ELECTION RESULTS A RESOUNDING ‘WAKE UP’
CALL TO THE ANC
“Thank YOU for prying open this door. May it never close again.”– Njabulo Ndebele
The election results send a resounding ‘Wake Up’ call to the ANC.
As our leaflets and material show the main aim of the Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote NO! was to “stop the ANC getting a 66% majority”. Not only has this been achieved, but the ruling party was not even able to garner as many votes as it did in 2009 – in fact they shed 213,827 votes and slid, as we know, to 62.15% of the counted vote. If this is the result of a lavish campaign, massive resources, parties held by ANC cronies the likes of the Mpisane’s and invoking the name of Mandela, the ANC, indeed, needs to be worried.
The express purpose of the campaign was to call upon voters to come out and make a protest vote against the ANC, either by voting for a small party (without big business interests) that will hold those in power to account or by spoiling one’s ballot. To measure the success of our campaign against the number of spoilt ballots alone is not justified. But it should be noted that the 251,960 spoilt ballots could theoretically have won 5-6 seats in Parliament, coming in 6th position! This is not an insignificant number.
Rather than celebrating they have the overwhelming support of the South African population, the ANC needs to acknowledge that the 11.437 million votes they garnered is a mere 36.4% of the voting age public (VAP – ie all those eligible to vote), which stands at about 31.4 million. A further 41% chose not to vote. We need to ask ourselves why. This increasingly poor turn-out is not a healthy sign for our democracy. As we reflected in our launch statement; ‘Given the lack of participatory democracy and unacceptable levels of corruption in the ruling party and government, there is little wonder then that millions of voters have abandoned their faith in the ballot box’. What future is there for our country if the ANC continues its hegemony on the basis of ever dwindling numbers of voters?
The campaign put tactical voting squarely on the table, which led to much reflection and discussion. Given our history and the deep seated loyalty South Africans have for the proud liberation movement, we believe these elections mark a turning point where voters are prepared to shift from voting for a party to voting to strengthen the opposition. By choosing a party that will best hold the ruling party and government to account, one sees the rise of the EFF, the DA and in small measure the UDM and the demise of minority parties whose capacity does not allow for a strong opposition. The EFF will bring a loud voice to fill the void of any strong left opposition in Parliament, which is to be welcomed.
We would not be so arrogant as to claim that the Sidikiwe! Vukani! Vote NO! campaign alone brought about the decline in ANC support and shift to oppositional politics, but it did add fuel to the fire. In fact, the greatest success of the campaign does not lie in election statistics, but in the debate that was engendered.
We met with grassroots movement – the Mining Affected Communities of Mpumalanga, the miners of the Platinum belt, the Housing Assembly in Cape Town, the Unemployed People’s movement in Botshabelo and Grahamstown, NUMSA members in Port Elizabeth – and participated in the 20 years of democracy and May Day celebrations, among others, and agreed that to Vote No is a more constructive means of protest than a No Vote!
As Barney Pityana expressed; ‘The Sidikiwe/Vukani Campaign has caused waves. It has touched and rattled the South African political landscape … and provided a radical but intelligent edge to the debate, but also rationality and passion.’ The campaign struck a chord with South Africans across the country – all ages, all cultures, all races, all classes of society. South Africans participated in discussions about the state of governance, the accountability of the ruling elite and deepening our democracy through greater engagement and say. These took place both in public and in private – in cyber talk, in the press, in public meetings, in the workplace, in academia, in the mini-bus taxis and at the supper table. The campaigners merely expressed what many fear to say – a simple truth that it is not disloyal to make a protest vote against the ANC – it is saving the ideals of the Freedom Charter and movement against the cancer of corruption, autocracy and maladministration.
Our campaign focusing on the elections is now over. We thank those who joined in, supported us and added their voices. However a vibrant democracy is not premised alone on free and fair elections. There is much to be done to ensure the promise of the Freedom Charter, our Constitution and Bill of Rights are upheld through the struggles of civil society for a transformative political programme premised on social justice, redistribution, clean governance and democratic principles.
As we go forward the people associated with this campaign would like to add their weight to these initiatives. It would also be important to look at electoral reforms, such as NOTA (a choice of voting for none of the above), in which people can make a protest vote that is counted, is not merely symbolic and does not advantage other parties. Central to any reforms would be to ensure greater accountability at every level from those elected to those who elected and must include improved voter education and increased involvement of community based organisations.
We hope the work and debate continue. May our voices be heard and the ANC take heed. As Njabulo Ndebele said; ‘Thank YOU for prying open this door. May it never close again’
The Sidikiwe! Vukani! Campaign would like to acknowledge and thank the following:-
All those who signed our petition & Facebook
The media for their coverage
Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre
Democratic Left Front
Democracy from Below
Housing Assembly CT
Unemployed People’s Movement
Abahlali base Majondo
Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
UKZN Centre for Civil Society
FOR MORE INFORMATION, INTERVIEWS & TO FURTHER THE DISCUSSION CONTACT:
Louise Colvin on 031 466 1322 or 081 246 0350