 2000 a constitutional referendum was held in Zimbabwe, proposing the new Constitution of Zimbabwe, which saw Mugabe suffering a totally unexpected defeat.
Instead of using it as a gauge of the prevailing political climate it was taken as a personal rebuff for Mugabe.It was a political triumph for the newly-formed opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, and was notable for the government of Zimbabwe seeking power to seize farms owned by white farmers, without compensation, and transfer them to black farm owners as part of a scheme of land reform.
At that vital crossroads the Zanu (PF) had two choices – stick to their policies and risk alienating their support or turn the ship towards the centre and adopt the wishes of the majority.
Mugabe chose the former and married it to a decade long campaign of murder, intimidation and political chicanery which saw him “retain” power – even if the results of elections didn’t reflect that – and bring 5 million of his countrymen to the brink of starvation.
The ANC is now standing at the same crossroads.In the 2011 local government elections they dropped support in every province except KwaZulu-Natal where their majority increased. This while being headed by President Jacob Zuma, a populist, much loved by the majority of the people of South Africa.
Yet even under his leadership this is the second time that the ANC has gone backwards in an election and the signs are there that this trend will continue only the rate of losses is going to become far more alarming.
1994 is now long gone and with the dawn of the multiracial democracy and better access to an information age comes masses that are more educated, worldly wise and who are no longer as impressed by the hype.
While ANC Youth League President Julius Malema telling everyone that he refuses to debate DA MP and spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko because she’s the “tea girl” is very funny – had us in stitches – it does not come across well when people arrive at the ballot box.
When the ANC speak about nationalisation and land reform in vague terms that hint at following the worst African model in history when it comes to creating disaster from order, it doesn’t sit well at the ballot box.
When service delivery is shocking and people watch the exploits of the family of former president Nelson Mandela and Zuma at Aurora people are not impressed.
Two areas need to be cleaned up or all the cosmetic changes to elitism, cronyism and corruption that the ANC employ won’t be worth the paper that they are written on – and this falls to be done by the real power in South Africa the ANC NEC.
Firstly they need to set policies that turn the country towards the centre because it is there that they are losing ground. Concepts like nationalisation and other ultra-leftist ideology might go down well at conferences but not quite as well apparently at elections.
Secondly they need to start leading from the front.Billions go missing in arms deals without a full blown investigation, Aurora, policemen being suspended for pulling over senior ANC leaders, KGB tactics when a Cape Town student shows a convoy the middle finger, arrest if you spill a drink on the president, treating the masses like morons when they wanted to learn about the health of Madiba and so on and so forth.
The masses may appear totally gullible and stupid to some but maybe they best start learning that they are far better informed than some think and when there are candidate lists which are dubious and elective conferences where police are called to get rid of the opposition as the Youth League did, there is a mass alienation of support.
Then standing up and blaming the media for poor performance instead of getting down on the ground and finding out why support is being lost left right and centre is head in the sand of the worst kind.
The ANC can shoot the messenger but it will only hasten their demise not enhance their position. Good example being the candidate lists. If the head office had noted what the media were saying about grievances instead of blaming them for the grievances they would have been ahead on points.
This applies across the board. Learn to analyse where the problems are and rectify them rather than going tilt and blaming the media for exposing them.
Again let Mugabe be the ANC’s head teacher. He closed down the entire opposition media and lost votes so fast he couldn’t murder enough people to get people to vote for him.
Helen Zille put on her dancing shoes and went out to see the masses.She did not promise them the Earth but rather that their lot would be vastly improved by her party taking over the reins. That was realistic, clean and coming from the heart.
The ANC now have to choose – Do we, like Mugabe, retain policies as is and try bully and bull dust the electorate into sticking with the liberation party or do we transform ourselves from a liberation party into the party that has the policies that the majority of the country want?
Mugabe made the wrong choice and never looked forward, the ANC can reverse that and never look back.